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
16 Volumes (complete)
Himari, an orphan, has suddenly inherited a house While she ignores the stories about it being haunted and cursed, she can’t ignore the three guys crashing there! Himari isn’t going to let squatters push her out of her home, but perhaps there is some truth to the rumors…
The Demon Prince of Momochi House has beautiful art, but the story can’t always match up to the level of visuals.
We’ve all dreamed of winning the lottery. Well, for her 16th birthday, Himari didn’t win a bucket full of money but she has suddenly been given a large, old mansion called Momochi House. She’s excited to have some connection to the family she’s never known, and she’s not going to listen to some gossip about curses. Arriving at her new home, the only curse she discovers is a bunch of squatters! (Well, that and no electronics, which my tech-lovin’ self would find to be a curse.) Himari tries to kick them out, but the handsome guys are rather disinterested in her demands. In fact, they suggest she leave!
Then she learns why: Momochi House is positioned on the border between two worlds, and lost and wandering ayakashi spirits take up residence in this beautiful estate. Aoi, the boy around her age, has been given the position to guard the house as Nue, a beautiful hybrid spirit. The other two are his shikigami, Yukari and Ise, who assist and serve him in watching over the boundary and the state of Momochi House. While they nor Himari know who sent the will, what Aoi does know is that the Momochi blood makes her a prime target for ayakashi. But Himari refuses to leave despite the danger, and soon her attention drifts to Aoi and the burdens he’s carrying being Nue.
The Demon Prince of Momochi House can be rightfully compared to Kamisama Kiss in a number of ways, and if you like that series in general, you’ll probably also like this one. Like that one, this manga initially starts off as more as a series featuring short arcs (sometimes one chapter, sometimes a couple) about various supernatural encounters and different ayakashi. Of course, the mysteries of Momochi House, Aoi/Nue, and even Himari’s will are all in readers’ mind, but this section is more fun and lighthearted. Whether it’s Himari’s occult-loving classmate actually being the coward of the group or Aoi causing a phone to explode, the series is a mysterious but fun adventure even though a lot of the humor (Himari insisting she’s the landlady in particular) goes over like a lead balloon. The manga’s early chapters are much more effective when they’re meant to make you smile in warmth rather than trying to appeal to your funny bone.
The Demon Prince of Momochi House dips it toes into more serious subjects early on, like one of Himari’s first school friends actually being deceased. These more somber storylines become the norm as Himari’s feelings for Aoi become deeper — especially when she learns that Aoi is bound to the Momochi House property and can’t leave. While Himari wants to learn more about her family and Momochi House itself, finding a way to let him fully live his life becomes her primary goal. Again, it’s similar to Kamisama Kiss in how the manga’s atmosphere becomes much more melancholic.
You can’t really blame her for wanting to help Aoi. His mental maturity is a bit low due to his lack of human interaction, and this leads to some childish behavior like sneaking into Himari’s room or even just calling her by her name when they first meet. He’s forward, but not in a “let me take your clothes off” kind of way. Still, his affectionate behavior makes Himari panic and blush. That bothers her of course, but what really bothers her is when Aoi hides things because he thinks it’s better for her. He may not know everything about the place he’s guarding, but he knows more than he wants to admit. Still, he’s not malicious about this, and sometimes… he’s right, Himari should have left well enough alone. Her bloodline agitates spirits, and even though she is given tools to hide her human identity, her identity is usually revealed. It’s only thanks to Aoi or plot armor from being the protagonist that things always work out okay.
As Momochi House’s guardian — Omamori-sama, to be specific — Aoi has a number of responsibilities, and Nue is a high-ranking ayakashi that others often turn to. His Nue side tends to be more aloof, but his dedication to Himari remains. Plus Nue throws in some heavy sensualness and suggestiveness that flusters Himari even more. The more serious tone I think enhances his appeal, especially since his signature phrase is all about Aoi not wanting Himari to look at him when he’s Nue.
As you might have guessed, as the series goes on, there’s the question of where Aoi ends and Nue begins. Aoi can use some spells, but turning into Nue grants him more powers. His shikigami can assist, but Himari, somewhat surprisingly, gains very few abilities during the story. I guess the author wanted to keep a line between Aoi and Himari, and Himari’s human viewpoint and positivity does help Aoi and the others out of some jams. She’ll often say it’s her duty as the landlady.
Anyway, the Aoi/Nue issue begins to be primary source of conflict in the story, especially as the mysterious Kasha keeps appearing to cause trouble. He’s not always the antagonist, but he’s never too far away from the story. Himari’s school life sometimes intersects with her home life, and the shikigami (which increase in number from the original Yukari/Ise duo) get their own arcs. As the realization of the cost for Aoi to be Nue rises, so does his and Himari’s anxiety as they try to protect and help each other. That wouldn’t be a problem, since he is the titular character, and female readers can’t help but be drawn to his dualism.
There are a couple of explanations for this. One, the series went on hiatus during its serialization. Two, its Japanese influences become stronger. Originally, you don’t really need to know much about traditional Japanese spiritual beliefs other than there are many types. But then we get details and storylines about ways to write names, ancestral bonds, and the various realms. No, you won’t ruin your enjoyment of The Demon Prince of Momochi House if you don’t know these things. However, it’s like each one is another slightly rusted cog in the chain, and when combined with how soon each volume seems to wrap up, it affected my enjoyment. And finally, Shouoto’s art is gorgeous, and she tends to favor large panels and minimal speech bubbles to show it off. So the volumes can feel like half their actual length.
While the series is a supernatural manga, and even moreso a romance, perhaps the main idea is the concept of family. Himari has never known hers, Aoi was separated from his, and the shikigami have their own issues. This ragtag mix group (along with some mascot-like characters) ends up finding a place at Momochi House. When you think of it that way, lonely souls finding each other, it’s a moving story. Plus, while Himari can be stubborn in the early volumes with her insistence she’s the landlady or always caring about everyone in the usual shoujo protagonist away, you can’t help but root for her to help Aoi. And for Aoi, who regularly shows his affection, Himari represents everything he’s worked so hard for over the years and a lifeline to the past he’s been abandoning.
The shikigami sometimes are torn between how much of Himari’s influence is okay for both her and for Momochi House. It’s not that they dislike her or anything, but they know Momochi House can be dangerous, and that danger can target both Himari and Aoi. Yukari is calm, logical, and a bit effeminate; he’s also in charge of most of the day-to-day running of the house and tries to teach Aoi what’s appropriate in regards to interacting with Himari. Ise is the hot-blooded, short tempered one; think the yankee/delinquent type.
While the three of them (plus other key characters) means that most of the main and supporting cast is male, this is not a reverse harem in the traditional sense. No one else ever seriously pursues the two leads romantically; most of other characters’ interest is in Aoi/Nue’s and Himari’s power and background, not them personally. So if you tend to dislike love triangles, The Demon Prince of Momochi House may need to be on your radar just because of that.
As I mentioned, the visuals are stellar. Each volume is given a color insert for readers to admire, which will capture readers’ attention even more. But 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. If you’ve read some of Shouoto’s other works, you may have noticed that some of her characters look very similar. Well, the characters feel more unique this time around, especially without a moody vampire. Momochi House and the worlds inside are just plain well-done, all showcasing different natural beauty and/or Japanese influences. Rivers, mansions, it doesn’t matter; they all look like places you want to visit. 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 a barechested Aoi or his affectionate embraces. The only issue is that it can be hard to identify the lesser yokai. It took a long time to identify the regulars versus ones drawn to pack a scene. Really, though, this is quite lovely…
… Except for the last volume. I think Shouoto was trying to go for an ephemeral feeling, but there are a lot simple sketches that make volume 16 look rushed and unfinished compared the detailed rest of the series. I reminded me of the end of Yu Yu Hakusho, and if you’ve ever read the final manga volumes, you’ll know that’s not a compliment. That simplicity doesn’t last for the entire volume, but it came as a shock to me and felt out-of-place. Well, even the ending left me with a lot of questions so it fits, I guess. Readers will get the resolution for the biggest plots, but the explanations for how and why are lacking.
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‘s greatest strength is its titular character, a male lead who may not be perfect but truly cares about the heroine. Unfortunately, his emotional conflict contributes to a confusing narrative.
Viz Media has released Shouoto’s Kiss of the Rose Princess while Yen Press published He’s My Only Vampire.