Manhwa / Soul Cartel
follows Si-un Cha, a young Korean boy who is able to see the spirits of the dead. He is taken care of by his older sister, and comes from a family of powerful mediums and exorcists. Sadly, Si-un Cha himself is lacking in any spiritual abilities whatsoever aside from his ability to see spirits. Despite this, he tries to help his sister catch weaker wayward ghosts. When chasing after one of these ghosts, he runs into a very powerful demon.
The demon claims to be the
Mephistopheles, who wants Si-un Cha to teach him of the modern human world and bring him books about his exploits. He states that if Si-un Cha tries to run away, he's done for. Si-un Cha does have the common sense to consult his sister (without revealing that he's actually caught
a powerful demon's attention), but he quickly learns that even his sister would be no match for Mephisto. After Mephisto finishes a copy of Faust
he reveals that he came to earth because Faust has been reincarnated. The real
story of Faust was that Faust was an arrogant human who'd claimed that he would not be corrupted by Mephisto's temptations, so they'd entered a contractual wager, with God acting as the judge. However, God had unfairly intervened at the last moment and cost Mephisto his victory.
Mephisto does in fact find the reincarnated Faust: He's now a Teen Genius
, Damian Lia, with his memories left intact and of about Si-un Cha's age. Faust states that he'll enter a rematch with Mephisto. This time the bet is if Faust can get Mephisto to become a kinder devil within the Underworld, it's his win. The catch? Mephisto thinks that he'll be cheated again if God is the judge, so he appoints Si-Un Cha to act as one!
Tropes associated with the Soul Cartel manhwa
- A boy and his super-deformed demon.
- Always Lawful Good: Every Angel seen so far has been unambiguously good. The only only exceptions were two Asraels who were searching for Mephisto. That is, two angels who wanted to keep a very powerful and potentially violent demon out of the human world. Uriel is the first exception we see, having sided with the Plutos and becoming a Fallen Angel.
- Anime Catholicism
- Bad Ass Long Coat: All Azraels wear long, white, hooded coats.
- Big Damn Heroes: Mephisto in chapter 55.
- Bishounen: Damian/Faust, and Michael. Also Mephisto when he stops holding back.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Mephisto has this in regards to his appearance. He thinks his small and short form is cool, and calls it a "Devil's aesthetics." Even the angel in their group is confused by it.
- Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: Ddeokbokki, also known as spicy rice cakes, a super-spicy Korean dish. And Mephisto loves it!
- Burn the Witch!: This is how witches execute members of their clan who commit unforgivable crimes.
- Chivalrous Pervert: One of the ghosts takes quite a liking to Su-in for her beauty and figure, so he follows her around on exorcisms and helps her out.
- Curtains Match the Window: All witches have both purple hair and eyes.
- Cute Little Fangs: Mephisto.
- Cute Witch: Airen.
- Five-Man Band:
- Genre Savvy: Si-un knows how ghosts and demons try to trick people, knows when he's in a fight he's outmatched in, and has the common sense to consult his sister after he's gotten Mephisto's attention.
- Guile Hero: Faust shows shades of this, convincing Mephisto that the best thing to do in his favor would be to fight the Azraels in the Underworld in order to prevent any collateral damage befalling the physical one.
- Hot Witch: Higher-ranking witches look like young, attractive women with purple eyes and hair.
- I Got Bigger: After the six-month timeskip while undergoing Training from Hell, Shi-Un goes from somewhat scrawny and useless kid who can barely keep himself alive in a fight to being a broad-shouldered badass the same height as his sister and Faust who can defeat a Pluto, a demon who survived fights with all four Archdevils and Archangels.
- I Just Want to Be Special: Shi-un isn't very happy about not being able to fight spirits. This gets remedied halfway through the series.
- Last of His Kind: At frist Gilgath turned out to be the only surviving Vampire, Valtje, who later managed to resurrect his brother Cheshua. Valtje then sacrificed himself to defeat the Pluto Kalnas, the one responsible for nearly wiping out the vampires, making Cheshua this.
- Living MacGuffin: Faust, Si-un and Su-in are unfathomably valuable to demons because of their young human bodies. In Faust's case, they don't even have a number big enough for him.
- The Load: Si-Un's status as this is lampshahded here.
- Subverted spectacularly later on when Si-un turns into the third most powerful member of the group, surpassing his sister and the friends they made in the underworld.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Some of the angels, Michael especially, and Mephisto is a rather cartoony version until he stops holding back, then he becomes a much straighter example.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: It turns out that Bermut, one of the most powerful Plutos is Si-un and Soo-in's father, who was forced to work for the Plutos in exchange for his wife's safety.
- Purple Eyes: Every witch seen so far. The only acceptation is the Supreme Witch after she reveals the fact that she's turned herself into a witch/demon hybrid.
- Megaton Punch: Mephisto unintentionally does this to Si-un's punching bag and sends it flying into a mountain a few miles away.
- Oh Crap!: Si-Un has this reaction when Mephisto claims that he'll be his next target after he's done with Faust.
- One-Gender Race: The Witches, who are all purple-haired, purple-eyed women. They don't reproduce sexually, but by magically splitting their life forces to create new witches, which has about a three-in-ten chance of death for the witches participating.
- Palette Swap: All of the archdevils strongly resemble Mephisto (both forms), but with different color schemes. For instance, while Mephisto is red and black, Beelzebub is blue and black.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Vampires were a race on par with the Archdevils before some of the Plutos banded together and wiped them out. Gilgath (later turning out to really be named Valtje Aldmedihar) was one of their only surviving members, pretending to be a demon who wanted to become a Pluto in order to recover the body parts of some of his brethren and restoring their people's glory. As it stands, only two of them are alive and helping out Si-Un's group, with one of them (Cheshua Amedihar) masquerading as Xearheart. Later on Valtje sacrifices himself, making Cheshua the only surviving Vampire.
- Promoted To Parent: Su-in Cha, Si-un's older sister, took this role after their parents' passing.
- Shout-Out: The translators do this upon finding out about one of Faust's Xanatos Gambits.
- Show Their Work: Unlike most uses of Faust (which rely on the Common Knowledge version), the author's description of what happened in the past between Faust and Mephisto is fairly accurate to Goethe's version; in particular, Mephisto's accusation that God 'cheated' in the contest reflects the way that Faust was saved at the end of Goethe's Faust despite Mephistopheles apparently winning the bet.
- Super-Deformed: Mephisto
- Took a Level in Badass: Shi-un becomes one of the team's strongest fighters later on, even surpassing his sister and later going toe to toe with Mephisto!
- Trademark Favorite Food: Ddeokbokki for Mephisto.
- We Can Rule Together: While Gilgath, the demon sent to capture Si-un and co, states that he cannot save their bodies from being stolen, he can protect their souls and ensure that they have the choice of being reincarnated into either Azrael's or Devils if Si-un hands himself over willingly. He even adds that if Si-un chooses to be reincarnated as a devil, he'll take him on as his student because of how talented he is.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Faust is an expert player, as the Supreme Witch realizes. She lampshades his skill by being one of the few characters in the history of anime and manga to acknowledge the possibility of small setbacks and unforeseen factors that can derail such intricately thought-out plans. The scene is meant to display Faust's genius, because no normal being, be they witch, devil, or angel, can account for such possibilities.