Recently Weekly Shonen Jump has debuted six new series, an unprecedented occasion that includes a couple of important milestones in the magazine’s history. I’m going to be writing a post on the debuting series that week, be it a simple review or something deeper. We continue with Hitsuji Gondaira’s Demon Prince Poro’s Diaries. SPOILERS FOLLOW.
Demon Prince Poro’s Diaries is a hard series to review. We’ve now had all three of the ‘Jump Start’ chapters come out, and it’s a perfectly charming and visually pleasing comic book, even if it seems a little confused about what it wants to be at times (something I’m fairly sure will be its downfall). But its qualities aren’t particularly interesting to write about, in stark contrast to the thing that *is* interesting about it, in Shonen Jump terms at least: That this is yet another series about a demon coming to earth!
It’s a weird recurrence in Jump, as far as plot points go. We’ve had Takuan & Batsu’s Daily Demon Diary (which I’ve only just realised has a startlingly similar title), Devily Man, Love’s Cupid Yakenohara Jin, Beelzebub, Taizo Mote King Saga, Demon Detective Nogami Neuro, even Death Note after a fashion, and that’s just a handful of series from the 21st century! I didn’t even have to look any of those up! What is it about demons coming to earth that appeals so much to Jump’s creators?
Sometimes it can be the absurdity of our world as seen through the lens of a character from an actually absurd demonic realm. Devily Man is a strong example of this, as the weak-willed Madogiwa is exposed to the darkness of humanity through the terrifying young boy he lends his powers to, and I think both Neuro and Death Note juxtapose the evil inherent in Neuro and Ryuk against the evils that men do throughout their respective series. Ryuk ultimately does less evil actions throughout the entire series than any human who takes possession of his notebook, and Neuro’s greatest struggles are against humans whose power and corruption far outweighs his own abilities. Devily Man completely failed to sell readers on its take on this sort of plot, but the worth of it is still visible in series that had as notable an amount of success as the other two.
When proper comedy gets involved it becomes a bit of a stranger in a strange land situation, emphasis on the *strange*. Taizo Mote King Saga is about a rice ball-headed demon looking for a girl with star-shaped nipples, summoning demons and humans alike with his anus, and yet the non-demonic characters in the series are still capable of a madness that almost rivals his, usually in referential comedy to everything from Neuro to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Beelzebub’s eponymous baby might be too young to really have a lot of say, but he’s still a small naked demon pikachu accompanied by a large naked man who splits in half to teleport people and a maid in gothic lolita dress who is not averse to murder. Yet the bizarreness of these demons is often secondary to the inhuman strength of main character Oga, the sick-minded desires of deuteragonist Furuichi, or the unreal physical comedy the Tohoshinki are capable of. If anything the humans in Beelzebub bring out the weirder aspects of the demons.
Demon Prince Poro’s Diaries opts for the latter here, and does so in a very recognisable way. Poro is the most powerful demon in the realm, but doesn’t want to be a part of the violent world he exists in, instead fetishing the clearly superior world of earth. Japan to be specific, which is definitely something to talk about in a future article, as the way it mirrors the cultural fetishism committed by western fans of manga is *uncanny*. Taking his chance to go to Japan, attend school, and learn first-hand the lessons he needs to bring back to the demon world to reform all those beneath him, Poro instead pretty much instantly outs himself as a demon, befriends a monstrously violent but good-hearted thug, has to deal with demons coming up to battle him, and punches a hole in reality. As you do. It’s goofy, and the first three chapters deliver on these apparent appealing creative aspects to a demon-on-earth storyline, though coming off the back of a good few series doing similar work does make me worry for its future. Does it have what it takes to survive where Devily Man and Takuan & Batsu so recently failed?
To be honest I’m not sure. Early reception is unclear, and being part of this massive wave of new series gives it fierce competition, but if the past examples used here for this vague article are any indication then it’s working in a genre with more success than failures, *just* about. Four of the seven titles named are at least memorably successful, though they all come from an earlier time, and these trends are hard to predict. We can only hope.
Demon Prince Poro’s Diaries was available in English from Weekly Shonen Jump, produced by Viz Media, and available on IOS and Android, as well as their own website. The first three chapters are now available for free on Viz’s website, which almost softens the blow of taking a month off of writing on this site, right? RIGHT?!