Spell of Desire Vol. 5

Spell of Desire Volume 5 by Tomu Ohmi

It is the final volume of Spell of Desire! What’s happening in the conclusion of this paranormal romance series?

Throughout Spell of Desire Kaoruko has been heading towards a confrontation with her mother, the mysterious Witch Queen. She finds out that her mother sealed herself away as part of a spell to balance out the positive and negative energy that was building up in the world. The Witch Queen emerges, and Kaname confesses that he’s no longer able to serve as the Witch Queen’s knight due to his love for Kaoruko. The Witch Queen promptly wins an award for worst mother of the year when she announces that she’s going to curse her daughter’s boyfriend by taking all of his senses away, followed by taking his memories of Kaoruko away too. Kaname is blinded, and he slowly becomes more and more debilitated.

This curse presents quite the conundrum, and Kaoruko is determined to harness her power for once and for all in order to save Kaname. She’s been slowly inching towards claiming her power, so it was great to see her finally take charge and do something. She’s aided by an elderly black witch who shows up and indulges in a great deal of exposition as the volume wraps up.

Overall, I thought the pacing of this series was a bit off. I enjoyed the world building and character introductions in the first couple volumes a great deal, but the rest of the series felt like it was just marking time until the big witch battle happened in the final volume. Kaoruko’s rise to self-assurance and command of her power felt a bit rushed, but I still appreciate that by the end of the series she was making her own decisions and acting heroically in order to create her own happy ending. While Spell of Desire wasn’t the best example of paranormal romance, Ohmi’s clear visual storytelling made it easy to read.

I see that this manga hasn’t sold as well as Ohmi’s other series to be translated into English, Midnight Secretary. This is a bit of a shame, because I was hoping that Viz would bring out her earlier series Kindan no Koi de Ikou, since there is such a dearth of werewolf manga romance being translated into English. We have all the vampires we need, what about some werewolves for a change? I’d still recommend Spell of Desire and Midnight Secretary to romance manga fans, and I hope more of Ohmi’s work gets translated here.

Spell of Desire Vol. 4

Spell of Desire Volume 4 by Tomu Ohmi

This volume does feel very much like the next to the last volume in a series, which it is. Kaoruko continues to struggle with lessons and integration into witch society, and while her relationship with Kaname continues to develop, they are still held back by his position as her mother’s knight.

The first story (and the reason why this volume is rated mature and shrink-wrapped) shows Kaoruko investigating the sensual based powers of the black witch, by helping out the black witch Isandra. One of the more hilarious aspects of this book is the fact that one has to wear revealing clothing to channel black witch powers. Kaname decides to foil anyone else’s plans for inappropriate attire for Kaoruko by ensuring that her skin has tiny marks in strategic places. Isandra the Black Witch is (no surprise!) evil, and she attempts to steal away the power of the Witch Queen from Kaoruko. Kaoruko and Kaname manage to fend off the attack, and the coven decides that it is better for Kaoruko to return home and train quietly, since it doesn’t seem to be safe for her to train among the other witches. Kaoruko and Kaname have a few days of almost normalcy back at home, and they grow more closer emotionally. Kaoruko makes Kaname a special charm to keep him safe, knowing that he’s often placed in danger due to all the issues with her powers.

As I was reading this series, I expected Kaoruko’s mother to show up as a complicating factor before the final volume, but I guess that’s being saved for the final volume. I have to say, I enjoyed the first couple volumes a little more than the middle ones, just because I was more amused by the premise of the series. After settling in to the middle volumes Spell of Desire started to remind me a bit too much of Midnight Secretary, in that both series tend to use supernatural societal issues as complicating factors in their heroine’s paranormal romance. Ohmi’s art makes up for any quibbles I have with the plot in a large way though, as her fluid and detailed style continues to deftly portray Kaoruko’s magical problems. I’m looking forward to the conclusion of the series, and it is still a fun josei title.

Spell of Desire Vol 3

Spell of Desire Volume 3 by Tomu Ohmi

Well, there have been plenty of suggestive scenes in the first couple volumes of Spell of Desire, but finally in the third volume accidental witch Kaoruko and her mother’s favored protector Kaname get it on, due to witchy aphrodisiacs, necessary spell casting, and their growing yet not fully acknowledged feelings for each other! What more would a reader want in a josei paranormal romance?

Kaoruko has been delivered to the coven, and they decide it is necessary for her to fully become a black witch in order for her to gain some control over her powers. Black witches can’t be virgins, so they’ve decided to set Kaoruko up with an incubus in order for her to start down the path towards black magic. Kaoruko is drugged into compliance, but she’s still not cool with the idea of being with anyone but Kaname, and fortunately her knight protector decides to intervene in the ritual deflowering, breaking several rules in the process.

Kaname and Kaoruko end up seeking refuge in a house in the woods owned by an impressive looking white wolf (this is a crossover appearance with a character from a series that hasn’t been translated into English yet), and Kaoruko learns a bit more about Kaname’s background and why he’s so devoted to her mother. As always in this series, Kaname’s commitment to the Witch Queen causes Kaoruko to have doubts about their future. When the couple return to the coven, Kaoruko meets more of her mother’s knights, and Kaname is punished horribly. Kaoruko is determined to learn more about witchcraft so she can protect him.

A bunch of new characters get introduced in this volume, and the plot grows more complex as Kaoruko starts to learn more about the differences between white and black magic. It’ll be interesting to see what she can accomplish once she’s fully in command of her powers. I continue to enjoy Ohmi’s art, and I enjoy the way Kaoruko’s power still manifests as vine-like tendrils that curve around the panels of the manga. This series is only 5 volumes long, and this volume served as an effective middle volume, showing Kaoruko about to start gathering more knowledge and power. I recommend this series for any fans of paranormal romance manga!

Spell of Desire, Vol. 2

Spell of Desire Volume 2 by Tomu Ohmi

This series is rapidly becoming my favorite josei masked as shoujo series released on the Shojo Beat imprint. When I picked up the second volume, I was expecting a bit of filler with a few more episodes of Kaoruko’s runaway witch powers manifesting, with the obligatory makeout sessions with Kaname in order to keep her powers under control. While this certainly happened, Ohmi also went full speed ahead with plot development, introducing us to more backstory, evil covens, and Kaname actually admitting he has feelings for the young witch he has sworn to protect.

The sensual nature of Kaoruko’s magic ensures that she’s going to be an object of attraction to men, and Kaname is struggling with this himself. She wants to be able to control her magical abilities, but the fact is that having her mother’s power sealed inside her, in addition to her own magic has made her a bit of a danger to herself. Kaname returns to the coven, leaving one of his mystical animal sidekicks behind for Karuoku’s protection. In his dealings with the coven we see how Kaname is struggling with wanting what is best for his charge as person, in contrast to the way the coven views her as a valuable pawn. He wants to protect her freedom as much as possible, but the powerful witches he reports to might make this difficult.

Kaoruko’s neighbor Yu finds himself irresistibly attracted to her when her magic spirals out of control, but fortunately Unicorn delays things a bit. When some additional witches show up at Kaoruko’s house, she’s almost attacked again, but Kaname returns just in time to save her. Towards the end of the volume, Kaoruko makes a fateful decision to protect Kaname herself. While she’s been a bit passive so far due to reacting to her out of control powers, Kaoruko shows that she has plenty of willpower when someone she cares about is threatened.

I still really enjoy the way Ohmi portrays Kaoruko’s powers as black vines becoming entwined around the panels of the manga, it’s a visual device that is both pretty and ominous at the same time. I was happy that by the second volume, both Kaoruko and Kaname are clear that they love each other, even if they aren’t clear yet that their feelings are reciprocated. I think there will be interesting times ahead if Kaoruko is able to control her own powers and doesn’t need Kaname’s protection as much. I highly recommend this series if you enjoy paranormal romance manga.

Spell of Desire, Vol. 1

Spell of Desire Volume 1 by Tomu Ohmi

I am unapologetically enthusiastic about Shojo Beat’s new habit of releasing slightly smutty josei manga under the Shojo Beat imprint. More josei is a good thing! I was happy to see that after a few volumes of Tohmu Ohmi’s Midnight Secretary, another series of hers was licensed by Viz. Spell of Desire is that series, and I might even like it more than I like Midnight Secretary, as impossible as that might seem.

As you might guess from the title, with Spell of Desire, Ohmi has turned her attention to witches! Kaoruko Mochizuki is a herbalist in a small village, but one day a mysterious man named Kaname Hibiki shows up at her store and announces that she’s a witch, descended from a long line of women with mystical power. It turns out that Kaoruko’s long lost mother is a Witch Queen, and she’s sealed her power within Kaoruko. As the power begins to activate, Kaoruko will need help controlling it, and Kaname just happens to be the Knight dedicated to her protection.

I loved the contrast between Kaoruko and Kaname. She’s drawn as an earthy, hippie type, with flowing layers of clothing with botanical prints that reflect her connection to her profession. Kaoruko is a bit naive, but committed to the customers at her shop and the simple way of life that she enjoys. Kaname’s severe, with an all-black wardrobe and glasses that make him look stern. He also has a bit of a snarky and cynical personality. Kaname comes with two animal companions named Dragon and Unicorn, that appear to be a fluffy white cat and dog, but actually possess mystical powers themselves. When Kaoruko accidentally activates her mystical powers, they manifest as black vine tendrils winding across the panels in the manga, becoming more tangled as her powers become more out of control. Of course, there is a fail-safe mechanism to calm Kaoruko down – kisses from Kaname.

The first volume deals with the conflict between Kaoruko and Kaname as he insinuates himself into her life in order to protect her from her runaway witch powers. It is terrible, but Kaname and Kaoruko have to kiss very often because her powers are starting to really get out of control. While at first Kaoruko is resistant to the idea that she’s a witch, she decides to accept her situation calmly and deal with it even if there are things that she doesn’t understand. Kaname comments in response, “You’re such a decent person it’s almost ludicrous.” Kaoruko is left wondering about Kaname’s real relationship with her mother the Witch Queen, and I can see how there will be plenty to explore in future volumes as Kaoruko has to deal with her new reality as a witch and Kaname’s place in her life. Fans of Midnight Secretary or paranormal romance manga in general should snap this up!