I have to say, the cover for the third volume of A Devil and Her Love Song is one of my favorite recent manga covers. It does a great job portraying the characters’ personalities as Maria is calmly holding her necklace while Shin looks all flustered by the attention of being on a manga cover, throwing up his hand as if he is fending off paparazzi. Like Dawn of the Arcana, A Devil and Her Love Song is one of those shoujo titles that keeps getting better with each subsequent volume. The first two volumes grabbed my attention with the novelty of Maria’s personality but there were still occasionally some awkward transitions and exposition that sometimes took me out of the story. Volume 3 dives into a common situation in shoujo manga, the mean nice girl, but it does it in a very entertaining way that is made more interesting by Maria’s reactions to her new “frenemy.”
Hana is a returning student who has been absent for Maria’s arrival due to illness. When she meets with her teacher she comments on Maria’s confiscated necklace and receives it as a gift. All the mean girls welcome Hana back, and when she’s introduced to Maria Hana manages to call attention to Maria’s facial expressions by immediately bowing and apologizing because she thinks Maria is mad at her. When Maria asks Yasuke about Hana, he comments “She’s a nice girl” but Maria notices that his expression looks forced. When Hana notices that the class is divided over the upcoming choral competition she exclaims “We should be doing this together!” Maria thinks that Hana is the exact opposite of her. Where Maria comes out and says exactly what she’s thinking, Hana gets her way with passive-aggressive niceness and faux apologies. Maria thinks that even though Hana says nice things, she feels uneasy. Hana’s true motivations come out when she sees how close Hana is to Yasuke, and Hana ends up making things even worse for Maria by playing the victim whenever she has an audience. Maria struggles to hold together her choral rehearsals and her new core group of friends continues to encourage her. It was nice to see that Shin had more of a role in this volume after the Yasuke-centric volume 2.
A Devil and Her Love Song is turning into a very entertaining soapy manga. There’s plenty of underhanded plots to be found with the teachers and students that target Maria, but the fact that her reactions are almost the exact opposite of what the reader would expect from a more typical shoujo heroine makes this manga seem fresh. All the Machiavellian plots are balanced out by the slowly growing friendships that Maria has with Yasuke, Shin, and Tomoyo. There’s a core element of sweetness that balances out the fact that Maria is navigating in a very cynical world. I’m looking forward to volume 4 to see if Maria’s unique solution is going to save her concert and repair some of the toxic relationships in her school.