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Romance with Non-Human Characters!?

Taiyo Nakashima Taiyo Nakashima 05/06/2015 7 min read
Recently, manga with non-human characters have become increasingly popular! At the top of this list, there’s The Ancient Magus’ Bride by Kore Yamazaki. The magus of said title, Ellias Ainsworth, is a large imposing figure, with a head like the skull of a dinosaur. In contrast to his grotesque appearance, his manner and black coat come across as quite gentlemanly. The heroine, Chise, is a young Japanese girl who was born with the ability to see fairies and demons. Ellias, who residences in the English countryside, buys Chise at an auction, and takes her in, first as an apprentice, and later as a future bride. The title makes us think of Lord Dunsany’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, a pioneering work of fantasy literature. And Ellias, who refuses to talk about his origins, also has a “cursed by fate” kind of atmosphere, from which we can see some parallels with Beauty and the Beast. Whether or not love will be able to triumph over Ellias’ past will no doubt become central to the plot.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride

But a match between a human and a human-like creature is actually an old idea. In the 80s, there was already a manga called Urusei Yatsura by Rumiko Takahashi, which covered this territory. Urusei Yatsura was fairly lighthearted, but recent works tend to have characters who are trying to overcome the taboos of society while pursuing a romantic relationship with a non-human. Other examples include Demi-chan wa Kataritai by Petosu, where the characters all look like normal high school girls, but are in fact succubae, snow fairies, vampires etc. and Jitsu Wa Watashi Wa (Actually, I’m a…) by Eiji Masuda, a love comedy involving a demon who is concealing her identity and attending a regular school. These are done in a similar vein to Urusei Yatsura. Urusei Yatsura takes place in a Science Fiction world, where it might be considered “weird” to go out with an alien, but there’s no sense of guilt about it. On the other hand, recent works have tried to create more realistic fictional worlds, where the main characters might be doing something taboo.
mermaid prince

“The Mermaid Prince” from Comic Zenon. Mermaid stories are a classic example of human & non-human romance!

This “non-human” boom started around 2011 with Hatarake Kentauros by Est Em, and A Centaur’s Life by Kei Murayama, which were both manga featuring half-man, half-horse centaurs! After that, the great zombie craze started. At the turn of the century, zombie films became popular on a global scale, and this also resulted in an increase in zombie manga. However, zombies don’t always have to be slow-moving, deadly antagonists. There are some variations with beautiful girl zombies. So this can be considered one aspect of the non-human boom.

Hatarake Kentauros, a manga about a centaur salaryman!

At the end of the day, the classic formula for a love story is: love with an obstacle. These non-human characters, while surprising, are just striking a new vein in an old formula! Article: Kozue Aou Translator: Andrew L.   Editor’s note: Wow, some of these examples are really interesting. Who would have thought that there was a market for manga about centaurs!? *mind blown*. At first, the idea of “romance with a non-human” seemed strange to me, but after I thought about it a little, I realized that it’s actually quite common in western literature as well! In classic fantasy, there are lots of “human-like” races (elves, haflings etc.), so this kind of theme sometimes comes up. And the infamous Twilight novels are completely based on this idea (romance with vampires, werewolves etc.) It’s definitely an interesting twist for a love story!
Taiyo Nakashima

Taiyo Nakashima