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MANGA: Rajou Koizukiyo

Rajou Koizukiyo – Saku Hiro

“Who is the strange onmyouji (exorcist), who’s interested in demons?” Kon, an onmyouji, who lives in Kyoto, was immediately drawn in by a strange ship and the “other” world that it came from, the moment he set eyes on it. When he is asked to repair the ship’s barrier, he meets a former male prostitute named Ibaraki, a beautiful four-horned demon. The ship is a red light district?!

An extraordinary Japanese-style fantasy BL woven by former male prostitute, Ibaraki-doji x demon otaku onmyouji.

Roughly translating to Night of Love in the Ancient City, this is an enemies-to-lovers paranormal romance between a powerful demon and a young exorcist.

The demon, Shiki, is, of course a HELLA GORGEOUS specimen of demonkind, fangy, with four horns. Coming from the Heian era, he wears fabulous flowy kimono that gives the art that extra oomph. He’s missing his right hand after a long-ago battle with his master against a group of samurai and exorcists. Formerly a sex worker, he’s currently working as a brothel bodyguard.

The exorcist, Kon, is an nth generation scion of the Higashimikado clan, whose history goes back to the Heian period. They were, in fact, one of those who went against the demons in that famous battle. However, Kon is surprisingly sympathetic to the demon side. He volunteered to work with the demon brothel since his specialty is barriers.

Kon, a self-declared “bad boy” because he prefers the company of demons, shows many acts of kindness toward the supernatural creatures. He’s especially kind towards Gara, a child demon that turns into a skeleton, which Shiki uses as a mode of transportation.

The plot is one of those “arrangements” conveniently set up to facilitate smexy times. Here, Shiki contracted Kon to help restore his right hand thru futon shenanigans. But this is not a raunchy manga. The story is based on folklore, Genji Monogatari, Rashomon, and other historical and literary references I’m not familiar with, making it feel grander and epic.

It is poignant and deeply nuanced with bittersweet undertones, but the full effect was lost on me. Aside from some unfamiliar cultural references, the storytelling didn’t flow smoothly. The narrative is frequently interrupted by flashbacks or glimpses of backstories that took me a while to connect to the main plot.

However, I still highly recommend it. This is a beautiful manga with a moving story and lovable characters you’ll root hard for. The Spirited Away setting is magical and surreal while also inviting and strangely familiar.

Lose yourself in this endlessly fascinating tale!

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