Title – The Demon Prince of Momochi House
Story & Art by – Aya Shouoto
Publisher – VIZ Media LLC
Release Date – July 7, 2015
Synopsis – “On her sixteenth birthday, orphan Himari Momochi inherits her ancestral estate that she's never seen. Momochi House exists on the barrier between the human and spiritual realms, and Himari is meant to act as guardian between the two worlds. But on the day she moves in, she finds three handsome squatters already living in the house, and one seems to have already taken over her role!”
When picking up a new manga series, whether it’s a romance or an action-based read, I always ask myself: will this manga set itself apart from others in its specific genre? So, does The Demon Prince of Momochi House provide something new to the oh-so-popular Shojo genre? Not exactly, but that’s not necessary a bad thing for fans of the genre.
While reading The Demon Prince of Momochi House, I couldn’t help but draw similarities to another popular Shojo title: Kamisama Kiss. The similarities aren’t glaringly obvious and can only be picked up on by individuals who have either read or watched Kamisama Kiss. While the two titles do share similarities, The Demon Prince of Momochi House tries its level best to stand out and apart, with some success. The premise is quite simple and the synopsis sums up the first volume quite perfectly.
Himari Momochi moves into her inherited ancestral estate, The Momochi House, which is said to be haunted by The Omamori-Sama, who turns out to be the kind-hearted Aoi Nanamori. He is living in the house with his two Shikigami’s Yukari and Ise, along with multiple ayakashi’s (demon’s or spirits).
It’s Aoi’s duty to protect the estate, which is a space in between the material world and the spiritual realm; Nue, the other side to Aoi, claims to be the true owner of The Momochi House. As far as supernatural stories go, this title doesn’t exactly bring something new or unique to the fold, however how Aoi came to be The Omamori-Sama was a nice twist that wasn’t focused on nearly as much as it should have been. Aoi’s companions, Yukari and Ise, are also left out of the story quite a bit, which I found odd; shouldn’t a series fully develop its characters first before delving into romantic territory? That’s one of the downsides of this volume; it hardly develops its characters and instead focuses immediately on building the romance between Aoi and Himari.
Himari’s characterization is perhaps the weakest point of the volume. Yes, she has her humorous moments, yet all she really does is fit the bill as the series damsel in distress; Himari sets out to help, but only ends up endangering herself and, in the end, she gets rescued by Aoi’s Omamori-Sama form Nue.
The first volume gets redundant quite quickly because of how often Himari needs rescuing. She also hardly seems to possess any sort of intelligence and often acts blatantly idiotic; Himari acknowledges her flaws, and yet she seems hell-bent on putting herself and others in danger.
I can’t help but cringe at the author’s characterization of Himari; Himari may only be 16 years old, but that doesn’t mean she needs to be shown with the mental capacity of a toddler. I don’t hate Himari; in fact, I really like her. She’s funny, kind, and has the potential to do so much and be so much more than what she currently is. It seems disrespectful for the author to only have Himari be in danger or blush at every single thing Aoi says or does. Himari has the potential to be such a strong character, and yet the author is already wasting the potential Himari has to offer. I’m hoping Himari ditches her job as the manga’s damsel in distress and grows a sense of self- preservation. If she’s characterized the same way she was for the first volume in volumes to come, then the manga series will be a pain to read.
The main male protagonist, Aoi Nanamori, is perhaps one of the sweetest Shojo characters introduced, and yet even he suffers from a lack of character development. A major plus side is that Aoi is, thankfully, no bad boy and instead he’s a genuinely kind character who cares for and respects Himari.
If asked who I think Aoi resembles personality-wise, then I would say he’s a mixture of Kazehaya (Kimi ni Todoke) and Natsume (Natsume’s Book of Friends). That’s not to say Aoi has no flaws; a major issue I have with most Shojo series is that the romance is rushed, and I had high hopes that The Demon Prince of Momochi House would be different. However, abruptly through the first volume, it appears as though Aoi has already developed a romantic interest in Himari and she’s only been in the house for a few days.
Not even halfway through the volume, Aoi states, “If I can’t save her, there’s no reason for me to keep living.” This is the moment where my frustration with the series really began to seep through. Is a slow-paced romance so hard to develop? Aoi slips into bed with Himari often and even exerts all his energy to make the environment safe for Himari. That’s sweet and all, but where does his attachment stem from? I understand Aoi’s a kindhearted individual, but his powerful attachment to her right off the bat seems random and poorly executed. I’m sure the series will delve into this as it progresses, but in my eyes it served as a major downside to the overall narrative. A sweet, more slow-paced romance would have done wonders to this supernatural Shojo series.
I can acknowledge the fact that I was expecting too much from the first volume of this series, which is an unfair task to live up to. After all, the story has only just begun.
So, despite all my frustrations and criticisms for The Demon of Momochi House, I’ll continue reading the series. Why? One, the art of the series is absolutely gorgeous and made the first volume worthwhile and two, there is hope for the series to get better.
The ending to the first volume greatly piqued my curiosity plot-wise and I have high hopes that the manga series will improve in more ways than one. I don’t expect The Demon of Momochi House to go down the path of a slow-paced romance, which is quite disappointing, but as an exchange I’m hoping to see lots and lots of character development. At this point, I hope to see more focus on Aoi’s past, his bond and relationship with Yukari and Ise in particular, and a development of a stronger Himari; a look into Yukari and Ise’s past would be greatly appreciated as well.
Overall Score for The Demon of Momochi House volume 1: 5.5 out of 10 – it’s just barely above average and is nowhere near perfect, but my hopes for improvement remain high!