Tempest’s Downpour – Kyo Kara Maoh! Review

Posted on Nov 06 2011

Yuri Shibuya – a 15-year-old Japanese student who is typical in every way until he one day gets sucked into a toilet and comes out in another world. He has a strong sense of justice.
Conrad Weller – Yuri’s godfather who lives in this other world. He is half-human, half-demon and he acts as mentor to Yuri. He’s the middle son of Cecile, the former Maoh.

Wolfram von Bielefeld – Yuri’s rival who, under bizarre circumstances, winds up engaged to Yuri. He has a beautiful face, but a short temper. He’s the youngest son of Cecile.
Gwendal von Voltaire – The strong, silent eldest son of Cecile. His cold exterior belies his kindness. He enjoys sewing and puts up with his insane friend who likes to use him as a guinea pig for her inventions.
Gunter von Kleist – This guy is supposed to be the royal aid, but he seems more like Yuri’s personal screaming fangirl. Every scene he’s in is immediately reduced to something over-dramatic and intentionally funny – though for me, it always falls very short of humor. He’s like that annoying yaoi fangirl at a con who you can’t shake off.

There are more background characters that help add to the story, but there are too many to keep track of.

Clockwise from center: Yuri, Wolfram, Gwendal, Gunter, some guy named Josak, Conrad.

Yuri is your typical, baseball-loving Japanese high school student. One day, when fending off bullies attacking an acquaintance, he gets flushed down a toilet. He emerges Alice-in-Wonderland-style in a world with a Medieval-European themed world where demons and humans live side-by-side, but rarely amicably. Yuri is crowned the king (Maoh) of the demons and I guess that means king of the whole country or something – it wasn’t really clear.

He’s met with opposition, not only from himself as he tries to explain that he’s just a typical human boy, but also from two of the former Maoh’s sons: Wolfram and Gwendal. Ala Yu Yu Hakusho, Yuri goes into a demon form, kicks everyone into submission, and then passes out, forgetting the whole ordeal ever happened.

The rest of the series covers Yuri’s misadventures as his underdeveloped common sense and overdeveloped sense of justice land him in the most bizarre circumstances. Interestingly, he tries to correct any unfairness he finds, but that doesn’t usually fix the deeper problem. For example, a town’s economy has fallen apart because it has no water. He brings water to this town, but a volume later he finds out that the town’s economy still doesn’t exist even with water, and the townspeople are becoming prostitutes far from home to send money to their starving families.

There is a strong emphasis on cultural differences: for example, Yuri, Wolfram and Conrad are on a ship that gets boarded by pirates. Yuri and Wolfram hide in the closet (I see what you did there) and make a sudden noise that catches the attention of the pirates. Yuri tries meowing, but the pirates misinterpret the noise as a foul dragon-like beast that will surely eat them. Other fun cultural differences are that everyone eats with sporks and slapping someone is this world’s way of proposing to them.

Each character reacts to Yuri differently, but they all wind up feeling strongly for him. Gunter is, as I said, an insane fangirl. Gwendal at first despises Yuri for being a weak leader who does not believe in battle, but eventually sees the goal Yuri is aiming for. Gwendal eventually sees Yuri as something cute, if a bit strange. Conrad harbors mentor-like feelings for Yuri and always offers an explanation for cultural differences. Meanwhile, Wolfram transforms from rival to jealous and insecure fiancé around Yuri, who does not return his feelings.

From right to left: Yuri, Conrad and Wolfram clad in the style of this other world.

Strongest Character
Yuri, being the protagonist, is supposed to come across as a strong character what with his power as king and his strong sense of justice. However, the supporting characters nearly outshine him. It’s hard to ignore Gunter’s constant screaming, but the character who comes across most strongly is, in my opinion, Conrad.

Conrad acts as mentor and support to Yuri. He tries to teach Yuri the way of this world and he backs up the young king’s endeavors whenever possible. He’s always patient and explains things to Yuri in a subtle manner that is never demeaning. I didn’t catch this when I watched the anime, but it seems like Yuri’s connection to Conrad is stronger and is more positive than with any other character in the series.

Even though Wolfram’s jealousy and Gwendal’s softer side are amusing to see, Conrad is the strongest character in this series.

Conrad, the strongest character.

Strongest Scene
Due to a series of bizarre events, Yuri winds up imprisoned at a women’s camp for female elopers. The women are sentenced to lift and move heavy rocks in a mine to gather some kind of mineral. Yuri starts to carry out his sentence, but then sees what the prison guards do to the babies the female prisoners have given birth to.

These guards carry a bundle to the middle of the plain and begin to dig a grave for it, claiming that the child is dead. But then it starts wriggling and wheezing. They go about trying to bury it anyway. Yuri freaks out and goes into demon form, desperate to punish everyone involved in this prison camp.

Our heroes unwrap the baby and see that it’s been beaten nearly to death. The artist rendered bruises all over its body, and it was truly a startling sight to see in such a (somewhat) lighthearted series. Kyo Kara Maoh! definitely has its dark points, and so far this was the darkest.


“Classic” is the best word to describe this style. Every bit of it looks the typical anime style and it remains strong throughout the series. However, the characters in this other world have intricately detailed garments and wavy (rather than spiky) hair styles that make the main character seem average by comparison. (Of course, to them, Yuri is gorgeous and the rest of them are average, but whatever).

The style doesn’t change much throughout the series, for which I am grateful. Clothing gets the most attention and buildings/surroundings typically get glossed over, although architecture can be gorgeously detailed when the illustrator puts her mind to it.

Yuri and Wolfram in incredibly detailed clothing.

Cover Art
The covers are all full-color with illustrations that look just like the artwork in the rest of the manga. Each cover shows Yuri and his crew in some action-poses as he holds an item important to the storyline. For example, in volume 4 the cover shows Yuri and Gwendal handcuffed together and in volume 5 they get arrested. It’s a bit preemptive, I think, to show something on one cover that doesn’t even happen until the next volume, but it’s the thought that counts.

Let me just add that the material used for the cover is some kind of textured paper rather than the typical glossy cover. It’s not terribly durable, but it’s pleasant against the fingers and for some inexplicable reason, I love it.

The English-language publication of volume 1.

Back Cover Summary
It wouldn’t be a Tokyopop manga if the back cover summary weren’t completely befuddling, offensive and/or full of gratuitous exclamation marks! For some reason, Tokyopop believed that this series was a gender-bender. I would attempt to explain to Tokyopop why it is incorrect on every level, except that dear, sweet, misguided Tokyopop is no longer with us. Let us have a moment of silence for our departed friend…

… Silence is over. The summary sucks. It’s not the worst I’ve seen – I think that one goes to Shinobi Life. And eventually Tokyopop starts to describe some of the things that actually happen in the volumes, though with the sort of dry, clinical edge of a doctor writing his prescriptions.

Author’s Notes
Kyo Kara Maoh! is based off a novel by the same name. The author of the original novel, Tomo Takabayashi, leaves notes at the end of each volume for the manga artist. The manga author, Temari Matsumoto, responds to these memos and that’s about the extent of the author’s notes. Ironically, the two spend more time talking about the anime adaptation than anything else, and the interactions aren’t very interesting.

Though met with resistance, Yuri eventually becomes the new Maoh.

Who Will Enjoy This?
This series seems to have been catered for yaoi fans of all varieties. Most of the humor is found in the reactions other characters have to Yuri and his behavior: Wolfram and Gunter seem to serve as the main comic relief with their antics and jealousy.

However, this is a generally lighthearted series with a few dark moments and it reminds me strangely of Yu Yu Hakusho with the whole demon-transformation-thing and the traveling-to-other-worlds-thing. I wouldn’t write this off as useless yaoi trash in any way and the series has the potential to please anyone who enjoys simple stories with large doses of good-nature thrown into the mix.

Altogether, this series is like a lemon sorbet: surprisingly tangy with a nice flavor, but not terribly filling. It’s a pleasant reading experience, but it’s no full-course meal.

How Yuri “proposed” to Wolfram. Note: this is probably what the fangirls will do to me after reading my review.

I regret reading this series immediately after reading Rasetsu. Kyo Kara Maoh! has a meandering plot that doesn’t seem to be headed in any sort of strong direction. It’s a pleasant read, though insubstantial.

My other regret is that this was a Tokyopop title, so when Tokyopop went under they weren’t able to finish publishing this series. Volume 7 out of 9 was the last one released and it saddens me to think I have no legitimate way to pursue the next two volumes (yet).

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  • toyNN November 7, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    I’ve got the anime for this on my shelf – just haven’t ever gotten around to watching and I should. Though I learned we actually don’t have all the episodes since season 3 came out a couple of years ago and didn’t get licensed.

    • Tempest Wind November 7, 2011 at 8:33 PM

      To be honest, I thought the anime was a little too slow. My friend has the whole series and I remember watching several episodes and thinking, “GET TO THE POINT ALREADY.” The manga, thankfully, gets very quickly to the point.

      It’s adapted from a novel, and I’m curious to read the novel sometime.

  • Quostin November 11, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    I don’t really the Yaoi label shouldn’t be tagged on it though. Wolfram might have yaoi label on him, but that’s about it. Yuuri (Yes) doesn’t seem to think that way. Gunter is just very protective and admires Yuuri, which I wouldn’t classify as Yaoi. The show itself shouldn’t be labeled with a Yaoi tag since it’s only one character out of hundreds. There more males in the series, but the females are probably the most interesting characters in the series.

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