Himari Momochi was well cared for at her orphanage, but on her sixteenth birthday, when she receives a mysterious deed to a place called Momochi House, she takes the opportunity to start a new life for herself. The large Japanese-style mansion is situated deep in the mountains and, as Himari learns from a local, it has a reputation for being cursed by a being known as Omamori-sama. Imagine her surprise when she opens the door and finds three handsome squatters living in her home—and one of them isn’t wearing any clothes!
Himari’s simple life changes when she learns that Momochi House exists between the spirit and material worlds as a home to ayakashi or yokai (monsters) with nowhere else to go. Some of the lesser ayakashi are harmless and cute, resembling stuffed animals, but they can become violent if darkness consumes them. Readers familiar with Japanese folklore may also recognize some iconic tsukumogami (yokai created from household objects), specifically the parasol yokai. Unsurprisingly, the squatters are more than what they seem: the quirky Momochi House family includes Yukari, a water serpent; Ise, an orangutan; and Aoi, a human who was chosen by the house to be its guardian, Omamori-sama, after accidentally breaking its seal as a child. Himari may be the legal owner of Momochi House, but she will have to work hard to prove that she belongs.
When Momochi House or its inhabitants are in danger, Aoi has the power to transform into a Nue, a powerful ayakashi with the ears of a cat, wings of a bird, and a fox tail. The transformation sequences are beautifully rendered, yet simple and not overly flashy. The transformation always begins with Aoi saying “don’t look at me,” as he holds one hand up to cover his face. This gesture makes it clear to Himari—and the reader—that Aoi is embarrassed or ashamed of his demon form. Furthermore, Aoi is no longer allowed to step foot outside Momochi House, which is dramatically illustrated when Himari tries to drag Aoi outside with her in the final pages of the volume, only to have a force field push him back. I assume that, as the series progresses, more information will be shared about the person who sent Himari the deed to the house, and why it was given to her years after Aoi, an outsider, was chosen as Omamori-sama.
The Demon Prince of Momochi House is a fun, light-hearted shojo series infused with elements of Japanese folklore. Himari is hard-working, kind, and takes everything in stride. Readers will root for her as she tries to find her place in Momochi House, and in her budding relationship with Aoi. One of the biggest draws of the series is its beautiful, detailed, and expressive artwork, showcased from first glance by the gorgeous cover featuring Aoi post-transformation, adorned with a kimono and red fan. The Demon Prince of Momochi House is sure to be a hit with teen manga readers, and it is especially recommended for fans of Fruits Basket and Kamisama Kiss.
The Demon Prince of Momochi House, vol. 1
by Aya Shouto
Publisher Age Rating: T