“Devil By My Side” – The Demon Ororon (manga) – 5/10 Snowballs

 

An apology for the devil: it must be remembered that we have heard one side of the case. God has written all the books. ~Samuel Butler

Mangaka: Hakase Mizuki

Genre: Action/Romance/Spiritual/Fantasy

Review Status: Complete (4 Volumes/4 Volumes)

Licensed: Formerly licensed by Tokyopop

Art: This has a very CLAMP-ish look to it, but isn’t that pretty. In fact, most of the time it looks downright ugly, and I can’t attribute it to having more realistic art- most of the faces and bodies just look deformed. The panels are very clear, and it’s layout is good, but that’s about all I can really say about it.

Summary: Chiaki is the orphaned daughter of the Archangel Michael and a human woman. Ororon is a devil with a bounty on his head. Together, they struggle to stay alive as the battle between devils and the angelic order rage around them. But Chiaki the pacifist often finds herself trying to cool the murderous impulses of her new life companion. (back cover of 1st volume)

Review: This isn’t the first time I’ve read a manga that dealt with the idea of nephilim, the offspring of angels and humans. This takes the idea of making a deal with the devil, mixes it with the idea of a nephilim being the one to incur the debt. What this attempts to create is the story of a world that is out for them and their desperate struggle to live, where Chiaki’s newly-discovered powers are as dangerous and create significant moral quandaries for her, and a story of first love that’s tragically lost.

This fails on a lot of levels, such as the inability to follow through on a lot of plot threads. This attempts too many for its own good, with many hinted or even given fleshing-out, but not really playing into the story with any significance. The story that is played out does seem to be the one given focus on throughout the story via narration, but at the same time others overshadowed it most of the time.

This is saved to a certain point by some good characterization. Chiaki is an interesting lead, lonely, but still willing to reach out to someone else that needs it. She finds a certain strength to keep going, and does end up in situations that make her question her morals and beliefs. Ororon is also fascinating in his own way, a man who’s willing to do anything to stay by Chiaki’s side, who’s haunted by his past and his present obligations. The relationship between the two has its moments of passion and intrigue, where it really seems that they go well together, but also has moments where it seems… odd. It moves a little too quickly for the story, growing from an obligation to a vaguely sexually-charged romance in almost no time. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast don’t fare as well, with some good characterization but their own plotlines left loose.

The plot is nicely unpredictable to a certain extent. I wasn’t exactly expecting the ending, though I do enjoy them for a lot of stories. I wasn’t thrilled with it, though, because certain scenes were dragged out for far too long, as were certain events, especially with the wounds that were given. It was also very abrupt and that took away from the atmosphere that it had created.

This manga did a number of things right, from the atmosphere and the characterization, but also did an equal number of things wrong, and in the end, both things evened out my score.

Overall, this was incredibly tragic, but not really told in a compelling way.

Recommended: 16+. This is pretty violent and gory, on-par with the worst of CLAMP. Heads explode, eyeballs are held, people are stabbed, and a not a few die. There’s attempted rape and some partial nudity. There’s also some language, most of it on the harsher side of the scale, including a few f-bombs. Chiaki flips someone off at one point. This does have theology that posits that God Himself is a nephilim, and this will tick of a lot of Christians, so stay away if you’re sensitive

Other titles you might enjoy:

Nephilim John (manhwa)

Demon Diary (manhwa)

Angel Diary (manhwa)

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