While I intend to get my Rescue Me! series back up and running in the near future, I recently received an email from a reader of Manga Widget asking if I would be interested in discussing one of her favorite manga that is currently in need of a rescue. After a little discussion, Teresa wrote a nice guest post below. If you have a license you want rescued and would like to have your writing featured at Manga Widget, please contact mangawidget *at* gmail *dot* com. Teresa tweets at @Vineyardelf.
Kyo Kara Maoh! is a fantasy series originally licensed by Tokyopop, but remains unfinished in English after the company closed shop in 2011. It started out as a series of light novels written by Tomo Takabayashi in 2000, and was adapted into a manga illustrated by Temari Matsumoto and published in Kadokawa Shoten’s Asuka anthology. The first seven English volumes are available from the secondary market, but the series is still ongoing, with at least a 15th volume in Japan currently published.
The series details the story of Yuri Shibuya, a seemingly typical 15 year-old Japanese boy, as he is transported into an alternate universe where humans and demons coexist. It turns out that Yuri is actually not of our world, and is the next king of the demons. The story follows Yuri as he tries to make sense of his new role, from making peace with the humans next door to handling his accidental engagement to another man. He is helped along the way by his advisors and his new fiancé, all of whom have their own ideas about his kingship and how he should rule. The focus of the story seems to be on the relationships between the new king and his advisors as they struggle to bring peace and prosperity to the land, and it’s engrossing to watch Yuri develop from the different perspectives of his advisors and guardians.
At first blush, Kyo Kara Maoh! seems to be a simple male harem fantasy story, but it actually has surprising depth. Yuri is a genuinely likeable protagonist while still managing to have flaws. In fact, one of the most appealing parts of the story is how flawed but relatable and lovable the characters are. There are no perfect Prince Charmings in this story; even the most affable of the advisors has his secrets.
The story is also light and easy to read while still being engaging. I started to read the first volume with a healthy sense of skepticism, but was completely absorbed by the middle of the book. Kyo Kara Maoh! manages to be serious while still funny enough to keep me giggling out loud at the lighthearted parts, to the point that I was garnering stares from people nearby. I also am impressed at the way the male-male engagement has been handled so far in the first seven volumes. It’s an important part of the story that does not overwhelm the rest of the story, and it’s really heartwarming to see the relationship develop at a realistic pace outside of mere physical attraction.
I’ve been dying to continue Kyo Kara Maoh! ever since I learned that there were more volumes. Given their previous rescue of other old Tokyopop titles, I can definitely see thing being picked up by Yen Press, perhaps in collected volumes as the single ones are somewhat thin. Jaded as I am, it’s rare for me to get so absorbed, and I would hate to see a series with such broad appeal languish.