Takuma Akutsu has had a hard life. Cursed since childhood with a face that only a mother could love, his classmates fear him and refer to him as “the demon.” Throw in the fact that his grim visage seems to attract the attention of thugs looking for a fight, and it is no wonder Takuma tries to maintain a low profile and stays at home studying when he’s not at school.
Unfortunately, the relative peace and quiet of Takuma’s life is broken forever when he returns home to find three of the most popular girls from his class and their six sisters have moved into his house. Worse yet, they are revealed to be Valkyries, daughters of the Norse god Odin, charged with defending humanity from the demons and monsters that seek to bring about the end of the world.
The problem is that the power of a Valkyrie is dependent on her experiencing love, and Odin, for reasons that make sense only to the King of the Aesir, has decreed that all nine of his daughters are to take Takuma as a lover. Now Takuma can’t get a bit of studying done because of all the young women demanding he hold their hand or take them shopping. And when monsters start attacking the city when they’re out in public, only some deep heavy petting can trigger the Valkyrie’s transformation into her battle mode so that she can save the day.
I had Val x Love recommended to me because of my love of Norse mythology without being informed that it was a harem manga. As far as harem manga go, it has an interesting set-up and a unique concept, and the Valkyries being required to “level up” their powers like video game characters is an interesting conceit.
Most of the humor of the comic is based around mocking Takuma’s social anxiety and his near-supernatural ability to have the worst possible outcome result from his awkwardness and his desire to avoid people. If a classmate falls out an open window trying to back away from him, everyone will assume that Takuma threw them through it. If Takuma trips trying to get away from a crowd, you can be sure he’ll try to cushion his fall by grabbing some young woman’s breasts and land with his face buried up her skirt. This is par for the course for this kind of comic, but Ryosuke Asakura does little to make the story stand out, apart from the base concept and the Valkyrie element. Beyond that, the stories quickly grow repetitive, with only the girls changing between chapters as Takuma encounters more demons.
The most unique storyline centers around Takuma’s date with Mutsumi, whose contract as a Japanese idol singer forbids her dating. This adds an extra element of excitement to their efforts to level-up Mutsumi’s powers, as they must avoid attracting the attention of the demons hunting the Valkyries and a group of rabid fans (who were tipped off by one of the demons) who start tearing apart the mall trying to find their crush.
Ryosuke Asakura’s artwork is technically competent, but heavily driven by a male-gaze aesthetic, even by the standards of harem manga. There are a large number of pin-up shots and up-skirt shots that take up whole pages. While this is to be expected, the action sequences are often crammed into a number of small boxes on a single page. This is something of a problem in a series where the Valkyrie’s fighting is meant to be at least as important as their efforts in getting their lover to feel them up and activate their superpowers.
The series is rated M for readers 18 and up and Val x Love more than earns that rating. There is bloody violence, numerous adult situations, and a considerable amount of nudity, This is the most troubling aspect of the series, as there are numerous nude pin-ups of the younger Valkyries who appear to be tweens, despite being goddess that are hundreds of years old. That alone is enough for me to not recommend Val x Love for any library.
Val x Love, vols. 1-2
By Ryousuke Asakura
vol 1 ISBN: 9780316480086
vol 2 ISBN: 9780316446938Yen Press, 2018
Publisher Age Rating: M