Nineteen-year-old Awyn didn’t mean to awaken a demon. Sure, there might be a few demons in his past—figurative and literal—but he’s left all that behind. Now he’s just the kind-hearted, bumbling gardener of a grand estate, friendly with his coworkers and devoted to his young mistress.

So when Awyn accidentally awakens the demon Vyrde, he wants nothing to do with her. But then crusader knights attack, and the only way Awyn can protect his mistress and friends is if he strikes a deal with the demon. Vyrde gives him the power to wield a mighty demonic sword and she helps him save the estate and nearby village. In return, he must become her slave… and help her kill the six angels who rule the world so she can take their place.

Not that Vyrde seems to be in a hurry to conquer the world. She’s happy to hang around masquerading as a human. When she takes a job as a maid at the estate where Awyn works, things get comically awkward: Vyrde likes to flirt with Awyn, preferably while wearing as little clothing as possible. But with a powerful enemy on the move, getting flustered by Vyrde is about to be the least of Awyn’s problems.

The world of 7th Garden is dominated by a monotheistic religion called Anti-Quoristianity. Parts of this faith—angels, demons, prayers, bishops, and crosses—strikingly resemble Christianity, and other parts, not so much. In this world, angels and demons both forge alliances with individual humans, granting them the power to use devastating attacks like demonic swords and angelic particle ray cannons (yes, really). The angels who rule Awyn’s world have bonded with human royalty, helping them crush any uprisings, even when that means “purging” villages full of innocent citizens. Compared to them, the demon Vyrde—who is helping Awyn save people—seems downright noble.

Another thing the angels and demons have in common: they like to show some skin. In a world where most people wear full-coverage, vaguely Victorian outfits, Vyrde prefers to sleep naked in Awyn’s bed (no nipples or genitalia appear). A shocked and embarrassed Awyn convinces her to wear pajamas, only for her to show up in extremely revealing ones. Vyrde also frequently finds herself in a suggestive butt-in-the-air position, whether she’s stretching in bed, comically falling down, or knocked to the ground during a fight. It’s worth noting that Vyrde’s skimpy outfits and sexy posing feel true to her character: she knows she’s attractive and clearly enjoys watching Awyn squirm, and unlike the schoolgirls who make fanservice-y appearances in some manga, she is specifically described as eighteen. Awyn’s reactions to Vyrde are played for laughs, but curiously, he has no reaction to the physics-defying, underboob-baring outfit worn by the busty angel who attacks them. Then again, he might just be too busy fighting for his life.

The art is rich and vivid. A variety of screentones and shades of gray complement the crisp, intricate line art. Characters are expressive and pretty, and much attention has been given to the details of their faces, hair, and clothes. The backgrounds are often elaborate, a good fit for a story set in a beautiful estate with lovingly-tended gardens. But it’s not all flowers and fancy outfits: there’s a lot of fighting in this volume, and some of it gets bloody. Readers who don’t like violence may balk at the way knights slaughter villagers, Vyrde and her demon sword slice up knights, and her angelic rival reduces a whole crowd to partly-melted corpses.

This volume presents a well-developed fantasy world, dramatic battles, and interesting characters, seasoned with fanservice and humor. I especially recommend it for fans of the sexy-demon trope.

7th Garden, vol. 1
by Mitsu Izumi
ISBN: 9781421587219
VIZ Media, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teen

  • Nic

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Wake County Public Libraries

    Reviewer

    The child of two artists, Nic grew up loving art, reading, and those oh-so-special books that combine the two. Nic got her MLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her thesis was on the best shelving scheme for graphic novels in public libraries; the proposal won an Elfreda Chatman Research Award. She spends her free time reading, drawing, blogging, and writing fiction. She is a Youth Services Librarian at the Wake County Public Libraries in Raleigh, NC.

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