There are a few mangaka that I will always pick up new works from. Kaoru Mori (A Bride’s Story), Nagabe (The Girl from the Otherside), and now Kamome Shirahama. Shirahama is also the creator of Witch Hat Atelier, another awesome manga that I’m thoroughly addicted to. It’s still ongoing, so I was surprised to hear about another series from her coming out, though I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised given the success of Witch Hat Atelier that any other series Shirahama worked on would be picked up right away. I’ve had this new one on my to-read list for a while since I saw the announcement and was prepared to buy a copy for myself. Yen Press surprised me by getting in touch to see if I would be willing to review this one in exchange for a free copy, so of course I had to say yes. Witch Hat Atelier is a must-read series in my book, and Eniale & Dewiela, while a deviation from the more serious nature of her last series, takes a crazy spin on religion and its relationship with or interaction with humanity. I think Shirahama did a great job with this first volume and I can’t wait to see what shenanigans these crazy otherworldly women get into next.
Eniale & Dewiela follows the antics of an angel from Heaven, Eniale, and a devil from Hell, Dewiela, who have formed an unlikely friendship regardless of their differing moral perspectives. They’re love of fashion, cosmetics, and all things fancy made by humans draws them to the mortal world time and time again where they wind up stirring up a bunch of trouble every time. Their antics range from trying to locate the mother of a lost baby by summoning a giant poodle to earth, going on a shopping spree that causes them to run into a demon hunter, to helping a girl save her mother’s life by releasing thousands of souls into heaven. This first volume contains four chapters full of wild antics that will for sure pull at least a chuckle out of you.
I absolutely love Shirahama’s art style. It is so detailed and fits very well with depictions of magic, angels, and everything fantastical. It reminds me a bit of an art nouveau style, similar a bit to The Magic Fish, a graphic novel I reviewed a few weeks ago. In that graphic novel, the art nouveau style was used to enhance the look and feel of the fairy tales being wrapped into the story. Here, we see Shirahama use her unique style to enhance the fantastical and holy feeling of the angels and demons being depicted. It’s especially evident in the chapter opener pages and full page splash art pages where Shirahama really goes to town and shows off her ability to create awesome character designs.
My only issue with this art is that I’m not sure if her highly detailed way of drawing goes well with a comedy manga. I loved reading her previous series Witch Hat Atelier because of the detail in it and how it enhanced all the fantastical aspects of the story. With Eniale & Dewiela, I’m worried that the amount of detail she usually uses overshadows the comedy and becomes distracting. However, there is the flip-side of this that the contrast between the detail and the content of the story creates the comedy, as I previously discussed in my reviews of Way of the House Husband. We see many panels of Eniale, for example, trying on clothes and looking fancy and then we turn the page and she does something silly or crazy. In a way, maybe the comedy comes from seeing a classical-esque depiction of an angel acting like a teenager when it comes to everything she can buy and enjoy on earth.
Thinking about it more, I think that is probably one of the main concepts in this series: that contrast between our conception of what an angel and demon should be like and what Eniale and Dewiela actually act like. Eniale is an angel from heaven. You might expect her to be at least polite to demons, but probably not friends with one. I highly doubt you’d expect an angel to be obsessed with cosmetics or fashion, but we see Eniale fight with Dewiela over using the last of her make-up, and we see her going on a shopping spree on Earth. I think normally you’d expect these things more from a demon like Dewiela since they seem more like vices than anything. But they are tempered by her genuinely giving personality, even if her actions can be a little misguided.
That’s the other aspect of this series that becomes the story’s main draw: how Eniale and Dewiela’s good intentions tend to backfire and create more problems leading to the main comedy of the series. Trying to find the mother of a lost baby leads to panic among the people of Earth as Eniale takes over the air waves to get everyone’s attention and Dewiela calls in her giant, skyscraper-tall poodle. The people of Earth begin to think this is the beginning of an apocalypse and panic ensues. Small problems become big issues as Eniale and Dewiela don’t quite understand how their power affects humans on Earth. Their disagreement over who used the last of Eniale’s make-up turns into a full-on fight that leaves a crater in the ground.
I came to enjoy the characters that Shirahama created, and I think you will too. It’s definitely different from her other series, but not completely. The art style, the fantasy, and her ability to craft an interesting story is all still there. I’ll be giving the second volume a try as soon as it comes out, and I hope you all will take a look at this series too. Let me know what you thought in the comments below if you have read it, or let me know if I’ve convinced you to pick this one up.
~~Thanks for Reading!~~
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