English: The Devil Does Exist
Synonyms: Akuma De Sorou, Akuma de Sourou, Akuma de Soro, The Devil Beside Me, Lovely Devil, Flying Rabbit, July
Published: Jan 1, 1998 to Dec 2002
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School, Shoujo
Authors: Takanashi, Mitsuba (Story & Art)
It began as a typical shoujo manga - confession and confusion, blackmail and truces - gradually changing to forbidden romance between two step-siblings, not unlike the scenario seen in the manga Marmalade Boy. Cute, sweet, but nothing particularly unique or new.
And it basically remains much like that, plus a lot of what we already see in most shoujo-based manga - redefining characters, going over their dark and dirty pasts, and in the end a happy ending.
Saitou Kayano, a 17-year-old schoolgirl, attempts to confess to her crush but ends up dropping her love letter in front of the most mischevious male student in the school, Edogawa Takeru, before running away in embarrassment. The title of this series, "Akuma de Soro," literally translates to "The Devil Does Exist" - and it fits very well with Takeru's character - he is definitely a tricky character to get along with as Kayano soon learns.
Takanashi adds an extra twist when the single parents of the two characters decide to get married. What begins as a strained scenario of blackmail gradually changes to a delicate relationship between two step-siblings in love.
The popular rebel of the school and son of none other than the Principal himself. Though this wild appearance seems to label him as a stock character, a second glance tells us more about the person behind that layer of armour - his mother left him as a small child and took his younger brother with her, leaving him with a deep feeling of insecurity when it came to family relationships. He is also a rather intelligent student despite his rogue-ish appearance.
Though I hate to say it, Kayano is your typical shoujo female protagonist - dense, kind-hearted, and oftentimes a bit of a klutz. There isn't much else to say about her - she's more dependent than independent, she cries easily....
There were times when I was ready to reject the artwork altogether, and times when I simply stared at all the inhumanly handsome hunks and laughed.
If there was one thing I liked about the art, it was the lack of anorexic-bodied females; if there was one thing I didn't like, it was the wild hair style that made the characters look like they had rampant tulips growing from their heads.
Other than that though, fairly average.
As the series moves further along, there is a noticeable pattern that Takanashi seems to follow - there is a recurring sequence of roles being redefined. The story focuses a lot on family relationships by constantly referring to each character's role in society - for example, a sibling must act as a sibling, nothing more; the proper conduct parents must have in order to serve as good role models for their children; and the growth period which bridges the gap between childhood and adulthood.
The author tends to break many of these societal roles by applauding rebellious behavior: step-siblings who, since they are not related by blood, can happily fall in love; parents who can be open-minded enough to accept the fact that their respective stepchildren have become more than just friends (or siblings); and prospects for a college-bound, successful future which still allows room for a strong relationship to grow into marriage.
All in all, Akuma de Soro is a story written from a very optimistic point of view. If you like these kinds of themes, with little dramatic twists here and there, this will be a good read.