Devil’s Candy is an OEL (Original English Language) manga that has a surprisingly long history. Written by Bikkuri and with art by Rem, this title began as a short story that was published by Tokyopop as part of their first ever Rising Stars of Manga Anthology. In fact, it was the grand prize winner of that competition! Rather than develop the story into a full series with Tokyopop, Bikkuri and REM turned down a contract with them and held onto the idea for years, before eventually publishing it on their own as a web comic. It’s an interesting journey, and I encourage you to read Anime Herald’s article on the series’ history, to get the full story.
Now, the Devil’s Candy web comic has received a print release, and I decided to give it a try, as I’m a fan of Rem’s artwork and I thought the premise sounded intriguing.
So, here are my first impressions of Devil’s Candy!
Kazu has a true passion for science and wants to show off his skills by creating the best science project in his whole class! He’s also kind of lonely, so, he decides to use his genius to create a living girl out of scavenged parts! Thus, Pandora is born into the world. She’s a girl of very little words, preferring to tackle problems with her fists instead.
Kazu feels a great sense of responsibility for his new friend/creation, and wants to show her all of the wonders that the Devil World has to offer. Too bad their school is a hotbed of weirdos who routinely release dangerous monsters on campus, or find some other way to cause havoc and destruction. Thankfully, with her super strength and lack of fear or sense of consequences, this isn’t anything that Pandora can’t handle!
REM and Bikkuri have crafted a unique and appealing world in Devil’s Candy that’s bursting at the seams with character. The backgrounds are spooky and atmospheric. The character designs are brilliant and manage to combine elements of both the cute and the bizarre – and occasionally the grotesque. It’s like a manga-fied Halloween Town world!
The Devil World is apparently home to many eccentrics who, let’s say, “march to the beat of their own drum”. Even some of the more normal characters, like Kazu or Hitomi, are very intense about certain things. As such, everyone basically seems to do whatever they want, consequences be damned! Thus, Kazu and his friend’s lives are a constant struggle for survival. In this volume alone, their school is menaced by a science experiment gone wrong (or right, depending on who you ask), a horde of ghosts and Pandora is very nearly killed while trying to participate in a student fashion competition! There’s never a dull moment for this group!
I found all of this mayhem to be very funny. Pandora is pretty much feral (though she does appear to be learning and growing as she experiences more of the world), so she’s constantly charging head first at problems and trying to pummel anyone who threatens her or Kazu. It’s a ton of fun to watch poor, sweet Kazu try to rein her in and teach her how to be “normal”.
There are also a ton of kooky side-characters that get up to hilarious antics throughout the book. I got a good chuckle over how half of Kazu’s class also tried to make a girl as their science project (though most were less successful), and I loved the cowardly school principal, whose life is a constant torment, as something catastrophic is always happening at his school.
This comedic tone helps keep the darker elements of the book from ever feeling too serious, making sure that Devil’s Candy remains a silly romp, even when people are getting absorbed by a fleshy blob monster or having their fingers lopped off.
Devil’s Candy is an imaginative and energetic series. It’s full of action and humor, as the adorable cast of demonic teens try their best to stay alive in their crazy world, and have a blast while doing it. I think this manga might have a tad too much gore to be suitable for kids, but it’s a great series for teens and I really enjoyed it. Not sure how long we’ll have to wait for volume two, but I’m already looking forward to it.
Final Score: 8 out of 10.
For more information on this manga, visit Viz Media’s website.
What did you think of this manga? Any long-time fans of this story that remember it from its Rising Stars of Manga days? Let me know in the comments.
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