I’ve read a lot of yaoi comics in my life. From pure slice-of-life to erotic sci-fi to downright horror, the genre has virtually no limits. With that said, Sakira’s Ore Miko! is one of the most memorable yaoi I’ve read thus far. Its first installment is out from Juné Manga, and it channels a unique mix of fantasy, horror, erotica, and action. Episode 1 introduces us to Kyou Izakura, a bartender who gets attacked by a demon and is subsequently saved by Shin Goudo, who appears to be some sort of demon hunter. Does the series introduce its lead characters effectively? Does it make a good first impression?
The first thing that stands out about Ore Miko! is how impressive its art is. Sakira’s line-work has a pleasing, crisp look to it and there’s a nice variety to her line weights. She also does a great job balancing tones for the most part. The deep black inks pop well against effectively utilized white space and grayscale backgrounds. Readers seeking out fan service are likely to be pleased with what they find here; the main characters are the spitting image of bara perfection. With that said, it must be noted that some sex scenes have dubious consent involved, so keep that in mind when deciding if the series is for you or not.
Sakira’s style varies a bit throughout, and these changes are usually effective reflections of tonal shifts. Most of her deviations from her usual style occur during the fight scenes, which have moments that alternate between being more cartoony or more impressionistic. A lot of the actual violence is drawn in a sketchy manner that conveys the fluid motions and speed of battle effectively. Some of the demon designs, meanwhile, amp up the terror. There’s one panel in particular where a frog demon is rendered in a chaotic fashion that calls to mind the work of Bill Sienkiewicz. There are also instances after the frogs start getting pulverized where they’re drawn more cartoonishly to match the fact that they’re no longer as imposing. The choice of frog imagery for the villains in general is great. It’s always great to see demons in fiction who don’t adhere to generic Christian iconography, and frogs in particular have a lot of body and facial features than can be exaggerated into creative horror.
In terms of introducing the series and its concepts, this episode mostly succeeds. We’re introduced to both protagonists, get a sense of their professions, and see this universe’s demons for the first time. The pacing is solid overall, especially where the action is concerned. We don’t learn a whole lot about either protagonist in terms of background or temperament, but the plot information we get is at least enough to create interest in reading further. The cliffhanger is a strong one, with Kyou reminiscing on what’s happened to him and wondering what the hell’s going on, just like readers will be. The fantasy touches here are also cool, and I’m hoping that future installments will expand on their lore.
This volume’s main cons concern Kyou and his scenes prior to being attacked by the frog demons. As previously mentioned we don’t learn much about him, and while the series has caught my interest that has little to do with the quality of the characters. Both Kyou and Shin have next to no personality as of yet, and we don’t get a strong sense of how the manga’s horrific events are actually affecting them. The pre-demon scenes are also a lot less interesting visually. They have the most unused white space in the volume, making them a bit more uniform and drab to look at. Even the page compositions in this section get a bit more predictable and less dynamic.
Overall, Ore Miko! – Episode 1 makes a good first impression. Sakira’s artwork is top-notch, and she changes up her style to effectively reflect shifts in tone and subject matter. The fantasy elements here are cool, the action is pleasing to look at, and the demon designs are a lot of fun. On the downside, the characters haven’t been fleshed out much at all and the bar scene early on is quite bland. I personally am interested to see where the series goes from here, although whether I’d recommend it to someone else or not would depend on their tastes.