Third year student Ayaha Kuromine stands up for a boy on the bus who had been harassed by a less-than-sober man for his seat. However, the youngster settles to peacefully resolve the situation.
The two then arrive at the Fuchiyama station. There, the boy asks the girl if she owns something that she didn't rightfully own: the aforementioned drunkard's wallet. Is Ayaha's sense of justice just a show? Not really, the truth is that she's been possessed by a fugitive spirit who had for some time now forced her into quasi-kleptomania. The youngster, Higuma, thankfully manages to exorcise the demon. And they all lived happily ever after...
... except that at home, Ayaha's micromanaging older brother has effectively established himself as a tyrant in the house (and yes, that includes frightening their parents into submission). It doesn't take long for Ayaha to put two and two together and correctly identify the real reason her once-kind older brother suddenly became such a terrifying person: he too has been possessed by a demon. The demon settles to kill her there and then, only to be interrupted by Higuma who turns out to be a Hell Warden, an agent of King Enma. Higuma then swiftly proceeds to curb-stomp the demon and free Ayaha's brother from the evil entity's control.
And this is all just the beginning. There are a lot more demons to deal with. On top of that, in spite of his cheerful facade, the frequent flashbacks to Higuma's past suggest his childhood to be anything but serene. Not by a long shot.
The manga has been officially translated with a simultaneous Japanese and English release on the official app.
Hell Warden Higuma contains examples of:
- Badass Family: The Kagarite family have fought against the fugitive spirits for generations.
- Control Freak: Ayaha's older brother became one while possessed by a fugitive spirit.
- Demonic Possession: The primary ability of the demons is this. The most obvious symptom is the change of behavior for the worse.
- Elder Abuse: The fugitive spirits are perfectly willing to go after the seniors. One even specifically targets them as they're far weaker than healthy humans, but this comes at a trade-off that the evil spirit needed to gather multiple elderly people as they each had little lifespan left.
- Escaped from Hell: The main conflict of the story is that there are too many spirits who escaped the underworld. It's up to Higuma and friends to send them back.
- Family Theme Naming: The members of the Kagarite family shown so far have been named after animals: Higuma ('Bear') and Usa ('Rabbit'). Lampshaded by Ayaha.
- For the Evulz: Averted. None of the demons is really as much relishing in making people miserable, as much as they either lash out their inner insecurities or - most commonly - simply seek to extend their freedom for as long as possible by killing humans and absorbing their lifespan.
- Grey-and-Grey Morality: Deconstructed. While the evil spirits are flat-out described as pitiful, they're nonetheless a genuine threat for completely innocent people. On the heroes' side, while the job of stopping the evil spirits is a valiant thing to do, not everyone can actually stomach the task and carry the heavy burden that comes with the duty. At times, Higuma is grimy, similar to a Child Soldier.
- It Amused Me: King Enma apparently operates this way, which is the reason why he bestowed his mark on Ayaha.
- Knight In Sour Armor: In chapter 11, Higuma admits that he sees himself as somewhere between this and a Cowardly Lion.
- Lady Looks Like a Dude: The kitsune demon is actually a woman.
- Life Drain: Literally. This is the main survival technique of the demons.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Higuma is a rare heroic example of this trope.
- Red Shirt Army: The Bunreisha are a group of people chosen by King Enma by bestowing a special mark on them. These individuals serve directly under the main protagonist Higuma.
- Stepford Smiler: Higuma; Despite his usual goofy, relaxed smile, he ultimately has deep-seated issues related to his past.
- Would Hurt a Child: The evil spirits are ready to kill even children.
- Youkai: Various demons from Japanese folklore are the basis for most of the fugitive spirits.