If you're in need of a harem where the main character's surrounded by the Valkyries of the Norse mythos, Val x Love might be your title.
Title: Val x Love (Ikusa x Koi)
Genre: Ecchi, Harem, Fantasy, Supernatural
Publisher: Square Enix (JP), Yen Press (US)
Creator: Ryosuke Asakura
Serialized in: Shonen Gangan
Translation: Ko Ransom
Release Date: January 30th, 2018
Review copy was provided by Yen Press.
Manga can do what seems to be almost inconceivable. It can take the story of Norse mythology, bring forth Odin and the Valkyries, and turn it into a harem staring a dude who has a fear of human contact.
… Did I mention this dude’s face looks like a demon? No? Well, now I have!
Val x Love by Ryosuke Asakura tells the story of 10 people — nine Valkyries and one human named Takuma Akutsu. Due to everyone either fearing him or wanting to fight him because of his scary persona growing up, Takuma has an innate fear of other people. With the house to himself after his mom died, he only wants to study and live alone. His problem is he ended up saving one of the Valkyries one day from a demon, which got the god Odin to tell him that Earth is in trouble. The only way to save it is the power of love, and that involves the nine Valkyries who have taken residence in his house.
Cue typical shounen hijinks when a guy is surrounded by a harem.
Val x Love does some things differently from others of its ilk — Takuma’s scary expressions is one for example. From simply trying to study while sitting down in public and scaring two people to being bound by the student council president that’s trying to
seduce help him get over his fear of contact, Takuma’s facial designs are hilarious. This at least helps hide the fact that, outside of that gimmick, he’s still your typical harem lead. Well, that and he’s oblivious to certain things?
The personalities of the Saotome family are a help as well. For example, Natsuki seems pure publicly, but then you discover her fiery, if a bit airheaded at times, personality. You could almost say the same for Itsuyo, except she makes no bones that she wants to bed Takuma, though for dubious reasons. Mutsumi is hard to tell because of her shyness and the volume’s length, but in the classic harem situation where the male lead finds himself in a bad spot in the bath, her expression when she knocked Takuma away from her was interesting. In all, the girls shown seem confident and in control, though Asakura finds many ways to get them naked.
And well, they kinda have to take control. Demons are essentially invading Earth, and Takuma’s just a human. He only serves one purpose — to “flirt” with them so they can level up and change into their Valkyrie forms. You do have to wonder why this is happening, and this volume doesn’t get into that yet. For now, it explains what the Valkyries do, and we get to see them destroy demons fairly quickly. I imagine we will know soon, but for now Takuma has to handle living with nine girls in his house. He’s not handling it all that well right now.
The art is pretty good. The designs of the Valkyrie forms of Natsuki and Itsuyo aren’t too bad, and Asakura is definitely drawing everything in every possible angle, from the characters flirting with each other to the battles with the demons. I think overall the fights are fine, but it preys a bit on the ecchi angle that can be a bit much, and I can only imagine it’ll get more suggestive as the series goes on. Val x Love can totally go into the standard harem battle manga, but it could also choose to be dark. It will at least be interesting to see where it will go from there.