An experienced mangaka and doujinshi (fan comic) artist in the shoujo genre, Aya Shouoto of Kiss of the Rose Bride (Barajou no Kiss) fame brings yet another manga into serialization with The Demon Prince of Momochi House (Momochi-san Chi no Ayakashi Ouji). The series is published in English under Viz Media’s Shoujo Beat label with JN Productions, a prolific localization company known for their work on Boys Over Flowers (Hana Yori Dango) and Kimi ni Todoke – From Me To You to name a few, providing the English translation.
On her sixteenth birthday, the orphaned Himari Momochi receives a strange sort of present: ownership of the remote and allegedly haunted Momochi House. Abandoned by her parents and family at a young age, Himari leaps at the chance to claim the house as her own. Yet her hopes are quickly dashed when she arrives and finds that three squatters have trashed the place and seem hell bent on driving Himari out of her newfound house and home. As Himari butts heads with these three slackers–Yukari, Ise, Aoi Nanamori–she quickly comes to learn that Momochi House isn’t what it seems.
The rumors of spirits and hauntings are more than rumors. Sitting on the boundary between the human world and the spirit world, Momochi House is infested with ayakashi and demons, leaving Himari with quite a handful as a brand new landlady. While Yukari and Ise reveal that they are demons themselves, Aoi hides an even deeper secret. Having stumbled upon Momochi House in his youth, Aoi is bound to the house as the nue and guardian of the boundary that it represents. Yet even though it’s Aoi who possesses the power as the house’s protector, for some reason the demons and spirits of Momochi House set their sites on Himari instead…
A reverse harem shoujo through and through, The Demon Prince of Momochi House is an energetic read for any fans of the genre. It plays against some of the tropes of its own genre at times, such as when Himari outright criticizes the flirtatious way that Ise and Yukari fawn over Aoi, giving the story a lighthearted and upbeat feeling. Himari herself shines as a heroine, determined and unwilling to put up with any of the disrespect from squatters, demons, or otherwise, but does seem to revert to being a damsel in distress more often than not. The story’s charm shows in how Aoi, the clear romantic interest, is shown as being just as socially awkward and inept as one would expect from someone raised in isolation by two demonic familiars.
The first volume does leave something to be desired in places, especially since the focus of the house’s demons seems to be on Himari’s power and lineage while the story and characters seem more interested in exploring Aoi’s own powers. However, the fact that these hints at something greater remain consistent throughout the volume leaves a hope that future volumes might shed light on what it means to be from the Momochi clan.
Shouoto’s art style also compliments the genre, with clean, thin lines and the occasional side panel of chibi reaction shots. Although the series does fall into the shoujo trap of indistinct character designs for the men, since there’s only four characters to follow at this time, it doesn’t prove to be too much of a distraction. Shouoto shows enough consistency in style as well that it’s easy to recognize who’s who within the volume.
Though there are some bumps in the road for the adaptation, the terrible choice of typesetting at the start of chapter two being one of them, the characters all shine through with clear and consistent voices that shows the level of experience that JN Productions brings to the fore as leaders in the localization field.
If you’re looking for something that’s a little bit like a romantic comedy blended supernatural horror in a Japanese flavor, you’ll find what you need in The Demon Prince of Momochi House. Though it isn’t a series where anyone should expect any kind of serious plot, and at times shows the faults of its own genre, it promises a fun and easy read with an appealing, well-drawn style.