The Demon Prince of Momochi House
百千さん家のあやかし王子 (Momochi-san Chi no Ayakashi Ouji)
Shoujo – Romance, supernatural
4 Volumes (ongoing) of 8 Volumes (ongoing)
Orphan Himari suddenly inherits a house. She heads to her new home, ignoring warnings about a curse from the Omamori-sama. Instead, Himari is shocked to find a naked guy and his two friends living in her house! Aoi and the other two want her to leave, but Himari isn’t going to let them or the scary rumors chase her away.
If you are looking for a good male love interest in a shoujo manga, you can’t do much better than Aoi of The Demon Prince of Momochi House.
In a (heterosexual) romance, sometimes I don’t know what’s worse: a bad male lead or a poor female one. Is it worse to have a jerk who plays around with and practically abuses his supposed future soulmate, or is the woman who keeps chasing after such a “prize” even more pathetic? There’s a huge school of thought on this debate, but I think everyone can agree both can ruin a story.
Thankfully, you won’t have to bring up this question in The Demon Prince of Momochi House. Himari and especially Aoi are much more likable than many of their contemporaries. Aoi is a bit forward with his displays of affection, but considering many guys are trying to strip the protagonist, he is pretty tame. He’s on the childish side, so his actions don’t come across as creepy like in other titles. Plus he actually cares for Himari right from the get-go, which I’m sure is going to be explained in a future volume. Meanwhile, Himari is understandably flustered by some of Aoi’s actions, but she doesn’t beat him to a pulp. The most annoying thing about Himari is her insistence on being more like a landlady. Her other major flaw is that she doesn’t always listen to directions (if ever). At least she has good intentions: Himari wants to break Aoi’s curse and learn more about ayakashi. She’s meddlesome, but she eventually shows she deserves a place at Momochi House. Both Aoi and Himari want to help and protect the other, and neither walks around with an emotional stick up their rear. What a concept! Again, it’s especially rare lately for a male love interest not to be a jerk.
Anyways, on to the story.
Himari shows up at her long-lost family home and learns lost and wandering ayakashi live in Momochi House. Aoi acts as the place’s guardian and transforms into a hybrid being known as the nue. His two shikigami, Ise and Yukari, assist him in watching over the boundary. These introductory volumes feature some short story arcs showcasing Aoi’s duties and Himari’s powers. Ise and a couple of new characters also get some attention, and Yukari’s turn seems like it will be coming up in the next volume.
The story isn’t bad (think Kamisama Kiss but with more curses), but it does seems to be wandering a bit. Rather than explaining things directly, the manga almost seems to be taking the long way around. A lot happens, but I don’t know if some of the chapters have a greater purpose in the main mysteries or if they are just glorified filler. For instance, a good portion of the third volume is dedicated to one of Nue’s duties. We get a long, rambling explanation for the job at the end, but does it mean anything? Or will the whole Soga plot be abandoned? Will Himari’s school friends return? Is Aoi going to investigate Himari’s deed to the house some more? Lots of series take several volumes before finding its groove, so I’m not going to rag on the manga too harshly, especially since The Demon Prince of Momochi House is still ongoing in Japan. I just hope Shouoto doesn’t dance around the main plot for too long and end up rushing an ending. Who knows. Maybe some of these subplots will have a point, and make my complaints moot.
I do like the overall atmosphere of the manga. Shouoto’s He’s My Only Vampire is very dramatic to the point you could call it emo; Kiss of the Rose Princess is very much a comedy and has multiple guys vying for Anise’s affections. The Demon Prince of Momochi House is squarely between these two. It isn’t nearly as dark as He’s My Only Vampire, but it is more devoted to the main couple than Kiss of the Rose Princess. It’s not as spastic as He’s My Only Vampire, but it also doesn’t have as clear a goal as Kiss of the Rose Princess. If you didn’t care for her earlier works, you might want to try again with this series. It’s still partly a comedy (although several jokes — especially the landlady schtick I mentioned before — go over like a lead balloon), but the humor fortunately doesn’t occur in the middle of battle or during emotional scenes. In addition, Aoi and Himari’s relationship isn’t being jammed by a third party, making the romance stronger here. I’m hoping we continue to skip (or at least mostly skip) a love triangle. Anyways, the manga’s mood is a marked improvement over her previous works.
One disappointment I can’t forget to mention: each volume is on the short side (around 160 pages).
Her art has also leveled up. The art is noticeably brighter and cleaner than in her earlier series. Each volume is given a color insert for readers to admire, which helps make up for the smaller pagecount. (The fact that the series retails for $9.99 also helps, as this is cheaper than other publisher’s volumes.) Aoi’s nue form deserves a special mention for its beauty. While the animal ears are often found in manga, the beautiful peacock feathers are a visual treat. Even Shouoto’s other characters actually look like individuals this time around instead of copies from previous works. Momochi House and the worlds inside are just plain well-done. The water world in particular stood out to me with the fish and the spirit’s clamshell hideout. Even the layout shows improvement, as readers can easily follow the action. The fact that spirit techniques are not named means Shouoto doesn’t have to waste space on dialogue boxes whenever an ability is used. The author also knows her audience well and gives plenty of space for readers to admire naked Aoi or his affectionate embraces. The only issue is that it can be hard to identify the lesser yokai. Sometimes I’m not sure if some are regular fixtures of Momochi House or just something she drew to fill in certain scenes. This is especially true when they are in smoke-like forms. Really, though, this is quite lovely.
The adaptation does keep a lot of Japanese words, which is nice in a heavily Japanese-influenced manga like this. Terms like “Omamori-sama” and “ayakashi” are explained directly in the story so translator’s notes are unnecessary. For others, the word is defined with a footnote. Others like “kumonyudo” or “tanuki” are either just ignored or assumed to be known by readers. No honorifics are used outside of “Omamori-sama”.
That being said, let’s move on to the dialogue. The opening line is literally something like, “You mustn’t…look at my form.” The official translation is, “You mustn’t…look at me.” While the Japanese version may seem odd, it actually fits the story. To me, it’s the difference between “don’t look at me” and “don’t look at me when I’m like this”. Later, Aoi mentions he’s going to seal the monster, but the Viz Media adaptation skips this in favor of Aoi saying, “You will not get off so easily.” It’s a lot of little things like that. Aoi is sometimes “Nue” (as in a name) and sometimes “the Nue” (as in a type), but I’m assuming this is because of readings in the original Japanese.
Ise also introduces himself as a “shoujou”, which the text explains is an orangutan. While the word does mean an orangutan, in this case, he’s actually a spirit. Wikipedia explains this better. The point is that he’s also a supernatural creature and not just someone who transforms into an animal. His form is revealed in a later volume, but I really want to emphasize he is more than just something you’d find in a local zoo. As for Yukari, he says he’s an amizuchi, but later in the first volume his species is correctly named mizuchi. Both “shoujou”/”orangutan” and “mizuchi”/”water serpent” are interchangeably used over the course of the series.
Personally, I think it would have been nice to go the extra mile and just put all kinds of notes at the end.
The Demon Prince of Momochi House is still ongoing, so I don’t know if it will end up Shouoto’s best, but I don’t plan on dropping the series anytime soon. Try it out if you are sick of pricks in manga.
A picture drama for The Demon Prince of Momochi House is available online here. Three drama cds have also been made. Fun fact: Aoi’s seiyuu, KENN, cosplayed as Aoi for Asuka, imitating the cover of the manga’s first volume.
Viz Media has released Shouoto’s Kiss of the Rose Princess while Yen Press is publishing He’s My Only Vampire.