Mugen Spiral by Mizuho Kusanagi
Kusanagi is one of those manga creators whose work I find pleasant enough, but it doesn’t really have that something extra that turns a series into a favorite. I enjoyed her series Game X Rush and the first volume of NG Life, but I’m not really compelled to read them again. I was happy to sample Mugen Spiral though because it featured a cute male demon being trapped in cat form. This might be an oddly specific story point to go for, but Vampire Game (which I also enjoyed) had a very similar premise. I wonder if there are even more manga out there about cute demons trapped in cat form? Demonic attributes would certainly explain why cats act so crazy.
In this case the demon trapped as a cat is Prince Uru, the heir to the throne of the underworld. He came to earth on a mission to devour the spiritual power of a human. Unfortunately he decided to prey on the orphan priestess Yayoi, who promptly encased him in a cat’s body with the aid of a handy relic. The manga opens with Yayoi bickering with her new pet. Her parents are both gone, and she’s desperately lonely. She goes to school and manages her family’s temple all by herself, so having a hostile demon-cat around actually provides her with some company even though he is saying things to her like “I shall devour you and absorb your powers as mine. Only then shall you bear witness to my true strength.” The format of the manga is a fairly typical monster of the week scenario, but a few things make it enjoyable.
As you might expect the relationship between Uru and Yayoi deepens and grows over time. Uru has three forms, his full demon form which manifests only when Yayoi decides to release his powers, his powerless human form, and his cute black cat form. Uru tags along in various guises as Yayoi goes to school, the beach, and on other errands related to her mission as a priestess. Yayoi’s classmates squee with delight when he shows up at school and he’s amazed by their magical cell phones. The other thing I enjoyed about this series was Yayoi’s quiet confidence. In the author notes Kusanagi mentions that she first thought of Yayoi as a scaredy-cat but she decided to go in the opposite direction for her main character after the manga was fully developed. This made the series much more entertaining. Yayoi is the target of other demons who also want to steal her powers and beat out Uru for the demonic kingship. While Uru might work to save her on the principle of “no one preys on her but me” Yayoi’s immense spiritual power ensures that most of the time she’s horribly underestimated by her demonic foes and she can handily save herself.
I usually find most two volume manga a little unsatisfying. It just doesn’t seem like there are usually enough pages to completely resolve all the dangling plot points, and Mugen Spiral isn’t an exception. There are story lines mentioned but not fully explored, like the illness of Uru’s father and the future of Yayoi and her demon-prince cat. Overall, I think this is my favorite Kusanagi series just due to the presence of a demon cat. I guess I can add “demon cats” to the list of manga plots I inexplicably like along with “sudden housekeeper to a cute boy,” “cross dressing pop idols,” and “Oh no! We must save the Tokyo Tower from destruction!” This version of Mugen Spiral prints the two volume series in an oversized omnibus edition, which is a good choice for a manga as short as this. I thought it was a little disappointing that there were a few spelling glitches in a second edition of previously published material.
Review copy provided by the publisher