Author Shuzo Oshimi is perhaps best known for being the creator behind The Flowers of Evil or Blood on the Tracks, but he’s a creator with over ten manga to his name. Most of his work has made it to the West thanks to Kodansha and other publishers, but there are still some in his catalogue waiting in the wings. The latest of these to make its way to English is Devil Ecstasy, which I’m here to take a look at today!
The story follows Noboru, an eighteen-year-old who has been traumatized by big breasts, due to being shoved between those of his cousins as a child. This event has prevented him from getting close to any woman with noticeably large breasts since then, but like any teenage boy, he finds himself wanting to be in a relationship and lose his virginity.
After a failed mixer party, Noboru and his friend Takahashi decide to find a brothel where they can receive some pleasure to make up for their difficulties in finding a girlfriend. The place they come across is called Devil Ecstasy and upon entering, the boys are faced with pictures of hundreds of girls to choose from. In the end, Noboru chooses a girl called Melulu who is flat-chested and unlikely to set off his post-traumatic stress.
It’s love at first sight for Noboru but after he calls Melulu’s breasts beautiful, she throws him out and warns him to never come back or his life will be in danger. Noboru reluctantly leaves and waits for Takahashi, who returns from his 60 minutes of passion looking like all the life has been sucked out of him! A passer-by called Kageo informs Noboru that the girls at Devil Ecstasy are all a type of demon known as a succubus who live to suck the lifeforce out of all their clients and now nothing can be done to help Takahashi.
Of course, Noboru isn’t about to believe that succubi are real, at least not until a couple of days later when he finds out Takahashi has passed away! This spurs Noboru into going back to Devil Ecstasy to confront the woman his friend slept with (called Siréne), but when he gets there he finds himself frozen when confronted by her large breasts. Determined to suck out Noboru’s lifeforce, Siréne tries to force him into having sex which only leads to him throwing up all over her (because of his trauma) and running away. This of course leads to one angry succubus, given she’s never failed to take what she wants from any man she’s set her sights on and she’s determined to take Noboru’s life, no matter what.
If you think this is Oshimi at his most unhinged then you’d probably be correct. From here the story ends up in this awkward situation where Noboru is running for his life and finds himself helped by Melulu, who wants to be in a relationship with him but doesn’t feel like she can be, because of being a succubus herself.
Then it’s revealed that succubi have been slowly expanding their numbers and infiltrating all corners of the world, which means that at this rate, humanity is destined to die out or at least be taken control of by the succubi. I was more or less on-board with the plot until this point and then completely checked out. It’s just so unrealistic and nonsensical that could have happened without anyone noticing until Noboru came along.
Honestly, all of this is way beyond anything a character like Noboru can resolve on his own, so I find myself intrigued to find out what Oshimi has in store for us at the end, even while weary of it. The author is well known for diving deep into exploring human nature and sexual desires; that’s one of the reasons I find his series so fascinating. Oshimi will never shy away from the bad or the ugly side of humanity and that’s true here as well.
If you’re familiar with his work then you’ll instantly recognise the hallmarks of his writing here even despite only being his third published series in Japan. Because it’s an older release, it’s not as polished as his later work – in the artwork or story department. It’s certainly not subtle about its subject matter either, given how much sexual content and nudity there is throughout this release. Oshimi’s later works at least manage to rein in some of this.
Although I said the artwork isn’t as polished, it’s still not bad. The character designs look quite dated but they are recognisable as being Oshimi’s style and wouldn’t look out of place in his later works with a bit of redrawing. The backgrounds are quite detailed from panel to panel and scenes are easy to follow, but I did find some of it comical when I’m not sure that’s the feeling Oshimi was hoping to convey. For example, when Noboru is being chased by a naked Siréne through town and her breasts are flapping up and down (in a totally unrealistic way), I couldn’t help but laugh.
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to decide if I like Devil Ecstasy or not and I still don’t think I’ve found my answer. It’s honestly a ridiculous story that I’m convinced won’t have a satisfying ending, but it’s also sort-of hilarious. If you like the author then I think it’s worth checking out just to see where a lot of the themes he’s polished over the years come from and what happens when they’re not kept in check as much as they are now. For anyone else, honestly, I’d struggle to recommend this. There’s not a lot of substance here and over-the-top sex and nudity will almost certainly put the majority of readers off, especially when coupled with the plot.
Devil Ecstasy Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Kodansha and has been translated by Alexandria McCullough-Garcia. The translation reads well with no issues to note. In Japan, this series was released in four volumes, but for the English releases, they’re being combined into two-volume omnibuses so the next release will finish off the series. Volume 2 of the English releases is scheduled for a release in July.
Overall, Devil Ecstasy Volume 1 is a hard sell for anyone but existing fans of the author. The story escalates so quickly from being largely okay to being completely ridiculous that it seems impossible for the author to conclude in a way that makes sense. Coupled with the copious amount of sex and nudity, this one is certainly not for everyone.