Manga-ka: Rie Takada
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: Teen (13+)
Release Date: November 2008
Synopsis: “Demons like Rara are supposed to cause mischief in the mortal world and draw humans to darkness. They’re not supposed to help mortals and they’re definitely not supposed to fall in love with them! But that’s just what happens when Rara enters high school, where a hot guy named Retsu Aku calls her “Gaba Kawa“! While demons gain power by causing mischief, the opposite is also true – if Rara uses any of her powers to help mortals, she’ll immediately lose that very power. If she loses enough power, she’ll disappear!”
Rara is a young demoness let lose in the human world. Her mission? To spread mischief and chaos for humans everywhere! Thus, she’s enrolled in high school. After a botched attempt to find her demonic idol, Rara meets Aku Retsu – a mysterious young man in her school. One suedo-suicide save later and Rara quickly takes to stalking Retsu with her powers of invisibility, unaware that Retsu can actually see spirits and thus has been able to at least sense her all this time. But before that oh so shocking reveal, it was still fun watching her spaz around and act like a complete love-sick ninny as she tried to get closer to him while simultaneously losing her demonic powers in doing so.
It was disappointing never getting to see Rara do anything demony at all though. We didn’t even get to see her plot anything evil to do, past her thinking she should think of something evil to do. I can see the reasoning to not want to make her a bad guy by having her actually commit evil acts but even a few acts of mischief would’ve gone a long way in better setting up how out of sorts it is for her to be nice to Retsu. Even Bibi, who I can assume was there to offer that contrast, never really felt that evil herself. Though seriously, if demons are supposed to be evil and do bad things to humans, why the heck would they enroll in high school in the first place?
Rara’s crazy personality was still something to behold. She successfully managed to be entertaining and annoying at the same time for almost the entire duration of the book. How Retsu was able to move past seeing her as an irritating little stalker with spastic tendencies and as a young woman he could love forever is beyond me but I suppose that falls into the same logic as demons in high school. To Retsu’s credit he was a fairly decent character for all his personality’s lacking relevance. He bugged me considerably less than many ‘I’m-so-perfect-but-have-this-one-angsty-flaw’ characters who litter shoujo series. Honestly I think it’s just because I liked his sunglasses, but hey, take what you can get right? His best friend was also pretty amusing and I was sad seeing him swept aside the moment he was no longer relevant to prove Retsu was capable of being social.
The likeable quirks of Gaba Kawa had all but worn themselves out by the end of the story however. By then Rara and Retsu have shared their mutual feelings for one another and suddenly everything’s out the window. Rara is now a blushing, self-sacrificing girlfriend and Retsu has devolved to being merely a gazing-eyed boyfriend out for romance. While sweet on its own, this mushy semi-result feels cheap and rushed at the end of such a short story when the personalities, Rara’s in particular, were so strong originally. Another unfortunate case of love-conquers-all-personality. But, a small ray of light and a spoiler alert, as a confrontation with Bibi gives at least a little dramatic spark to the story’s climax as Rara fades away into nothingness…
… or does she? In an ending that can only be explained by the creator not wanting to leave things on a sad note, instead ops for the soap-opera cliche. Rara wakes up from a coma in her human body! Or someone’s human body anyway. It’s not entirely clear if this was her originally or if her ‘spirit’ simply moved into this human girl’s body after she went comatose. Either way, Rara is ‘born again’ and Retsu senses her out immediately and stays by her side until she wakes up. Thus they can now begin a new romance! Or something.
While it’s so easy to go on about how silly this one-shot was, it still only really adds to how entertaining it is. It’s not the kind of book I’d ever say needs to be on every manga reader’s shelf but it’s certainly something any fan of comedic shoujos should seek out to read from their local library or borrowing from a friend at least once. Gaba Kawa doesn’t manage to live up to many of its own potentials but for a fairly tidy one-shot it still manages to be more fun than fail, even if only just.