Manga-ka: Hinako Takanaga
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: May 2008
“Father Mauro lived a peaceful life in a small town ministering to his community. That is, until he found a wounded demon (?) in the bushes of the church garden. While Raoul looks like a demon, complete with horns and a tail, he doesn’t act like the typical demon. Playful? Yes! Mischievous? Yes! Outright evil? Well… that depends on the definition. Does seducing men of the cloth count as evil – especially if they like it?”
Father Mauro is a kind-hearted priest living in a quaint little town. One day he finds an injured man named Raoul in the garden of his church, and despite the suspicious horns and tail the stranger has, Father Mauro takes him in to nurse back to health. Back on his feet in no time, Raoul is a very friendly individual who has no idea about whether or not he’s a demon. But, what he does know, and makes no secret of, is how much he likes the priest who saved him.
Ah, The Devil’s Secret: a combination of one of my personal little enjoyments of religious figures paired with demons and one of my all-time favourite manga-ka, Hinako Takanaga. Of course when I heard 801media had licensed this combination of awesome, I was thrilled and so just as happy to finally have the book in my hand.
Father Mauro is obviously pre-occupied with thoughts about who, and what, Raoul really is. While it’s evident that Raoul has strong physical feelings for the priest, the sin of being in the presence of a demon (among doing other things) weighs heavily on Mauro’s mind. When Raoul’s brother shows up to bring the long-lost sibling home, Father Mauro has to figure out if he really wants his new ‘friend’ to leave and if he can handle being the church’s only lonely inhabitant again. As a reader warning, the story contains an initially non-consensual scene.
While Raoul and Father Mauro’s relationship is steamy and entertaining, a bonus chapter at the end of the book is just as entertaining when the focus shifts with a look at the demon world. Raoul’s brother, Buldur, is not only having trouble with getting his little brother home, but also with a persistent other demon who wishes to bind with Buldur forever. They’re a really amusing pair and I wish there could be more time to explore them, along with the demon world in general and Raoul and Father Mauro’s relationship too. Alas that this is a mere one-shot!
The title story takes up about one half of this book’s total page count. Filling in the rest of the space are a couple unrelated short stories. Both star schoolboys ‘coming out’ with their affections and both stories are really nice in their own way: the first ends up being pretty cute and entertaining past a bumpy start while the second is more sweet and charming. Like Mauro and Raoul’s story, the first short story involves some non-consensual scenes.
Hinako Takanaga’s artwork is wonderful here, putting together a cast of loveably adorable ukes and sexy, masculine semes. Her line style is solid and clean but maintains a charming, sketch-like appearance. Everyone is enjoyably expressive, whether chipperly-cute or depressingly-contemplative, and the panels are well laid out so the stories flow along nicely.
I also have no qualms with 801Media who’ve delivered another quality release. The writing was smooth, the art well edited and the cover slip was attractive and nicely put together. Also included at the back is the usual 4koma comic staring 801-chan and her partner-in-crime, Tomo-chan, who find a little boys’ love in everything.
Overall, The Devil’s Secret is a really fun, morally kinky and entertainingly charming tale of boys’ love. Hinako Takanaga’s story telling and artwork is always a treat and I hope others enjoy this supernatural tale and bonus chapters as much as I did.