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!
Demon Prince of Momochi House Volume 1
By Aya Shouoto
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen
I was really looking forward to reading the first volume of Demon Prince of Momochi House, and was lucky enough to get a friend to pick it up for me as SDCC (along with one of Viz’s con bags). I read it the same night it arrived, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I was let down by the stale characters and a story that didn’t seem to go anywhere.
The story starts by introducing Himari Momochi, an orphan who has suddenly inherited a house seemingly out in the middle of nowhere. Himari is the spunky sort, as shojo protagonists with her background usually are. She ignores a warning that the house is haunted, and digs her heels in when Aoi, and his shinigami, Ise and Yukari, tell her to leave. She isn’t even fazed when she learns the house is full of ayakashi, low-level spirits and monsters. She seems like a capable if inexperienced character. But when Aoi tells her she doesn’t belong, and that he and the ayakashi are like one big family, she’s quick to turn tail and run. This really bugged me. She’s been there maybe a night or two and hasn’t even tried to become one “part of their group” before she’s running off wistfully. This whole scene felt contrived.
And in a way it was, since it opens up Himari to attack by a dark ayakashi and allows Aoi the chance to use his powers to save her, and shows off his Nue form. I wasn’t sure how to feel about Aoi. He is rather awkward around Himari. He doesn’t tell Himari she should leave because there are ayakashi who want to eat her, an argument one would think would be more compelling that just saying “you don’t belong.” But considering Aoi spent several years growing up around just ayakashi, his social awkwardness is understandable. He seems obsessed with Himari not seeing him in his Nue form. He constantly tells her not to look at him when he transforms, considers himself a monster, and doesn’t want Himari to possibly face the same fate someday. Of course, Himari can’t look away from his Nue form. She finds him too beautiful.
The story doesn’t seem to take much of a direction in this first volume. It is mostly about setting the characters up and establishing Himari and Aoi’s relationship. Aoi’s powers are shown more and Himari is even shown to have some minor power. But the focus so far seems to be on how obsessed the pair are with each other. Aoi works tirelessly to put up barriers to protect Himari while Himari gets herself into more trouble trying to help. It feels more like a slice of life with Himari constantly needing saving, which is a real waste of Himari, and not what I want to see in my romances, supernatural or otherwise.
It’s the ayakashi that kept this volume from being mediocre. They only appeared as side characters for the most part, but they were most fun to me. Their snide comments to Himari and silly faces made me smile more than must of the other attempts at comedy in the volume. Himari using her power for the first time on them was very amusing. The Kanedama which was featured in the second chapter was really cute, and his ability, bringing prosperity to the house had a great twist.
Shouoto’s art is well done. Aoi, Ise and Yukari are all the perfect bishonen while Himari is no slouch either. I did like how the art took on a sketchy, pencil feel, especially for Aoi, giving him a sort of ethereal look. The ayakashi look great, whether they are supposed to be cute or creepy.
Overall, I did like Demon Prince of Momochi House Volume 1, but I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped. I don’t feel any real connection to the main characters, and liked the side ayakashi more. I did like the growing feelings between Aoi and Himari, but it felt like there should be more going on. I’ll give this series another volume. I am interested enough to see more of the characters, and if the series gets an actual direction.