Review: Demon Diary Vol. #1

“YOU WILL REIGN IN TERROR WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!”

In a world where gods and demons wage a never-ending war with the mortal realm as their battlefield, newly inducted demon Lord Raenef is the black sheep of the demon court, clueless about magic and royal etiquette, the demon king assigns noble Eclipse to turn Raenef into a proper demon.

Hilarity ensues, naturally.

Want to start an argument? Ask fans of this series whether it should be classified as shounen-ai or not (although, since this is a manhwa from Korea, not manga from Japan, it probably shouldn’t be called by the Japanese term, but since I don’t know whether there’s an equivalent in Korean, I’ll just borrow the word for a bit).

Regardless of how you want to classify it, the plot is centered around the comedic (mis) adventures of Raenef as he learns how to be a “proper” demon lord. Much of the comedy comes from the fact that Raenef is about as demonic as low-fat vanilla pudding. He’s cheerful, naive (oh, so naive) and (it must be said) a complete idiot, all qualities that a demon lord does not want or need.

The other half of the equation is Eclipse, the demon noble who acts as Raenef’s teacher. Eclipse is serious, insists on following courtly etiquette, and doesn’t think twice about ordering that a bunch of clerics be thrown off a cliff (after cursing the entire order for a hundred years) because they killed a demon lord, He didn’t like that demon lord, but, you know, he is a demon, and demons have to act a certain way.

Eclipse shows us how this demon lord thing is done.

If there’s one criticism I have (and it’s not really a criticism) it’s that there’s little substance to the story. At this point, the story just picks up at Raenef arriving at his big fancy house with no indication as to who he is or how he ended up in this position other than that it was “the will of the gods” (that’s what Vol. 2 is for, lol). Then again, the story is supposed to be a light and fluffy romp, so maybe saying it has little substance is…kind of the point.

In terms of the art. If you cant get enough bishounen in your life, this will fill your need nicely. A lot of attention is given to hair and eyes. Fortunately, that’s where the focus tends to be, on the characters’ faces (and, interestingly enough, on Eclipse’s neck, but I might just be noticing that because I have a thing for necks). So the art is nice, if you like that sort of thing. I like that sort of thing, therefore the art is great.

BTW, here’s a quick primer as to the sex of the characters:

Raenef: male

Eclipse: also male

Erutis (the knight with the cool sword that destroys mountains): female (Raenef misgenders her, and the lack of pronouns when she’s first introduced has confuzzled a whole whack of people)

I will update this list as I go along, because this isn’t the end of the confuzzlement, not even close.

A word about the relationship dynamics between Eclipse and Raenef, while the back cover hints that there’s more to their relationship than simply teacher/student (or liege lord/vassal) and there is a TRUCKLOAD of homoerotic subtext, you can pretty much read it as a teacher/student relationship that becomes a close friendship/brotherly arrangement or as something more. I mean, you get panels like this:

Raenef: Can you stay with me forever?

Eclipse: ….if you wish.

Seriously, if Raenef were a girl, everyone would be talking about how this is the beginning of a relationship, but Raenef is a boy, so bromance….er….a romantic friendship, but as I said, you can read it however you want. I think you can figure out which interpretation I like the best.

The first volume also contains two unrelated stories: “The Crystal Heart” and “Terra”. These stories are apparently in here presumably because the artist thought we had too much fun giggling at Raenef’s antics, because both of these stories are pretty depressing.  They do have much more overt m/m relationships though (including a kiss between two guys in Crystal Heart) but my enthusiasm for stories with less subtext was unfortunately drowned out by how depressing they were.

Overall, this is a cute series. The art is great, it’s funny, you can read as much into the Eclipse/Raenef relationship as you want, and it doesn’t make unreasonable demands on your brain.

One thing though, if you really want to purchase it, is that it’s kind of hard to find it anywhere. I was able to find them on Amazon for the very reasonable price of one cent (plus shipping). Fortunately, there are only seven volumes in the series, which is short-ish (for manga/manhwa) so it’s not like it spans three character arcs with 13 volumes each. Still, give this one a look-see if you’re interested. I’ll be reviewing all of them here anyways.

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