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review 2020-06-07 17:16
Satan's Secretary (manga, vol. 1) by Kamotsu Kamonabe, translated by Jennifer O'Donnell
Satan's Secretary, Vol. 1 - Kamotsu Kamonabe,Jennifer O'Donnell

When a child is born with the Crest of Light on the back of his hand, it's a signal that Satan, too, will soon become unsealed and threaten world domination. Satan's a bit of a heavy sleeper, though, so it takes another 13 years for him to drag himself out of bed. After he finally gets up, he demands that a female human scholar be brought before him, so that he can torture her for her knowledge of other humans.

The human his minions find for him is a secretary. She came willingly and has, in fact, been planning world domination for a while now. Not long after being brought before Satan, she negotiates herself from "human slave" to "paid employee with a conveniently nebulous position in the demon world's new organizational chart." As she completely reworks the Demon Lord's army to her own specifications, the Demon Lord is left wondering what happened and how he can somehow keep himself from becoming a mere figurehead.

Satan's Secretary was originally created in 2014 and first published in Japan in 2016 or 2017, so the parallels I saw between several things in the first half of this volume and current events and the Trump administration were probably accidental. But this volume was first published in English in 2018, and the translator had to have known what they were doing when they had one of the human characters say "We need to make the kingdom great again." Between that and one of the secretary's more detailed plans eerily resembling what's going on in the US right now, the first half of this volume occasionally made for uncomfortable reading. Oh, and then there was the way both the human king and Satan were so easily manipulated, and the king proposing the annihilation of some demons as a way to distract his subjects from his bad leadership and decision to use tax money for his own personal benefit.

So 2020 may not have been the best year to read this. But even if I had read it at a different time, I'm not sure it would have worked much better for me. Layout-wise, this volume was a bit of a mess. Panels were crammed with text and tiny art, making this a more exhausting read than I was expecting. And the comedy wasn't particularly funny. It was one part corporate humor, one part satire about bad leadership, and one part experimentation with conflicting tones.

The secretary tackled everything from new hiring practices for the Demon Lord's army, to improving the morning commute, to the complexities of providing financial aid to demonic families. It was clever, and I suppose it was a little amusing watching the Demon Lord struggle not to be overshadowed by his new secretary, but there was nothing that really made me laugh.

The Demon Lord and his minions were terrible but, despite mentions of torture and rape, were largely presented as jokes. It was no wonder they never succeeded at world domination. The secretary, on the other hand, was true evil. She came to Satan with multiple detailed plans for accomplishing world domination, and, if the demons hadn't had more of a conscience than she did, she'd likely have managed it by the end of the volume. While I liked her efficiency, her competence, and the fact that she didn't take crap from anyone, she was so coldly evil that I found her impossible to root for. There was a single moment when readers were given a glimpse of her motivations, but even that didn't make her more sympathetic or relatable.

One last thing before I wrap this up, more of a note for my own purposes than anything: there's a scene involving a lust spell that confirms that the secretary is canon asexual and aromantic. I still wouldn't recommend this for that reason, though, because it's not like the world needs another evil aro ace character. Also, it makes the moments when Satan imagines the secretary as his sex slave even slimier.

I didn't think this was completely terrible, but it wasn't to my tastes and I doubt I'll ever read more of it.


Single-page extra scenes in between chapters, five pages of the original 2014 doujin version, one full-color page, and an afterword by the author.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2015-09-30 23:51
Blood Domination (Blood Destiny #4) by Connie Suttle
Blood Domination - Connie Suttle

Due to her being hunted by various forces, Wlodek decide the best thing to do with Lissa is get her out of the way for a while. Thankfully mysterious Griffin has an idea


Send her to an entirely new world where she can use her great powers to solve a whole load of easily-fixed-by-violence problems in a not-very-alien-society

Meanwhile Wlodek & co try to continue the hunt against Xenides while simultaneously making terrible decisions.




So I pick up the next book in this vampire series and….




Ok that was unexpected. I admit to having reservations, but I’m not adverse to genre mash-up even if I’ve rarely actually seen it do well and if, after three books in this series, I’m not confident that this series would be the one to do it well. And, alas, I was surprisingly right.

So, Lissa ends up going to another world and meeting a range of new species and it is done so incredibly lazily that was just quite depressing. Lissa is moved to this new world through woo-woo. That woo-woo also comes with convenient understand-any-language woo-woo to avoid any kind of culture shock

Of which there is absolutely none. The world is called Refizan, the people are Refizani and may or may not be human. If they’re not they look entirely like humans. And by humans I mean white western humans (there’s an Asian-appearing-alien-who-looks-human-because-LAZY who is apparently clearly not from this planet because he’s not white). Their culture seems to be a vaguely western parallel. Their buildings, cities, market place, food, manufactured products, modes of travel, news dissemination, media – none of it is presented as any different from what Lissa had experienced in the US and London. There was no real description of the world to make it seem any different from a generic western city. Flying over the city as mist, Lissa can pick out buildings like shops and hospitals and religious buildings. Their government is a fairly generic democracy which, like anything el

Honestly, you could replace “Refizan” with “Ohio” and not really make any real difference to the story. An alien world that is completely unrecognisable from a western nation populated by people who are indistinguishable from white westerners with all language and transports difficulties being resolved by woo-woo is some of the laziest damn aliens I’ve ever seen – and that includes every film and TV show that decided a little bit of heavy make up would be sufficient to depict an alien species. Though we did have a giant blue dude. Who was giant. And blue. That’s kind of it.


Even on the supernatural side, the world has its own vampire circle which is basically a direct parallel to Wlodek and his people on Earth. Except lazier



Why lazier? Because to make this lazy plot glide along with minimal difficulty there is no real conflict. And one of the sources of no conflict is Gabron, head of the Refizan vampire council who basically nods and smiles to everything Lissa says because she is the Specilist Person Ever, Praise be Her Sueness and, like so many others, he found her super hot and wants to have sex with her. Despite being a complete stranger and alien, Lissa is trusted, her every suspicion and suggestion is quickly followed up. Including when she declares various prominent vampires to be super evil and deserving of imprisonment. Effectively this turns the vampires into Lissa’s personal army.


Yet the laziness continues! Because this book is AMAZINGLY lazily written. The next item of laziness is Lissa’s powers. Her super shiny Mary Sue powers that make her super-duper dangerous even if she is only 5 years a vampire and able to kill just about anything she comes across with zero conflict at all because she is just that special. Her powers are completely unprecedented and completely eclipse everything any other vampire has ever been able to achieve. On top of being able to kill anything around her with minimal effort, she also has the useful ability of being able to smell evil


Yes we’re introduced to dimension hopping light and dark elves to try and justify this, but it comes down to being able to “smell evil”. With this infallible evil detector she kills bad guys with her super killy powers. No, really, she uses this detect evil power with such lack of subtlety that a 10 year old playing a Paladin in a D&D game would disapprove.


There is no nuance in Lissa’s powers and also no nuance in the bad guys – the Solar Red priests. This is a foreign religion coming to this planet and is regarded with suspicion and worry and accused of human sacrifice. Of course this is an excellent way to examine suspicion of the outsider, how foreign faiths can be demonised, how the rituals we’re familiar with are comforting while foreign ritual seems barbaric even though, objectively, both make as little real sense and seem a little weird and it could be a great way to examine how the persecution of minority religions happens

HAH! No. Solar Red priests are evil. They rape, torture and murder with impunity. In fact that’s all they do. The entire point of this religion is to be pure evil – I can’t even imagine this religion having holy texts. They regularly kidnap and torture people for funsies, they’re brutal for the sheer sake of brutality. They are caricatures of evil. There’s no attempt at nuance here, let alone any attempt to depict HOW this religion has gained so many adherents. I mean, what do you do, hand out religious tracts about the joys of torturing children?


They’re super-duper evil because they’re being controlled by super-duper-evil aliens. Again, that pretty much sums up what they are. Evil for the sake of evilness



Read More


Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2015/09/blood-domination-blood-destiny-4-by.html
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