Last time I was in Tokyo, I was standing in the K-Books used manga store in Ikebukuro (quite possibly my favorite place on earth) looking at titles. This series was pointed out to me at the time, with the caveat that while it had mild Yuri, I’d probably loathe it. ^_^ I don’t loathe it, but I will say that Stray Little Devil is one of those manga series that an awful lot of creepy guys think is “cute.” ^_^
Before I forget, I believe the today’s review was made possible by a grant from loyal friend of Yuri, Ted the Awesome. Thanks for once again being a hero and sponsoring a review, Ted!
In Volume 1, we meet Pam, an energetic kid who is trying to impress some friends by conjuring up some big magic. Shockingly, the magic spins out of control and she ends up being transported to another dimension. In this dimension, she learns, Angels and Devils live and fight and stuff. No one believes she’s human, so she’s turned into a Devil and told that if she manages to make full Devil status, she’ll be able to go home. Of course no one tells her anything at all about anything important – and of course she can’t figure out anything from reading the handbooks, because if any of that happened, there’d be no story. And it is *so* much funnier for her to bumble and stumble around hopelessly, causing havoc with every little thing she attempts because there is nothing more delightfully amusing than an incompetent moron who is thwarted at every turn. Like clown routines, Pam’s adventures are endless hysterical.
Of course, Pam is not a clown, she is a hapless manga character, so every time she manages to clear a level, she gains a new ally. Also because it is a manga, we look at her ass quite often. Apparently panty shots are not allowed in this manga…but staring at young girls’ asses being thrust in our faces in any number of unlikely positions and situations is perfectly acceptable. (Not in my book, personally. I find it exhausting on good days and on bad days it makes me murderous.)
In any case, in Volume 1, Pam is learning to become a Devil Intern, but before she does, she has a run in with a very elite Angel Lin-fa…who amazingly looks *exactly* like Pam’s Best Friend Forever, Rinka. (I’m only reading the English language edition, but I bet that those two names would use the same Kanji/Chinese characters.)
Lin-fa is yer basic Nadesico beauty with haughty attitude, who finds herself maddened by Pam’s energetic and cheerful bumbling. Absolutely not to be confused with the other 14 million series in which a classic Japanese beauty’s life is thrown into disarray by a cheerful, energetic average girl. And, of course, Lin-fa’s reaction is the *exact* reaction that Yuri fans who want to see 13-year old girls have romantic entanglements with other 13-year old girls see as the *exact* kind of love/hate they are looking for. The Yuri in Volume 1 is implication only, but based on what other people have said on the Yuricon Mailing List, it’s enough for many. ^_^
If you are of that ilk that like Yuri underaged, heavily sexualized, but in a way that you can mentally rewrite as “cute” and “sweet” you’ll probably like Stray Little Devil lots.
My genuinely favorite plot complication is the “conservation of luck” principle, which states that if a Devil helps an Angel, or vice versa, they will receive the same amount of bad luck in return. I quite liked that.
Art – 6
Characters – 6
Story – 7
Yuri – 1
Service – 5
Overall – 6
It wasn’t my cup of tea, no. Nor was it the worst thing I’ve ever read. I don’t think the plot itself would be enough to capture my interest without the Yuri angle – I’m not sure that that will be sufficient to maintain my interest in the long run. (And, oh god, PLEASE don’t write me and tell me how much better future volumes are. I’ve already read them, and they aren’t. I’m just reviewing *this* volume this time. Okay?)