- Mangaka : Arakawa Hiromu
- Publisher : Square Enix
- Genre : Action, Drama, Fantasy, Shounen, Supernatural, Tragedy
- Published : April 2023
Some mangaka really only have one ‘great’ series in them—a brilliant idea perfectly executed at the right time, never quite able to be recaptured. And then, there are mangaka like Arakawa Hiromu, whose breakthrough series Fullmetal Alchemist is the soundtrack for a generation, and whose work on Arslan Senki (The Heroic Legend of Arslan)’s manga receives far less credit than it deserves.
With Yomi no Tsugai (Daemons of the Shadow Realm), Arakawa explodes out of the gate with a supernatural thriller that proves she’s lost none of her brilliant character design or world building talents.
If you haven’t been spoiled on Yomi no Tsugai (Daemons of the Shadow Realm)’s major twist (essentially, the first chapter of the series), and you don’t want to be spoiled, then look away now! We can confidently tell you this series is shaping up to be a modern masterpiece and you should have no doubts about buying it.
We can’t discuss much else about the first volume without spoiling the central premise, so if you’re okay with that, join us today on Honey’s Anime as we review Yomi no Tsugai (Daemons of the Shadow Realm), Volume 1!
Set in what would appear to be rustic days of yore, teenager Yuru lives as a hunter in a remote village high on a mountain, a village said to be protected by the “Divine Statues of Left and Right.” His twin sister, Asa, serves a sacred duty from inside a cage, concerned that Yuru will eventually follow the other adults out of the village—from which none ever return.
Barely twenty pages in, Arakawa drops her first bombshell in the form of attack helicopters descending on the village, with armed commandos and supernatural soldiers massacring the villagers and killing the caged Asa. With help from a close ally, Yuru awakens to his true calling—master of Daemons of Left and Right, released from the village’s Divine Statues. With the help of these powerful Daemons, Yuru escapes the mountain with his life—and learns that the ‘Asa’ in the cage was a fake; his real sister is apparently the leader of these commandos, and left the village for the real world some time ago.
With this reverse-isekai-style setup, Yuru is joined by Hana and Dera, two ‘retainers’ who are charged with keeping him safe. Thrown into a modern world that’s bewildering to him, Yuru plans to track down Asa and his missing birth parents; but outside the safety of his village’s barrier, there are plenty of Daemon-wielders who can also use their own paired daemons. Yuru and the Daemons of Left and Right will have quite a challenge ahead of them!
1. Perfected World-Building
Arakawa shows off her prowess in style with Daemons of the Shadow Realm, and knows precisely when to deliver an exposition dump or when to let the reader figure things out for themselves. With a whole new magic system to introduce to the reader, having a naive newbie like Yuru lets the reader learn alongside the main character, while also getting plenty of laughs out of his (and his Daemons’) reactions to modern conveniences like tatami mats or running water.
The idea of ‘paired’ daemons (the ‘tsugai’ in the Japanese title quite literally meaning a ‘pair’ of mated beings) provides some interesting combinations—such as a giant floating mouth that’s a pair of ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ teeth; but also daemon pairs where one can ‘swallow’ and the other can ‘regurgitate’ objects. With the series indicating that Yuru and Asa have opposite-but-related powers, we can’t wait to see them work together—or be forced to clash!
2. Familiar Arakawa Humor
As we mentioned earlier, Arakawa’s charming blend of humor and dark action is more refined than ever. Although it does feel a little like she’s relying on the familiar stock of funny man/straight man characters, that doesn’t make the humor any less enjoyable. It’s also much-needed, since Daemons of the Shadow Realm—much like Fullmetal Alchemist—is dealing with some pretty dark themes.
The heaviness of Yuru losing his village and taking up the mantle of his newfound Daemons is offset by the hilarious antics of Hana and Dera as they decide to masquerade as a married couple to shelter Yuru in modern society. Much like the powers that balance each other in the story, the humor-and-tragedy balance themselves out too!
Yomi no Tsugai (Daemons of the Shadow Realm) was unexpectedly thrilling—a flawless delivery from a seasoned mangaka who excels in world-building and character design. We’ll be absolutely shocked if this series isn’t picked up for anime adaptation within the next few months—so if you want to remain ahead of the curve, go and grab the first volume right away!
What did you think of Yomi no Tsugai (Daemons of the Shadow Realm), Vol 1? Leave a comment below, and as always, thanks for reading!