We first meet Eniale (the blonde angel) and Dewiela (the dark-haired demon) as the two battle it out over cosmetics (Dewiela borrowed some eyeliner without asking and now Eniale is not happy, not happy at all). In the midst of their explosive quarrel, they discover an angelically beautiful baby, seemingly abandoned, and decide to call a truce and try to find its mother. In spite of bringing all their heavenly and demonic resources together in their quest (and creating utter havoc on earth, culminating in the conjuring of a gigantic poodle) the result of their searching turns out to be quite… unexpected. No sooner has the mystery of the adorable baby been solved than the girls are off to Paris to hit the shops and buy designer labels, riding a demon/motorcycle (because why not?). Unfortunately, their antics have attracted the attentions of a zealous exorcist, a good-looking young man called Donovan, who is soon on their trail…
A female angel and a female devil/demon who are firm friends – although frenemies might describe Eniale and Dewiela’s relationship more accurately as the girls frequently clash with disastrous results for all those around them. Fans of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman may perceive a parallel with the unlikely but enduring friendship of angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley from Good Omens… Eniale & Dewiale is Kamome Shirahama’s first published manga series, although her second to be translated into English, hot on the heels of her later (and ongoing) award-winning fantasy for all ages Witch Hat Atelier (Kodansha). The mangaka also works in US comics and her accomplished graphic style straddles East and West in influences – while remaining very much her own. The amount of detail that she’s added to the panels of Eniale & Dewiale is impressive; there’s so much to look at on every page. These first four self-contained stories are amusing and ingenious and definitely for older readers, with a number of sly little jokes and nudging references (not to mention nudity, but all in the best possible taste!). The translation notes at the end assure us that the ill-assorted bunch of demons who appear alongside Dewiela are taken from various demonological grimoires such as The Lesser Key of Solomon. Whereas – on the heavenly side – Azrael, the Angel of Death, also makes an appearance when the two friends compete/clash over the soul of a little girl who summons help from any supernatural being who will listen to her plea to save her dying mother. There’s even an ‘advertisement’ for Heaven’s Own Omniscient App ‘optimized for the mobile’ but ‘limited to premium members’ only at the end of the book. If anything, there’s too much going on sometimes – but it’s all such a riotous read that you really don’t mind! (Unless you find the religious liberties taken offensive, of course, and if that’s the case, then this is not the series for you.)
The lively translation for Yen Press that captures the madcap humour well is by Caleb D. Cook (there’s only half a page of translation notes at the end but they’re interesting and relevant) and the lettering is by Abigail Blackman, who deals expertly with both demonic and angelic pronouncements. There are no colour illustrations (a shame, given the mangaka’s skills with colour) but patterned end papers in subtle colours (a heavenly soft blue).
It will be fun to see where Shirahama takes her quarrelling winged heroines next – and whether over-keen exorcist Donovan is hot on their trail again in the next collection of stories, due out in February 2021. It looks as if they’ll be paying a visit to London and Big Ben . Is nothing sacred? I can’t wait to find out!