Hidden Gems – Manga Reviews Shina Dark

Shina Dark is a Japanese fantasy and comedy manga series written by Bunjūrō Nakayama and drawn by Yukari Higa. The manga originally started serialized in ASCII Media Works’ seinen manga magazine Dengeki Teioh on January 26, 2006, and ran in that magazine until November 2006 when it went on hiatus until starting up again in ASCII Media Works’ shōnen manga magazine Dengeki Daioh in April 2007. The manga ended serialization in Dengeki Daioh in the March 2009 issue. Four bound volumes were released by ASCII Media Works. A DVD containing four animated music video clips was bundled with the third manga volume, produced by the animation studio Shaft.

This manga has a special place in my library, as it is one of the very first manga I have ever read. It was probably back in 2007 or so, back when I was still in the midst of discovering what the Internet can actually do. Earlier than that, I used to just look up images or visit the Pokemon website. Anywho, I was aware of the big titles such as Naruto, One Piece and Bleach. However, I didn’t want to just jump on the bandwagon, so I avoided the titles and looked up the less popular ones. Shina Dark is one of those titles I discovers.

Shina Dark revolves around a dark lord named Exoda or Satan. He is pretty much a happy go lucky demon lord who lives on the island Shina Dark, along with his minions including, but not limited to: a butler, a maid doll, the Minions before there were Minions and a ninja that constantly hides in the background. Having awoken from his slumber, Exoda discovers that his island has been overrun by various women who were sent as tribute to him. Apparently, the world keeps making up legends and stories about him and tribute of women is the newest one. The three main princesses that accompany him are Marple, Christina and Galett. Again, it doesn’t have much of a plot, as it revolves mainly around the daily lives of these characters and the struggles that they go through. Although comedy, what makes this interesting is that it’s not always gags and laughs. We get a number of serious moments from the princesses and various side characters who have been sent to Shina Dark and are unable to return, for the world assumed that anyone who steps on the island is cursed. We also get to see a bit of backstory behind Christina and Galett and how their lives were actually a bit worse in their homes. It’s actually one chapter dedicated to each, but it works as it shows that Shina Dark, home of the demon lord, is actually much better than any of the human kingdoms, where pretty much everyone is a superstitious asshole. This may come out as a bit of a spoiler, but I got to tell it. This manga is open-ended. There isn’t really any true conclusion to things, despite the bit of foreshadowing in some chapters. It just pretty much ended at a happy scene, telling how they’ll continue to live on Shina Dark. If I had to make a complaint, it would be the ending. I honestly wish this series continued, but it is complete.

Some of the characters. Exoda, the doll maid, Garett (red hair) and Christina (Blonde)
Some of the characters. Exoda, the doll maid, Garett (red hair) and Christina (Blonde)

As for the art, it’s okay. You’ll actually recognize the artist as the illustrator of Zero No Tsukaima Chevalier and Mahou Senki Lyrical Nanoha Force. While not as striking or stylized, or even realistic, like other Seinen manga, it does help create the peaceful atmosphere to what is supposedly a kingdom of terror. It has a sort of Clannad effect, in which everything looks pretty happy and nice, but as soon as something serious comes along, you are hit with the reality that many of them are or were actually unhappy with their lives and were actually terribly depressed with the circumstances forced upon them. It kinda eats on your emotions and makes you go “Wow, I kind of forgot that they’re going through crap.”

You'd be surprised how dark this series can get in Christina and Galett's BG chapter.
You’d be surprised how dark this series can get in Christina and Galett’s BG chapter.

Well, perhaps it may just be a biased opinion, but I recommend reading Shina Dark for light reading. I will also admit that it is also an ecchi manga, so you can expect a few fan service shots. One last thing I’d like to point out is that it has a music video you can find in Youtube. If you’re not certain on reading the entire thing, then I suggest to look at the video and judge for yourself. It is pretty good and quite a decent manga and is worth the look.

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