The Witch in Raspberry Field
Summary: A schoolgirl inadvertently becomes the servant of a secret-devouring demon, but her ineptitude (and her good heart) keeps her from causing too much trouble while doing his bidding.
Makoto's Notes: I am a fan of Miyagi Tooko (her artbook "Fantastic!" is, well, fantastic), so I happily picked up her new series even though it seemed to be a genre I have mostly given up on (Magical Girls). Can lovely art give me new appreciation for the most worn-out trope in shoujo?
Alice Rose attends Renfield Academy, a prestigious and historied school for young women. Our heroine cares little for the school's traditions, as her main concern is with the small meal portions and her constant hunger. (Yikes, strike one.)
Lord explains that he will grant Alice's wish if she becomes his witch. Alice, not really questioning how wise it is to enter into a contract with a demon, agrees to bring him "Secrets", which are the source of his power. (I'd give this a third strike for her being really naive about the whole thing, but she sweetly explains that she knows what it's like to be hungry and she wants to help. I found it endearing.) Unfortunately, he couldn't have picked a worse familiar, as she is forgetful and clueless and leaves him trapped alone for days. Alice (mostly accidentally) uncovers a classmate's Secret, which she steals and uses to revive Lord. But it's a silly, small Secret, and he sends Alice out to collect more impressive, powerful ones. Along the way, we're introduced to her classmates, most notably Alice's reluctant confidante Wendy, and the mysterious dorm head Alicia.
It would all be quite silly and bubbly except for a few glaring gothic elements, such as that Lord is a HORNED DEMON and perhaps this should worry Alice, the potential presence of rival witches at the school, and that when a Secret is stolen, the person forgets all about it. The last in particular has the potential for unintended tragedy.
On the surface, this manga is essentially a gluttonous girl using a silly spell and a magic ring to engage in Wacky Hijinks at school. But said Wacky Hijinks are performed in the name of a demon, which is intriguing, and the art really is spectacular for a serial. And book 2 has enough surprises (well, your definition of "surprise" may vary) to keep things rolling, even if Alice completely sucks at her job. I'm not rushing out to read other thematically similar Dragon Age comics, but this one is sure pretty to look at.
This series has furigana everywhere, and its quasi-British setting makes it easily accessible. It does have some dense dialogue, though. There are a lot of long conversation scenes.
Warnings and Suggestions: I'll be honest, one of the selling points for me was that this was a sweet-looking girls school story where they all weren't just trying to get under each other's skirts. So no, there is nothing in this book that I would consider objectionable.
ISBN 978-4-04-854265-4 (Volume 1)
ISBN 978-4-04-854390-3 (Volume 2)