In the world of the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) Cross Reverie, no one is as feared as the dreaded demon king Diablo. Yet in the real world, Diablo is Takuma Sakamoto, a shy, shut-in who can’t even talk to cashiers without freezing up. Despite this, Takuma is satisfied with his existence until he suddenly finds himself in a magical realm very much like the world of Cross Reverie. He also finds himself under attack by two young summoners: the elf, Shera, and cat-girl, Rem.

Luckily, Takuma has entered the world in the form of Diablo and has possession of all his magic items and abilities. Unluckily, this means that his spell-reflecting ring causes the binding spells the summoners cast on him to bounce-back, leaving them wearing slave collars and subject to obey his every whim. Why is that unlucky for Takuma? Because he is so scared of women and intimacy that he can’t talk to them at all… unless he plays the role of the demon king Diablo.

The situation is equally frustrating for Rem and Shera, who argue about which one of them truly summoned Diablo and should have gained control of his favors. It seems they both had good reason to summon a powerful demon for protection. Throw in the fact that the realm is in need of a hero and it seems that Diablo’s arrival is well-timed and it will fall to him and his slowly-growing harem of heroines to save the kingdom of Faltra!

Based on the light novel series of the same name, How Not To Summon A Demon Lord truly surprised me. Given the premise, I had expected it to be full of fan-service driven artwork and the usual jokes about an awkward otaku suddenly finding himself having gorgeous, powerful women too close for comfort. And it was. Yet it also showed a surprising amount of heart and a healthy respect for its heroines that I did not see coming.

Author Yukiya Murasaki gives Shera and Ren fully developed backstories and personalities, far more involved than is typical of the love interests in a fantasy-themed harem manga. Both women have secrets that tie into why they became adventurers and why they sought demonic intervention to deal with their problems. The irony that they both wind up in bonded servitude while trying to avoid similar fates is not lost on them and the fact that Diablo treats them far better as his slaves than they were often treated as free adventurers only makes the two summoners start to fall for him all the faster. Which only further fuels his awkwardness.

The artwork by Naoto Fukuda (based on the character designs of Takahiro Tsurusaki) is skillfully handled. Fukuda proves capable of depicting a wide variety of body types and characters and there is never any difficulty in telling the various characters apart. The monsters are all memorable and the action sequences well-choreographed.

Fukuda also shows tremendous versatility, often switching the story up into different styles as Takuma daydreams and imagines himself and his companions in non-fantasy situations, such as when he imagines himself as the hero of a slice-of-life school anime and the Adventurer’s Guild master as the principal, when he is called to a private meeting. Naturally Shera and Rem show up in schoolgirl uniforms and turn into the Betty and Veronica fighting for his attentions.

The series is suggested for Older Teens and I consider this a fair rating. While there is little outright nudity in the first three volumes, there is a lot of skimpy costuming and sexual content. The BDSM implications of Rem and Shera’s servitude is explored in-depth and assuming the concept of the series itself isn’t problematic for some readers, the details of Shera’s mysterious past (in which she was fleeing a deranged older brother who wished to claim her as a concubine) may trigger unwanted memories for some survivors, though the story itself does nothing to glamorize the idea of sexual slavery outside of some clearly consensual slave-play.

How Not To Summon A Demon Lord, vols. 1-3
By Yukiya Murasaki
Art by Naoto Fukuda
vol 1 ISBN: 9781626927605
vol 2 ISBN: 9781626928657
vol 3 ISBN: 9781626929654
Seven Seas Entertainment, 2016
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teen

  • Matt

    | He/Him Librarian

    Reviewer

    A librarian with over 10 years experience in public and academic settings, Matthew Morrison has been blogging about comic books for nearly as long as they’ve had a word for it.  Over the past two decades, he has written regular columns, commentary, parodies and reviews for such websites and blogs as Fanzing, 411 Mania, Screen Rant and Comics Nexus.  He has served as an Expert in Residence for a seminar on Graphic Novels and Comics for Youth and Adults at the University of North Texas and has given several lectures on the history of comics, manga and cosplay culture at libraries and comic conventions around the country. In addition to his work for No Flying No Tights, he is the Contributing Editor of Kabooooom.com and maintains a personal blog at MyGeekyGeekyWays.com.

Liked it? Take a second to support us on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!