The whole schoolgirl contending with a renegade demon has been done many times in manga, and while Mugen Spiral doesn’t really do anything too new with the premise, snide dialogue spices up the shojo frothiness enough to make it a fun trip.

Yayoi may be your typical schoolgirl, but she’s also a talented mystic over able to control a multitude of spirits. While on the one hand this makes her able to stand up to all manner of challenges, it also makes her a target for demons who know that if they can kill her, all of that power will transfer to them. Ura, one of the leading contenders jockeying for the position of King of the Underworld, arrives to claim her power for himself. Too bad she promptly turns him into a tiny, adorable, catnip loving black kitty cat. He may rage and rant, but it’s hard to take him seriously when he’s a ball of fluff.

Of course, this is just the prologue of what may well develop into a winning fantasy. The characters are already developing complexities, always a good sign. Yayoi is strong, certainly, but she has her vulnerabilities and can be a bit naïve ­ which will no doubt lead to growth. While Ura may come off as an arrogant, selfish brat used to getting his own way, he turns out to have tenderness and loyalty lurking under the snotty façade. As other demons start arriving on the scene, the battle for Yayoi’s power gets more vicious while the relationship between the two leads becomes more than just predator and prey. Comic relief is provided by Ura’s cat antics (the creators obviously know cat attitude) and a cousin of Ura’s who’s determined to marry him, never mind that they’re both guys ­ think of the power of being the spouse of the King of Hell!

So, if you like dashing demons, witty reparte, a touch of romantic tension, and wacky slapstick involving cats, then this is the book for you.

Mugen Spiral, vol. 1
By Mizuho Kusanagi
ISBN-13: 9781598168297
Tokyopop, 2007

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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