Hey guys! It’s been quite a long while since we last got to feast on a delicious Manga Morsel, and I’m sure that you must be starving! So, to remedy this, I thought for this week’s trip down the Otaku Rabbit Hole, why don’t we treat ourselves with a deliciously more-ish Manga Morsel. This week’s pick is the gorgeous School of Horns by Mito Aoi and published by Yen Press. Without further ado, buckle up everyone and let’s get right into it!
In a world in which demons and humans coexist, there is an academy responsible for training the next generation of demons, honing their magical potential and preparing them for their future as an important member of the demon/ human populace. The demons that attend this academy are divided according to their horn shapes – hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades – each of which with their own unique specialty magic or trait, ranging from alchemy to powerful and destructive battle magic. However, not only are these horns a sign of a person’s magical aptitude, but the size of a person’s horns is also an indicator as to the strength of that individual’s magic, with larger horns equating to greater power. Enter Eru, the protagonist of this tale, who possesses a set of small horns due to his half-human, half-demon parentage, which leaves him the victim of bullies and the mockery of the school at large. On his first major assignment, Eru is paired with the “Ace” of Spades Rihito. Aces are the most powerful and highest-ranking demons in each year group, with one student selected for each horn type from each year group. After arguing with Rihito regarding his apparent uselessness, both Eru and Rihito come face-to-face with an elite monster, far stronger than what they can naturally handle. In a moment of desperation, Eru grabs Rihito and, in an explosive burst,the monster is vanquished! It is then revealed that Eru is, in fact, a rare anomaly within the land of demons: a class of demon known as a Joker, whose abilities vary from individual to individual, but in the case of Eru, allow him to amplify the magic/ power of anyone he touches!
From here, the story truly begins, where Eru and friends go about their daily school lives, facing their worries and insecurities, while trying to grow not only in power, but as people. A sweet and relaxing read, School of Horns covers the insecurities that plague teenagers, only with a slightly demonic twist. Will Eru finally grow to accept himself? Will any romance bloom in the halls of this magical school? What darkness looms just around the corner? Well, to find out, you need only start reading!
While a little cliché and predictable, the first volume possesses a sense of calming relaxation that keeps the pages turning. While never truly breaking the mould, this story is still solid and will undoubtedly be a home-run for existing fans of bubble-gum shoujo and slice-of-life manga – even if it will do very little to draw new fans to the genre.
Art style and characters
School of Horns’ art style leans heavily on the soft and sweet art style synonymous with shoujo and slice-of-life manga, never really straying far away from convention, often just adding horns to set characters apart. Individual characters hold a sense of identity reflected in their designs that are both interesting and fun. However, many of the characters found in this manga feel uncannily familiar to pre-existing characters from other franchises, both in their designs and their personalities. For this, you need look no further than the identical twins Mao and Reo, a pair that draw immediately apparent inspiration from the Ouran twins Hikaru and Kaoru. While nothing overtly negative, it is a small but significant detracting feature due to that fact that these characters lack a true sense of individuality, feeling more like personified tropes and not-so-subtle tributes to characters that have come before. Don’t get me wrong, while the characters and designs are nothing ground-breaking, the soft, dreamlike art of this manga is genuinely beautiful and makes for a relaxing journey from start to finish, lending itself splendidly to building a low-stakes, relaxed affair, with the occasional dramatic moment dotted throughout.
While School of Horns is a relatively fun ride that I personally enjoyed, I can’t say that it rocked my world. From the adorable, if forgettable, character designs to the fun yet predictable story, this manga isn’t one that sets out to redesign the wheel, instead being content to coast comfortably on many conventions set forth by its predecessors – and honestly, that’s absolutely fine. This first volume sets up a relatively dramatic cliff-hanger and I will say that I’m honestly looking forward to checking out Volume 2. This isn’t a manga that I could recommend to everyone, but for fans of cute, low-stakes romance manga, you won’t go far wrong by picking up School of Horns. With all of that said, I hope you enjoyed this week’s trip down the Otaku Rabbit Hole, and if you did and decide to check this manga out for yourself, please let me know what you think! Thanks once again for joining me and, as always, keep it weeby everyone!