When we left sixteen-year-old Chiaki at the end of volume two of Today’s Cerberus, he was being hilariously fought over by cute teen girls, some of whom are monsters. In fact, three of them—Kuro, Shirogane, and Roze—are personas of the three-headed dog Cerberus. There’s also Fenrir, the mythical Norse wolf, currently taking the form of a high school girl, and Hinata, who actually is a high school girl but also a monster-fighting shrine maiden.

Chiaki is the center of all this attention because, eight years ago when he was visiting Greece, Cerberus accidentally bit off part of his soul. Now Chiaki seems unable to feel joy and his incomplete soul is attracting monsters. Cerberus feels guilty, and has decided to become Chiaki’s bodyguard and try to help him enjoy life again.

Since they’re kind of the same person, only one of the three Cerberus personas can appear at a time, taking the form of a girl with a dog’s tail. When something touches that tail, the girl transforms into one of the other two. Not one of them understands social norms or the modern world. Needless to say, hijinks ensue.

Volumes three and four introduce more Norse monsters connected to Fenrir, also taking the form of human girls. These monsters bring in hints of what may be an overarching plot for the series: there are rules for monsters living in the human world, and Cerberus falling in love with Chiaki would be a big no-no. For the moment, though, that drama mostly takes a backseat to more fun, games, and humor, including a snowball fight, a group trip to the zoo, and a surprise visit from a girl who claims to be Chiaki’s fiancée.

These two volumes pack a lot of laughs. Their adventures are sometimes risqué, but nothing beyond typical fanservice, like panty shots, jokes about boobs, and possession by a sexy fox demon. Mostly, they are adorable or even heartwarming. There is a little combat action between monsters, but it’s not scary or bloody. The real focus of these volumes is the characters’ relationships and feelings.

Refreshingly, the series is not afraid to shake up the status quo: at the end of volume four, one of the girls finally tells Chiaki that she loves him, changing the “clueless boy surrounded by smitten girls” setup. Where will they go from here? And what about the other girls who also have feelings for Chiaki?

Despite being a harem comedy with many girls interested in one boy, this is truly an ensemble story. The plot doesn’t always follow Chiaki; some scenes don’t include him at all. We get to see the relationships between other characters and explore their motivations, some of which have nothing to do with romance. This adds depth and interest to the story. It also introduces even more humor, as when Hinata becomes an honorary cat to attend a cat conference run by a cat demon.

The art is sleek and pretty, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. Characters frequently appear as silly, exaggerated chibi forms, especially when they are upset or embarrassed. They are always expressive, their emotions sometimes highlighted with sparkles, bubbles, flowers, or other whimsical, shouju background effects. The characters and backgrounds are detailed, and a wide variety of screentones keeps things visually interesting. Overall, the art is polished and high-quality.

While the fantasy elements are always present, they are only lightly explored, at least so far. More attention goes to the comedy aspects of the story, with Chiaki and friends finding themselves in an endless string of funny situations. Sometimes, things get a bit emotionally fraught, but we’re always back to the laughs before too much tension builds. There are hints, however, that the rules governing monster behavior may become a real problem for Cerberus at some point in the future.

This series continues to keep things fun, with a cast of goodhearted but clueless and awkward characters bumbling around into each other’s feelings. A good read for fans of comedic fantasy who don’t mind some fanservice and sex jokes.

Today’s Cerberus, vols. 3-4
by Ato Sakurai
Vol 3 ISBN: 9780316435727
Vol 4 ISBN: 9780316435734
Yen Press, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: 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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