Earlier in the year, popular mangaka Hiromu Arakawa returned to the Western market with a new series Daemons of the Shadow Realm. Just like her beloved Fullmetal Alchemist, we were introduced to a shonen series with plenty of twists and turns and a likeable cast to get readers invested. Now with Volume 2 in hand, let’s find out if this one continues to be an interesting read!
When we left protagonist Yuru in Volume 1, he’d had his whole life turned upside down. Outside of the remote mountain village he grew up in is an advanced society which seems to him as if it could as well be on a completely different planet. Although we readers know this as modern-day Tokyo.
In what was another surprising twist in the first book, the one who attacked his village was his twin sister, Asa. The one locked up in the centre of the village was a fake and Yuru was left wondering why his sister would do such a terrible thing to the place that should be their home. Now on the outside, Yuru’s two companions from the village, Hana and Dera, are hoping to lie low and keep our hero out of the spotlight. Unfortunately, Yuru has other ideas and quickly sets off with his Daemons in search of his sister and answers to his questions.
Naturally, Asa has predicted that Yuru would seek her out and it’s not long before he finds himself falling into the trap set by her and her co-conspirators: the Kagemori Clan. A fight ensues between the two, but could it be that Asa isn’t the enemy and actually attacked the village in order to rescue her brother? Once again Yuru finds himself unsure of where he stands and what’s really going on, but at least reunited with his sister, he’s one step closer to the truth.
Just like in its first outing, there’s no downtime here as Daemons of the Shadow Realm charges ahead with its narrative. While this could be an issue for other manga, it has to be said that Arakawa’s experienced hand guides us through this story perfectly. This is not an overly dense series in terms of dialogue and exposition, being a shonen; more often than not there’s an emphasis on action scenes. But at the same time, there’s a lot of depth to both the setting and the backstories of all the characters, so there’s plenty for Arakawa to juggle.
And juggle Arakawa does as she reveals yet more twists in the narrative. This series has had some of the best fakeout scenes I’ve seen in manga recently (particularly in Volume 1), so it’s nice to see that continue into Volume 2 but not become convoluted. Everything that happens does so for a reason and when you look back over the earlier chapters it’s easy to see where it was hinted at. I enjoyed learning more about both Asa and the group she’s partnered with in pursuit of her goals. We meet some new Daemons in the form of a tortoise and a rabbit too, who are adorable while also being fearsome fighters. While the Divine Right and Left whom Yuru partnered with might be legendary, their strength is certainly put to the test here.
Much like Fullmetal Alchemist, this is a story of two siblings who have ended up caught up in a much bigger incident. When I reviewed the first book, I commented that there were a lot of similarities between that series and this one, which I still believe is true. They’re not similar enough to feel like the same story, but you can see where Arakawa has returned to some of the same concepts and themes, while adding an extra level of polish thanks to the experience she’s gained since then. It adds an extra layer of enjoyment for those who are familiar with her work, while newcomers won’t lose anything, should this be their first time reading something of hers. Most of all it’s fun to watch Arakawa experiment with popular tropes, such as Yuru leaving his village and coming into the modern-day Tokyo which feels almost isekai-like as he marvels over technology and vehicles before the story quickly moves onto more important matters.
Daemons of the Shadow Realm Volume 2 comes to the West thanks to Square Enix Manga and continues to be translated by Amanda Haley with lettering by Bianca Pistillo and Phil Christie. As before, the translation reads well and there are a page of translation notes at the back of the volume. Also included are some 4-koma extras and some rough sketches, which are certainly nice additions.
Volume 3 is set for an English release in early December with #4 following in April 2024. So not a terribly long wait for the next release, but certainly on quite a slow release schedule, due to the Japanese chapter releases being monthly. However, I’m sure we can all agree that this one is worth the wait!
Overall, Daemons of the Shadow Realm Volume 2 is another exciting instalment in a series that is quickly proving Hiromu Arakawa is still a formidable force in the shonen market. As we navigate the twists and turns of the narrative I find myself eager to find out where the story is headed as we watch over these two siblings, similarly to Edward and Alphonse back in the early 2000s.
A free preview can be found on Square Enix’s website here.
Our review copy from Square Enix Manga was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services).