Pretty Unicorns and the Beast of the Pit
“Demon Sacred” seems to be a bit of an experiment for Tokyo Pop. Both Volume 1 and Volume 2 are being released on the same day, and at about half the price of their usual manga. I am not sure if this is just a tactic to get people hooked or if they will keep it up for the whole series but I have to say that I approve.
Aside from the pricing , “Demon Sacred” is pretty good. When I saw that cover, I thought I was in for a typical “Flowers and Pretty Boys” shojo series, and when the opening page has a heard of beautiful unicorns charging out of the Aurora I was even more worried. But this is the author of the Hard Science Fiction series JYU-OH-SEI and Natsumi Itsuki rarely delivers pure fluff. Diving into fantasy like this is different from her previous work, but it turns out that she handles it just fine.
In fact, “Demon Sacred” is almost a mix of Sci Fi and Fantasy. The series takes place in an unknown future when over 100,000 people have become victims of “Return Syndrome,” a disease that causes the body to age in reverse until you disappear (ala the Sci Fi epic Hyperion). Scientists are working around the clock to find the origin of this condition, but without success. Once scientist in particular, Shinobu, is obsessed with finding a cure as the disease is directly affecting one of the twin girls in his care. Rina and Mona are twins, but whereas Mona is their true age of fourteen Rina has regressed to about nine years old and doesn’t have too many more years to go.
Into the lives of Shinobu, Rina and Mona comes Mika, a demon in the guise of a Finnish composer who died long ago. It turns out that Mika was one of those unicorns from the opening scene, and he was bound into this form by Rina and Mona’s mother. The “Return Syndrome” turns out to be the effect of demons and other magical creatures returning to Earth, and their eternal existence wrecks havoc with the time-sense of normal humans. But in a rare effect, come humans can bind the demons to do their bidding, and Mika was so bound by Rina and Mona’s mother. The only way to cure Rina is to bind a more powerful demon and force him to slow down Rina’s rapid regression.
So you can see, it is actually a pretty thick plot with some heavy concepts being bounced around. Of course, Natsumi delivers plenty of eye candy as all the demons seem to be bound in the forms of idealized men by the girls around them, and Mona eventually binds her own demon (THE demon, as in the actual one bearing the mark 666) in the form of a pop star she admires. The art here is very nice, and the volume never gets so deep into shojo territory that guys can’t enjoy it as well.
I haven’t read through Volume 2 yet, but that is next on my list. I think Tokyo Pop has done a smart thing here by making these comics cheap enough to pick up on a whim, and good enough to keep the reader hooked.