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Demon Diary

Note:

Ah, Demon Diary. This is one of the first series I’ve ever read–besides Sailor Moon, of course. I was first attracted to it by the cover. Yep, I’m one of those. ~*Oooooo, Pretty*~ So I saw this comic with some chick on the cover doing magic.

But, oh, no wait…chick? Dude? What is it!?

Like I said, it was one of the earlier manga’s I’ve read, so I wasn’t sure once I started reading it if Raenef was male or female. The whole relationship between him and Eclipse didn’t help much–please keep in mind, I was reading this in like the early 2000s, and while the LGBT community existed, I was just out of High School and starting college, leaving a small town for a slightly larger town. You didn’t see much of this when I was younger (I love androgyny now, but up ’til this, I only knew the God David Bowie.) Still, you’d have thought I could have twigged on it from the whole “Lord Raenef,” but I thought maybe it was a translator’s mistake. Nope! Raenef’s a dude. But, before the end of the manga, I finally got it. And so, I was introduced to Yaoi for the first time. Well…not really Yaoi, but something close to it–Shounen Ai (since there’s no actual love making, or even the insinuation that Eclipse and Raenef make love ever.)

Once I got into the story, I really enjoyed it. This manga, along with Sailor Moon, really helped me get into the whole manga scene. But wait! This comic is of Korean origin–so I have actually been using the incorrect terminology. It’s actually a manhwa, so unlike it’s cousin in Japan (manga, duh) it reads like western books: left to right. That kinda helped me, too, since I wasn’t yet used to the left to right format. Believe it or not, I had gotten the Pocket company Sailor Moons, so I didn’t even know the printed books right to left at this stage in my comic obsession.

One thing I need to comment on this manhwa: the introduction. If you read this comic, you’ll find at the very beginning, we’ve got an older Raenef, talking to some kid with bunny ears and wires sticking out of her cheek.

*SPOILER ALERT* This story arc is NEVER resolved. I was so freakin’ confused by the end of the story. And I was kinda ticked, like “Isn’t there more? What about the bunny chick!?” Since it irritated me so much, I did some research for this post, so that you won’t have to be as irritated as me. First, there is no resolution because a different person picks up on the story after volume 1. Second, there probably will not be a conclusion, since the thing’s done and over with. But, if anyone gets wind that Lee Chi Hyong is gonna work with Kara to finish that arc, let me know, please! I would have liked to see what was going on in the future. It’s a good series. If you want to learn more about where I got my info, then check out these links, please:

Mangafox blog thread

Wikipedia info

It should also be noted, in this first volume, there are two short stories at the end called Crystal Heart and Terra. Since they kinda are just extras, I don’t want to deal too much with them. They’re okay, and you’ll enjoy reading them since they come along with the main manhwa.

Okidoki. With that, I say we get this party started! Demon Diary, we begin!

*This review has spoilers. Nothing major, but a few. Proceed with caution!*

Demon Diary, Volume 1-Recommended

Mangaka: Story/Lee Chi Hyong; Art/KARA
Copyright: 2000
Genre: Shounen Ai, Fantasy, Comedy
Chapters:

  • Prologue (pg. 3)
  • Section 1 (pg. 14)
  • Section 2 (pg. 37
  • Section 3 (pg. 66)
  • Section 4 (pg. 85)

 

Summary:

The gods have chosen a young, naive demon to become the fifth great Lord Raenef. Eclipse, servant to the late Raenef IV, has been charged with the task of mentoring and guiding Raenef through the trials and education of becoming a demon lord: a task easier said than done. This proves to be difficult because the new lord is…how shall we put this? A little dense. I don’t want to say he’s a drooling idiot, since he’s pretty young (though what age, it’s never disclosed,) but there are times when you’re just…”wha?” And well, he does drool quite a bit (37, 99, 109, 112.) This is all besides the point. He doesn’t seem to be getting the whole gloom and doom evil maniacal demon act. He’d much rather be nice to people and treat his subordinates as his equals.

And the other demon lords?

They’re not down with that, because if they get the reputation of being a bunch of pansies, then they’re gonna have all these clerics and knights taking up arms and battling against them to over throw them for good. They’ve gotta keep the “bad ass” reputation, or people aren’t going to take them seriously, and give them all kinds of problems. Besides, I mean, come on. A demon with a flowery disposition? That’s not too cool.

So Eclipse is working with the young Padawan, trying to teach him the ways of the force…er…I mean, magic and demon ways. Dark Side. Right.

There’s a lot of educating, and a lot of scolding, and some magic usage and ceremonies. Little bit of sneak attack on Raenef from a knight while Eclipse is away. You know, usual demon-y learning stuffs.

Pros and Cons: Story and Content

Characters:

Well, there’s not a lot of character development, since the story’s so short, but we get a bit of . We know that Raenef is a cheery, good-hearted young chap who means well, and really wants to make Eclipse proud. We also learn that as happy as Raenef seems, there’s some bad times affecting him in his past (70-1). So although there’s not a lot of growth going on here, you get the idea that Raenef wasn’t always so happy-go-lucky, and that his disposition is some kind of defense mechanism brought on from being picked on and ostracized as a young child. That’s a lot of inference for such a story volume, but Hyong and Kara do an excellent job of this by simply adding two flashbacks and a little bit of dialog. That’s why, in spite of much content, I give this manhwa some major kudos. You know there’s more to come in the following volumes.

You also learn quite a bit about Eclipse. In his past, he’s been close to his master and has served him well–even coming up with some serious damaging magic for half the magic cost (48-50)! And to top it off, he and his former master were so diabolical, they helped completely dismantle the kingdoms of old by giving this power to mankind and having them destroy their own civilizations (though not completely of course.) He seems a stiff and prissy, but you get the idea that he’s not to be pissed with. Most the time, though, his energy is drained by trying to impress upon Raenef the importance of his position, and the legacy he must uphold. So we only see the dark side every so often (104.) All the same, you also are being lead to believe that he’s not such a bad dude, in that he’s really getting a soft spot for Raenef. Which can viewed as either cute or creepy. I’m all into yaoi, but depending on how old this new Raenef is, this may be boarding Shotocon…only without the actual sex and stuff.

Anyway, the two main characters are developing well, so it left me with a good impression.

Cons about the characters? Well, not to be mean, but they are a bit of a stereotype. The innocent, naive young boy, and the mature mentor. Raenef is all wide-eyed and pure in his thoughts, where Eclipse is moody and impatient with him (though, to give this servant credit, he has more patience than I’d have with him.) At this point, they’re just a bit like other characters I’ve seen around (in fact, geez, aside from the over sappiness of Toru’s kindness ((Fruit’s Basket,)) I’d almost compare Raenef to her on the oblivious level…but both do redeem themselves from time to time with certain actions they take.) But, it’s not a major flaw in the story, and sometimes you get a little chuckle from it, so I wouldn’t say it detracts from this volume overall.

Story:

I like the story so far, but keep in mind, there isn’t much going yet. It’s only 114 pages long, so there wasn’t a lot of space to make a ton of stuff happen. But it moves along quickly, and the story’s interesting. There’s intrigue built by the little snippets of the past we see. Who was the original Lord Raenef? And what happened to him? Did he die, step aside, or just blow town? Why was such a young demon picked to take over such a huge void left by the great demon lord? The author and illustrator are very good at using what small space they have to create major questions the reader wants to have answered. And further more, who is this knight who’s just come from no where to fight a demon lord? This person wasn’t very skilled to have been defeated so easily (though, granted, Raenef is supposed to be pretty powerful…), so why would they put themselves in so much danger? We hope to see this answered in the future, and you learn enough about the character’s personalities to care about what’s next.

I enjoyed how well Hyong builds a relationship between Raenef and Eclipse. It’s slow, but steady; the way they grow to like and accept one another. True, Eclipse continues to push Raenef to become a a talented Lord, but at the same time, we see the bond strengthening and taking hold (52-3, 112-4.) It’s realistic, how through a little exasperation, they are able to get to know one another, and even like each other’s idiosyncrasies. It’s often times like that in real life: someone does something that kind of annoys you, but though growing tolerance, you actually learn to appreciate that person and even like what once annoyed you. Doesn’t always happen, but it does from time to time.  So I think Hyong is pretty good at constructing that bond and making it realistic. The whole teacher/student relationship. Uh…like Harry Potter and Dumbledore, right? Harry has enormous talent just waiting to shine through, but he’s a diamond in the rough, so it takes special care and honing from mentors like Dumbledore to really get him doing his best. The same thing is happening here. Kinda.

Or maybe not. Who knows!? But I think a comparison can be drawn (hee hee, drawn! That’s  a little pun. Shaggy from Scoobie Doo would be proud.)

I also liked how Hyong made me giggle so much. I can’t say I was falling out of my seat laughing, but I was smiling to myself at different jokes and I got a kick out of the sarcasm.

I can’t complain too much about the story, except that it was pretty short. You get too many extras at the end. I liked the bonus stories, but they weren’t why I bought the manhwa. I wanted more of the actual story at hand, but I suppose we can’t always get what we want…until the next volume. Sometimes Raenef’s naivety got a bit monotonous, but other than that, I don’t think I have many complaints. It’s a good story, and it’s only just begun!

Pros and Cons: Art

The artwork is fantastic. I think I started one other series illustrated by KARA*, but haven’t gotten into that one yet. She’s an amazing manga-ka. Seriously, I mean, this chick’s got some talent. I learned by reading her little message in the front that Demon Diary is her first book to be put out! Granted, she’s probably done some work before all this, but still, not too shabby! I think the characters look beautiful, and the style–you can generally tell it’s her. She’s a professional, and it certainly shows!

There’s really nothing I could suggest to improve it. My only concern was how serious the cover of the manhwa was in comparison to the actual story. Now, I have come across some other copies of this over the Internet, and I think the series may have been reissued, but the copy I have is the one seen at the top of this review. All dark and serious, whereas the story is mostly light-hearted and cute.

*Note: I refer to KARA as one person–and in the female pronoun. The reasoning? It’s easier than explaining right there who KARA is. According to Wikipedia, KARA is a manga-ka duo. In the introduction they write (and it’s actually only one person writing on behalf of both, is what I get,) one of them explains where the name KARA comes from: the Bible. Kara’s a girl’s name, so I say “she” and “her.” Also, this kinda reminds me of CLAMP, and they’re all girls. Now, I’ve been trying to see if Kim Yoon-gyeong and Jeong Eun-sook are girls, or boys, or one’s a girl, and the other’s a boy. I’m sorry. I’m not trying to insult Korean names at all: in fact, I think they’re pretty. But seeing as I’m not nearly as immersed in the Korean culture as I am in the Japanese, I do not know if these are girl or boy names. Please let me know, if you know! I will update this. I think Kim Yoon-gyeong is definitely female. But I’m not sure about Jeong Eun-sook…I couldn’t find any information on them personally. That sucks! Cause I want to know!

Conclusion:

I’m enjoying this re-reading of Demon Diary. I can’t say it’s my favorite story in all the whole wide world, but it’s got some good elements, and if you’re into Shounen Ai, then you’ll like the cute companionship found in Demon Diary. Of course, you have to read more to really get deeper into Eclipse and Raenef’s relationship, but the seed’s been planted and is beginning to take root. I think most people who enjoy Yaoi or Shounen Ai will enjoy this manhwa. I know I did!

Demon Diary SeriesRecommended!

Citation:

Hyong, Lee Chi. Demon Diary. Illstr. KARA. Trans. Lauren na. Vol. 1. Los Angeles: Tokyopop, 2003.

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