Hit the “Random” button and see what comes up! In this feature, we take a look at whatever manga the Random Number God decides to throw at us and find out if it’s worth your time.
This time: Shina Dark, with art by Yukari Higa and scenario by Bunjuro Nakayama
You’ve seen the story a million times: the planets have aligned and the solar eclipse has broken the seal on the Demon Lord Exoda’s prison. His personal island and all his servants have risen out of the sea, and now it’s up to the legendary heroes to stop him. Until they appear, the nations of the world have decided to appease the villain and buy time by sending him 1000 virgins as a sacrifice. But, as is a common subversion lately, Exoda turns out to be a decent guy who’s only interested in living in peace on his island, and definitely not while surrounded by women. Except now his property is populated by ladies, most of which who refuse to leave for one reason or another. What’s a Demon Lord to do?
Thankfully, while in almost any other manga this would lead to an immediate harem scenario (and while there are still shades of that throughout the manga), Shina Dark quickly changes focus. Realizing all of these women no longer have homes to go back to, Exoda declares the island of Shina Dark to be its own sovereign nation, led by two women in particular: Gallet and Christina, both princesses abandoned by their nations and sent to be sacrifices. They become the new viewpoint characters, with Exoda taking a backseat to the action and helping them rise to their new stations from behind the scenes.
Alas, while this sounds interesting and different (and is, in a way), Shina Dark still wrestles with a few dumb problems. There’s a ridiculous amount of unnecessary fanservice, for one. Almost every chapter involves the two female leads naked in some way, often with Exoda walking in on them in the bath or something. Most of the back half of the manga is spent fighting the same monster (for an inadequately explained reason, at that), complete with RPG references to hit points and damage values – it gets tiresome rather quickly.
Also worth nothing is that Shina Dark was apparently cancelled, or at least otherwise cut short. The series ends with a Part 1 title card, hinting at the return of the Legendary Heroes who are destined to defeat the Demon Lord, just as the most pressing issues between the two princesses have been addressed. It ran from 2006 to 2009, and apart from a series of music videos (be careful, nsfw) released with the final volume, doesn’t seem to be getting much in the way of adaptations or continuations.
Verdict: Shining in the darkness
Well, I may be overstating this manga’s quality with that verdict, but I was pleasantly surprised when I read it. Batoto’s written premise doesn’t do Shina Dark any favors, making me expect something trashy, but it turned out to be a decent fantasy tale. A pity it was cancelled, but that’s the world of manga for ya. Still, it’s always a good idea to share the love and such, and Shina Dark is more deserving of your time than a lot of other manga we’ve covered here.