Story & Plot Impressions
This manga starts off rather calm and tame, the premise of a common person being visited by a “mysterious stranger” who reveals to them they are more than what they appear is not something completely uncommon in manga . However, what intrigues me about the way that Spell of Desire sets it up is by immediately revealing why he is there without building up any suspense whatsoever (Well, minimal suspense at best), it just outright tells you the reason Kaoruka was abandoned by her mother and left within her grandmother’s care. By not beating around the bush we are completely open to focusing upon the characters instead of wondering, “I wonder what is the story behind her?”, yet it simultaneous removes a useful storytelling device of revealing bits and pieces of information to reveal her true origin at some other point and time, rather we may see the manga further elaborate on her background in more volumes. Though, this also brings up another device which will either make you adore or loath this first volume.
This manga has the mark of “Shojo Beat”, and while all manga normally have some form of romance in one form or another, Shoujo style manga seems to make it their central theme (Which seems to be the opposite of what Shounen style manga is, which normally focuses upon battle manga). A lot of this book has to deal with keeping the power from spilling out of Kaoruka, in order to do that Kaname has to ensnare her heart and get her to focus upon a singular action, which is a kiss. A lot of this book focuses mainly upon her reactions to the fluttering of her heart and the sensations she feels when he is near or kisses her, a far cry from what I am typically use to but it was done in a remarkable way to keep you interested in their developing relationship, whatever that may be.
Knowing from the jump exactly what is going on in Spell of Desire is a plus, but at the very same time, it was something that could have easily been revealed in a way that makes you question who she is before finally announcing it. Not having an true antagonist reveal in the first volume is also ab it of a let down, but it also allows you to focus entirely on finding out the tendencies of both Kaoruka and Kaname. This manga in itself is a double-edged sword from what it offers you as good and bad plot devices, but it ultimately leaves you with a good feeling as you hit the last panel and that is the most important thing. I am mildly concerned on exactly how introducing an antagonist will play out due to the light-hearted nature taken in the first volume, but it also leaves for further emotional involvement on the reader’s behalf because we became so fixated on them as an item. Brilliance.
Character Impressions & Development
Despite what this manga sets out as its goal for plot advancement early into the first volume, we get to see significantly more in the way of character advancement of Kaoruka and Kaname. This is done in a way that attributes features to the main character based on her grandmother and mother, while also revealing a bit about the true nature of Kaname, despite him being a little more than an enigma when he first met Kaoruka.
Kaoruka is given something of a childish innocence, all the more reason that her involvement with Kaname seems so inciting. We basically get to see a shy little girl evolve into an entrancing woman before our very eyes, learning about love and all the physical attachments which goes into being a woman, it also helps that she is very feminine. She is a kind person and we can tell she is understanding and accepting, but it is also something very naughty and alluring about her given the nature of her internal powers and how she seems to be lusting after Kaname after sometime. Spicy.
Kaname is a character that fits a typical character persona; a mysterious cool guy who has sworn to protect our protagonist and whom the heroine swoons over (Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon, anyone?). Initially I felt like this character is not very interesting at all, he is simply a means to an end to present somewhat of a love interest for Kaoruka and to bring out her personality. Kaname just felt entirely too military in his stern loyalty towards Kaoruka’s mom, but he takes on a different side which came unexpected due to his look and demeanor. We can tell he has a heart of gold, but there is a hint of a mischievous playboy lurking within him and it shows in his teasing. Right now I feel like he does not have any major faults, the only thing we vaguely see about him is possibly them hinting at a broken past which may come into play later on.
No idea if the two of them will be swept up in the whirlwind that is sure to come due to the power inside of Kaoruka, and we do not know if Kaname is just merely doing his job or has authentic interest in pursuing a relationship with our heroine. The development of Kaoruka and Kaname as individual characters is only beginning and currently lacking for the first volume of a manga, but their chemistry together overshadows this small fault and enables the reader to be fully drawn into their interaction.
STRENGTHS – Excellent character interaction, Expressive character art, Enthralling dialogue.
WEAKNESSES – Little plot advancement, No antagonist introduction.
Spell of Desire Vol. 1 proved to be a good manga within its own right. Despite its ability to grab the reader’s attention, it is not much for plot advancement, but when two characters have such chemistry you do not really need it. This is a good starting point that could snowballs into an excellent manga, but we will need a deep plot to justify taking a whole book to begin building the basic foundation for the relationship between Kaoruka and Kaname (That or their relationship should play a central role in everything).
I think this would be a good buy for someone who was into the Shojo series and want something that makes you nervous for the main heroine. However, I have no idea where the manga is going at this point, and that could pose a problem for future volumes, but it does have a solid foundation and characters whom already proven that their interaction is good enough to catch your attention.