Yui Kamio Lets Loose 001-008 – Manga Review
Synopsis: There’s a new girl in town and she’s a devil! Or a saint. Or both? The creator of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, delivers a comedy that isn’t afraid to let loose! (Official Shonen Jump Synopsis.)
Warning: Spoilers to Follow:
Yui Kamio isn’t a particularly amazing series thus far. It’s a good time, a fun read, but lacks the pull to really grab you and get you invested for the long haul. The series focuses not so much on Yui Kamio, our title character, but rather a spoiled rich kid, Kiito, who happens to come into contact with Yui by pure accident. Yui, our titular character, has a supernaturally fueled rebellious personality, at least when she’s free. Taking note of her penchant for violence even as a child, Yui’s parents hired a monk to bind her delinquent side, turning Yui into a prim and proper girl, as long as a Monk’s blessed chain binds her hair. What ensues is a weekly foray into Kiito’s efforts to keep Yui’s darker half bound and all the comedy and shenanigans that come along with that.
So far the series hasn’t offered much else. There’s no introduction of a grander element, or increasingly powerful bad guys. There’s nothing to indicate this series plans to expand its lore, or turn its attention towards spectacular action. (Although the art offered is pretty solid, as expected from the author of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan) But for what the series currently is, Yui Kamio works. As I said before it’s no prize pig, but what’s offered hits all the right notes.
There’s a decent mix of comedy, romance and action across these first eight chapters. At first most of the comedy revolves around Kiito’s attraction to the prim and proper Yui, followed by his horror at Yui’s darker nature. The introductary chapter works quite well, hitting all the right beats as we’re introduced to rich boy Kiito, his budding attraction to Yui, and the reveal that her dark-haired version is a threat to be reckoned with. What follows after this promising first chapter is pretty bog standard stuff however.
In fact, anyone familiar with other supernatural-light, romcom manga might notice how similar this feels in practice to say, Midori Days. Midori Days was a 2002-2004 series focused on a rough and tough delinquent who ends up with a miniature girl attached to where his punching hand should be. Much of the manga focuses on said delinquent struggling to go about his day to day without his troubling circumstance being found out. This all happens while casual romance gradually brings the two (delinquent and girl on hand) together. Yui Kamio follows much the same pattern.
Most chapters are squarely focused on how Kiito’s life is impacted by Yui’s antics, and entirely derailed in his efforts to get her back under control. The few times the series’ veers from this, we don’t stray too far. Perhaps enemy students seek to rob Yui of the chain that binds her hair, still unaware the power that’s keeping in check. The one time the series truly moves away from its concept is when Yui and her steward, Nao, a young girl who worships the ground Yui walks on, visit Kiito’s home and instead it’s Kiito’s secret that must be guarded from their prying eyes. Even that, however, is just an inversion of the series’ premise. (The reveal to what Kiito’s hiding though is actually pretty strong and really hammers home his character’s flaws.)
All in all Yui Kamio Lets Loose is a fun read, and shifts away from Shonen Jump’s current mainstay line up and their more typical offerings, but it hardly embodies originality. The series will need to start stretching the realm of imagination in order to come up with plots that we truly haven’t seen before, or double down on either the comedy or romance to create something that doesn’t feel quite so middle of the road. There’s a good chuckle to be had here, some titillation that panders to the male gaze there, but nothing that screams the series as a must read. (in fact the forced titillation in one chapter is maybe more a negative than a plus.) I’m rooting for Yui Kamio though, in part because stories like this feel sparse in today’s Shonen landscape, but also because I think there’s real potential to do some new stuff with this title. It could remain what it is with just a bit more cleverness to the writing, or it could veer wildly into a totally different direction. Trouble is, will Hiroshi Shiibashi, even with his Nura fame, get enough chapters to find his footing with this new work?
That’s it for today. Please let me know your thoughts on The Last Saiyuki in the comments below!
Yui Kamio Lets Loose is published as part of Shonen Jump.