Mugen Spiral – Mizuho Kusanagi: Series Review

Mugen Spiral first ran in Hana to Yume shoujo manga magazine in 2004. It was licensed by TokyoPop and published in two volumes in North America in 2007.

Cover of Volume 1

Cover of Volume 1

The Gist: Yayoi, a spunky high school girl, has inherited spiritual powers from her mother, and she uses these powers to protect people. During a fight with the devil Ura, Yayoi’s power turns the devil into a black kitten. Now, even though Ura doesn’t hide his desire to “eat” Yayoi’s power when he gets the chance, they develop an interesting relationship: the two begin living together, and Yayoi takes her new feline “friend” on her adventures.

The Review: Mugen Spiral is Kusanagi’s second serialized work in Hana to Yume. I went looking for this series since I had already read NG Life and am really liking the Akatsuki no Yona anime.The story itself is only two volumes but that didn’t keep Kusanagi from drawing an interesting plot. Hot guy? Check. Spunky Heroine? Check. Sexy Villain? Check. Cute Mascot? Check. Mugen Spiral has it all and it still remains a standard for Kusanagi today. I like how the demon Ura has that “I’m a Badass” attitude but still is softhearted. All bark and no bite, until he really has to fight. Yayoi is not some weak shoujo protagonist either. She has enough power to trap Ura and she isn’t about to let him devour her without a fight. She’s got a sharp tongue and loves to put Ura in his place by transforming him back into a cat if he gets too ambitious. Ura in his cat form is cute and funny. I love how Yayoi can just cuddle him, even though he’s a demon. While the prince seeks Yayoi’s power, it’s not for selfish reasons. The prince wants to go back to the demon world to save his ill father. Yayoi realizes his kindness and that’s why she doesn’t seem to be able to let Ura leave either, since he’s keeping her from being all alone. She wants him to go back to his family but she won’t be eaten, so the two remain at an impasse. Until Ouga, Ura’s brother, comes looking for him to destroy him and take over the demon kingdom. Ouga ends up testing the bonds of brotherhood between himself and Ura.

I felt like this short story was a prototype of sorts for later character designs and plot themes that Kusanagi would use in the future. For instance Ura’s character design is an early version of Hak from AnY with a Harry Potter scar on his forehead. Similar personality too. His brother Ouga looks a lot like Soo Won. I’m reading this going, “OMG it’s Hak vs. Soo-Won, but they’re brothers!” So the plot element of fighting against the ones you love is developed here, and obviously used again later in AnY. Yayoi’s character design and personality traits are reused in NG Life as Mii Serazawa. I was also tickled by the side character Kusanagi created that is Ura’s demon “lover” who comes to try and help him on earth. His name is HAKuyo. He’s the BL tease of the series, which I notice Kusanagi always tries to include in her works. She’s pretty good at setting up the BL situations without it becoming yaoi, and it’s always comical.

Here's a little BL tease from Kusanagi.

Here’s a little BL tease from Kusanagi.

The Art: Kusanagi has really hit her stride with her most recent series, but you can see where it comes from in her earlier works. The character designs as I mentioned are very familiar, so you could say this series has some of her most original designs. I still love how she draws animals. Ura as a cat is so cute it’s endearing. Although kind of boxy, the paneling flows well and you can see that Kusanagi is about keeping it simple. The majority of the pages aren’t crammed with needless designs and toning. I really enjoyed reading this series. The translation is okay. It was done by TokyoPop and there are some slang terms, like “durhh”, that are now outdated. Guess it’s been 8 years, but still, I don’t come across that when I read other series from Viz of that same time period.

Scene in which Ura hesitates to take Yayoi's powers once again.

Scene in which Ura hesitates to take Yayoi’s powers once again.

The Audience: Mugen Spiral is great if you like magical romances. If you enjoy Akatsuki no Yona, then definitely give it a read. There’s very little that would be inappropriate so it’s perfect for tweens/teens as well.

The Media: Mugen Spiral was published in two volumes and then in an omnibus by TokyoPop. It is available from manga retailers. If you have a hard time finding it, check your local library, book resale stores, or online auction sites.

Heart of Manga Rating:♥♥♥♥

I really enjoyed Mugen Spiral. Everything I’ve read by Kusanagi just shows how well she’s developed her craft through the years. I’m sure Mugen Spiral and NG Life didn’t sell so well for TokyoPop. I think they were ahead of the game with this mangaka. But right now would be the time for Viz to get her most recent series, Akatsuki no Yona. No matter how many volumes it is. There are fans who really enjoy reading her series.

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Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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  • Will definitely have to read this. It’s so cool to see where an artist began, and to see how similar their first works are to their newest ones.

  • […] on Manga) Lesley Aeschliman on vol. 1 of Meteor Prince (Lesley’s Musings on Manga) Laura on Mugen Spiral (Heart of Manga) Matthew Warner on vol. 7 of Nisekoi (The Fandom Post) Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 25 […]

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