Series: A Devil and Her Love Song Vol. 1
Genres: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Manga, Romance, Young Adult
Rumors fly around new student to Tosuka High, Maria Kawai. Her cool and sophisticated face and very blunt words make others uncomfortable, and she has a habit of stating the absolute worst of others to their faces. She was expelled frm St. Katria School for punching a teacher, and won't wear her new school's uniform! She must be a devil! However, when her schoolmates Shin Meguro and Yuuske Kanda hear her singing the song, 'Amazing Grace' as it plays over the intercom at the end of the day, they learn that this devil may in fact be an angel in disguise.
Welcome back to Manga Monday. Today we’re looking at Akuma to Love Song.
Akuma to Love Song, or A Devil and her Love Song in the US, is a shōjo manga. It was written by Miyoshi Tomori and first serialized in Biweekly Margaret. Viz Media picked up the English rights, and it is currently on-going in both the US and Japan.
Looking at the cover, we see a very ‘haughty’ school girl with a smooth bob-cut hairstyle, holding a Celtic cross in her lips. The position inverts the cross, giving a very suggestive idea that she is wicked. This girl is our protagonist, Maria Kawai, and she isn’t what she appears to be.
The story starts with Maria’s arrival to Tosuka High. Because she’s beautiful and wears her old uniform, the St. Katria uniform, she gets lots of attention. But Maria doesn’t start things out on the right foot. In fact, whenever she talks to her classmates, she either makes blunt and clear observations – usually remarking on the unappealing or worst traits of those who speak to her- or she’s telling the blatant truth without making it ‘pretty’ for the sake of saving face. This and rumors about her reason for expulsion from St. Katria- violence against a teacher- she is ostrasized and hated by her classmates. Only two, Yuuske Kanda and Shin Meguro, have any curiosity on if there’s truth to the rumors. Kanda, mostly, as he developes a crush on Maria and he wants everyone in their class to get along. Meguro is drawn in even though he’s more of a ‘delinquent type’ and doesn’t care.
One afternoon, as the school day comes to an end, the intercom plays a song that no one really knows, but have heard before. Then Kanda and Meguro hear a beautiful, enchanting voice singing to the music. When the search for the source, they find it is Maria singing, in English no less! The song is ‘Amazing Grace’, and it is Maria’s favorite song. Eventually the boys become friends with Maria, and they learn more about her. She’s not trying to be rude or hateful with her bluntness, but is merely being honest and sees no reason to lie just to save-face. She also really wants to be friends because she’s never really had any except for two- a girl from her school whom she believes she hurt once, and the nun she supposedly hit- who also happened to give her the cross she wears. With Kanda’s advice on how to make her words ‘true but lovely’ and Meguro defending her and standing up with her, Maria soon starts learning how to become friends and overcome the bullying and rumors at her new school. And eventually, how to face her own dark past.
This series is still on-going and has taken a lot of turns, but I love it. First of all, I love the art-style. While it is what one does think of when going to the shoujo genre, the colors in the full-color pages and the black and white designs are still expressive and full of detail. I especially love when Maria gets to wear cute, frilly, girly things because of how much detail is put into the outfits. And not every character is exactly alike, especially among the girls! One such character, Ayu Nakamura, has smaller eyes and is even less pretty than she makes herself to appear without her makeup, and the art shows this well. But we still have a wide range of emotion from Ayu all the same.
Speaking of the characters, each character does go through a progression, especially as they get to know Maria. In a way, Maria brings out the truth in each person she gets involved in, and while the truth isn’t always ‘pretty’, they still become happier for it. Ayu ends up confessing to Kanda because of Maria’s influence, and another character named Hana learns to stop seeking attention through her hypochondria and outbursts and learns to be herself- which is a bit darker than the cute persona she gives off at first. Even early supporters like Kanda and Meguro learn from Maria, with Meguro losing his fears of performing in public to have his debut as a pianist. There are sub-plots like Meguro and Maria falling in love, a rival appearing, and Maria going on a journey to find out what happened to her and her deceased mother in the past, but those would be too spoilery.
If you enjoy high school or slice of life stories, learning to see deeper than the surface, and the occasional Religious-symbols-and-music-as-metaphors thrown in, then Akuma to Love Song is the story for you! I give this manga 4 stars!