Story & Art by Kamome Shirahama
Translated by Caleb D. Cook
Lettered by Abigail Blackman
The cacophonous modern world of Eniale & Dewiela couldn’t be more different in tone and setting than the wondrous mystical world of Witch Hat Atelier, but they both share one key strength; Kamome Shirahama’s gorgeous artwork. Her art always exudes beauty in her meticulously detailed designs, and while Eniale & Dewiela lacks its successful successor’s breathtaking depictions of magic, it makes up for it with stunning layouts and a ton of style. There are two-page spreads that resemble classic murals, modified with a humorous twist or context. There are pages that play with the format of comics themselves, like showcasing Eniale and Dewiela in different outfits through a clever arrangement of different boxes. The boxes are of various shapes stacked on top of each other on a single page, making use of the different dimensions to present different poses for the characters to fit in the space in an interesting way. She employs clever aesthetic tricks, like a fantastic panel wherein Eniale and Dewiela make their entrance by peeling up a poster on a wall and emerging from inside of a mirror respectively. There are so many beautifully creative layouts and mesmerizing illustrations in the series, and the combination of her illustrative and comics-crafting skills makes this manga a visual tour-de-force.
Shirahama also takes inspiration from various sources of angelic and demonic iconography and modernizes it with a hip sense of fashion. While borrowing classic design fixtures like wings or forked tails, the angels and humanoid devils are all dressed in dapper and prim suits and dresses, excluding a slick stylish coolness in their looks. This is best evident in the second chapter where we get a couple of pages dedicated to Eniale and Dewiela dressing up in different outfits, all lovingly creative and detailed, showcasing Shirahama’s love for clothes. To quote Eniale; “of all the aspects created by humans, fashion is among the greatest and loveliest;” if nothing else, this manga provides Shirahama a fantastic outlet to draw her sexy angel and devil characters in enviably stylish outfits. Though she clearly has a ton of fun with her monster designs too, also borrowing from various demonological texts for inspiration to come up with animal-humanoid hybrid creatures that can waft between goofy and badass depending on the context. Shirahama’s character designs are top-notch, and her ability to make them look cool and sexy, and goofy and ridiculous, gives her characters a ton of extra personality and really fleshes out her world into something uniquely her own.
Lest you think such an artful comic would be in service of a thoughtfully mature story akin to Shirahama’s Witch Hat, Eniale & Dewiela is more like a shitpost of ridiculously over-the-top slapstick shenanigans. Name another manga that has God having a love child with a pigeon he found attractive as a plot point? Shirahama takes inspiration from various sources of lore about angels and demons, heaven and the afterlife, and crafts a humorous satire belittling the divine as dysfunctionally aloof. Every chapter finds our protagonists start off with a simple mission like finding the parents of a lost baby or having a fashion trip in Paris, and through the characters’ unadulterated ambitiousness everything always escalates to become an apocalyptic global-scale crisis by the end. Even when they are borrowing from classic tropes, the sheer unpredictability and escalating stakes make every story an uproaring hilarious surprise.
Our titular protagonists, Eniale and Dewiela, are a classic odd couple with them being an angel and devil respectively. They simultaneously share a cartoonish rivalry of comedic one-upmanship while also being tight-knit gal pals. A chapter that begins with them throwing concrete debris at each other over using the other’s makeup leads to them working together to help return a lost baby to its parent; their tempestuous friendship moves stories in dynamic directions. They can bond over similar interests in fashion and luxurious comforts, but have different philosophies when it comes to valuing other people’s lives. Eniale genuinely cares about helping people in need and is willing to get creative to bring them true happiness, whereas Dewiela is more flippantly self-centered and only interested in her own reward. Dewiela’s selfishness is tempered only by her compassion for Eniale, giving her friend a helping hand or advice when she sees she really needs it. In turn, Eniale is also protective of her friend, sticking up for her when she is attacked by a zealous exorcist. Eniale’s compassion for people, including Dewiela, and the complex friendship of the two leads help give the manga a heart and sincere sweetness that may otherwise be lost in its raucous comedic mayhem.
Interestingly, Eniale and Dewiela are questioned multiple times why they associate with one another by their respective factions, especially since Dewiela is considered a high-ranking demon that may destroy the world. Nevertheless, it’s clear that though they may often get on each other’s nerves or are at odds sometimes, they hang out together because they love each other. They see past their differences and understand one another for who they really are, and that mutual respect and empathy is the crux of their relationship. It’s fun and fascinating to see them play off of one another in comedic contexts, but their compassion for one another and friendship in spite of their conflicts is what makes them truly compelling protagonists.
There’ve been many stories about angels and devils becoming friends, but Eniale & Dewiela mashes up Kamome Shirahama’s godly artwork and devilish sense of humor in a unique story that only she could imagine. It’s a silly but sincere satire of angel and devil myths and tropes, making fun of traditional concepts like naked angels while reaffirming the power in keeping faith in miracles. Shirahama’s sense of humor has been lovingly localized by the excellent team at Yen Press, and particular kudos should be given to translator Caleb Cook for his clever turns of phrases, like Dewiela’s comment about Charon “living out in the Styx.” Shirahama has earned much acclaim for Witch Hat Atelier, which is considered one of the best comics being published right now. While Eniale & Dewiela is a somewhat sillier and slighter story, awe-inspiring illustrations and imagination still astound, and it serves as another example of her incredible mastery of the medium. I’m in heaven whenever I read one of Kamome Shirahama’s manga, and Eniale & Dewiela is a hell of a good time!