Cover art from the first volume of the French edition of the Shadow Lady manga
|Genre||Magical girl, Kaitō|
|Written by||Masakazu Katsura|
|English publisher||Dark Horse Comics|
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen Jump|
|Original run||1992 – 1997|
Shadow Lady (シャドウレディ Shadō Redi?) is a manga series written and illustrated by Masakazu Katsura. It was canceled partway through its run, resulting in the severe compression of a new story arc and a finale.
Shadow Lady takes place in the fictional city of Gray City, around a girl named Aimi Komori. She leads an ordinary, unassuming life as a waitress in a cafe until a small oni (De-mo) attacks her in an alley. Oddly, it brushes eyeshadow on her, transforming her into the daring, flirtatious cat burglar "Shadow Lady". To remain on Earth undetected, De-mo takes a human form and they pass him off as her little brother.
Shadow Lady's crimes befuddle the Gray City police, and a detective named Bright Honda takes it upon himself to discover Shadow Lady's true identity. Bright is also an inventor, and uses his inventions to try to apprehend Shadow Lady, but like the regular police's efforts, he too fails continuously.
The final story arc centers around Demon Police coming to take De-Mo back to the Demon World and execute him, for the crime of giving the magic eyeshadow to a human. In an effort to spare De-Mo's life, Aimi agrees to use her powers as Shadow Lady to retrieve three Demon Stones hidden in the Human World. This arc is heavily compressed into a rushed final battle.
Aimi/Shadow Lady: The title character/protagonist of the series. Aimi is a mild-mannered, quiet, and shy girl who works as a waitress in Gray City. At night, however, Aimi puts on magic eyeshadow and becomes Shadow Lady, an energetic, flirtatious, and flamboyant cat burglar, and wreaks havoc on Gray City through various acts of burglary, as well as thwarting the police department's attempts to capture her. She has a crush on Bright Honda, which causes her to become very conflicted when she learns that he's in love with Shadow Lady.
De-Mo: A being from the Demon World who created the magic eyeshadow, the source of Shadow Lady's powers. De-Mo left the Demon World on a whim to see if a human could find any use for the magic eyeshadow that he makes, which had become very unpopular in the Demon World. His reason for giving it to Aimi was that she was the first human he came into contact with after arriving on in the Human World. He also is very knowledgeable about the Demon World, and fairly inventive, making numerous gadgets to aid Shadow Lady. He has a perverted streak in him as well. He lives with Aimi, fulfilling the role of a sidekick, and disguises himself as her younger brother.
Bright Honda: A detective with the Gray City Police Department. He has a knack for invention, and tries to incorporate his inventions into his police work (albeit fairly ineptly on most occasions). He also is obsessed with discovering Shadow Lady's secret identity, though his reasons for doing so change throughout the course of the series. At first, it appears that his intention in doing is purely to reform her (and use her powers for just causes, as opposed to mischief-making), but in a confrontation in the finale story arc, he alleges that he pursues her because he is in love with her. Before his obsession with Shadow Lady, however, Bright pursued inventing for recreation, and even put on demonstration shows for local children with Lime as a partner and fellow inventor.
Lime Hosokawa/Spark Girl: Bright's former inventing partner. During their time together, she also developed a crush on him that he did not reciprocate. An inventor herself, she invents a costume and various gadgets in order to become Spark Girl. As Spark Girl, she attempts to reveal Shadow Lady's secret identity as part of a plot to steal her powers to use them for good, as Bright wanted. Unfortunately, she is thwarted and humiliated by her fight with Shadow Lady. How she came into knowledge about how to reverse Shadow Lady's transformation however, is unclear.
Inspector Dory: An Inspector at the Gray City Police Department. Throughout the series, he actively pursues Shadow Lady, but never succeeds in catching her. The plans he uses as the series moves forward become progressively more ridiculous until the final story arc.
Powers and abilities
Shadow Lady's powers are derived from magic eyeshadow made by De-Mo. The standard color gives her a revealing costume (consisting of a revealing short black skirt, stockings, boots, long gloves and small wings), enhanced strength and agility, and feelings of immense elation and arousal. If the costume becomes extensively damaged she can spontaneously "freshen up" and cause it to rearrange itself on a molecular level to recover her. The small wings on her back don't allow her to fly or glide, but make her lighter on her feet, allowing for faster movement. She also has several other eyeshadow colors called "Expert Changes". These grant Shadow Lady extra abilities and enhancements, such as claws and other cat like abilities (Crimson Cat), bird wings that enable her to fly (Sapphire Bird), and super-speed and heightened jumping abilities (Saffron Bunny). In the final story arc however, Aimi's compact is destroyed, and the Expert Changes are lost.
Anything that removes the eyeshadow (such as wiping or washing it off) will immediately reverse the transformation. Exposing the costume to water causes a very violent reaction which weakens her until the costume finally breaks down and reverses the transformation completely.
Another World (alternate universe)
Though the story's canon alleges that Aimi first became Shadow Lady when De-Mo cornered her and put the magic eyeshadow on her, Katsura also published a one-shot comic offering an alternate story as to how Aimi first became Shadow Lady. This alternate story is comparable to stereotypical "magical girl" plots like Sailor Moon.
In "Another World", Aimi is an eighteen-year-old, shy, and physically inept high school student with low self-esteem, who also has a crush on Bright Honda, a transfer student. In order to give her a confidence boost (and to let her have some fun), Aimi's grandmother gives her the magic eyeshadow (which was a family heirloom), and Aimi transforms into Shadow Lady. To keep an eye on her, Aimi's grandmother also sprinkles some magic dust on one of Aimi's stuffed dolls and temporarily brings it to life as De-Mo, who acts as her sidekick in her brief misadventures. Though at first she is interested in mischief-making, Aimi/Shadow Lady eventually thwarts a jewel thief, which causes Bright to fall in love with Shadow Lady (much to Aimi's dismay) by the end of the comic.
The costume that Aimi dons as part of her transformation in "Another World" is not the same as what she dons in the main series. Instead of a short black skirt, the costume is the Saffron Bunny Shadow Expert Change. Also, instead of needing to remove the eyeshadow to reverse the transformation, it reverses itself on its own after a certain amount of time elapses.