- Paperback: 220 pages
- Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing (December 29, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1569701458
- ISBN-13: 978-1569701454
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,548,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Yashakiden: The Demon Princess Volume 1 (Novel) Paperback – December 29, 2009
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But rules are all too often broken, usually by creatures who creep across from the metaphysical chasm. Other times, the supernatural also fall prey to illness. Times like these, there are really only two people to call upon: the otherworldly Dr Mephisto and senbei (rice cracker) baker come private eye, Aki Setsura. These two are the chemo to thwart the cancers that invade their city, but at what price? It doesn't matter, for when a ghostly koto plays its haunting melody, bringing forth a river carrying an ancient ship, everyone takes notice. This is no run of the mill demon encounter; this is something that forebodes something even worse. It is bad indeed, as an ancient sorceress and vampire 4000 years in the making has come to claim her throne, with the dust of the current Demon Shinjuku vampire leader and the bodies of all who oppose her beneath her feet. With people in key positions being added to her following of the undead, it is obvious something must be done, but is the treatment going to be effective, or have Setsura and Mephisto met their match?
Hideyuki Kikuchi is perhaps best known amongst manga and animé fans as the creator of Hideyuki Kikuchi's Vampire Hunter D Manga Volume 1 (Vampire Hunter D Graphic Novel) (v. 1). He says this is seminal work, and his favourite vampire novel. But how does it stack up? Well, truthfully, I read his preface first, and he plunges straight in about demon Shinjuku as if it were a real place he was talking about, and it was slightly confusing as I was unprepared for that. It all became clear however as I read the novel, so perhaps this should have been an afterwards section rather than a preface, as it shed light on the topic but only made a lot of sense once you had read a good bit of the story. The storytelling is a little uneven at first as well, but not hard to follow, and it is understandable s Kikuchi is building a completely new world and having to find his own way through it himself.
The two protagonists, Setsura and Mephisto, are intriguing. They are not super nice guys high in morals out to save the world. Rather, they do what they do for money and to keep the status quo in place for their own benefit (and that of their customers). Their extreme good looks and abilities set them apart from the norm as well, begging the question as to just who, and what, they actually are. There is an undercurrent of something unpalatable hidden just out of view, and it reeks faintly of evil, or at least, the darker demonic side. This doesn't make them unpleasant presences to the reader however, as they have a seductive quality to them that fairly has the reader hooked by their charisma. Indeed, this seems to be one of the pitfalls of meeting this pair unawares, as they fairly glamour nearly any human who approaches them.
It is quite a violent tale, as one would expect with demons and vampires, and it is also rather heavy in explicit sexual content. Some of it seems to fit the plot quite well, but at other times, the sexual overtones seemed to almost be there for shock value and threw the story a little off stride. Be aware that this is a prose novel, with only a few full page illustrations, so the descriptions are far more graphic than what would be seen in a drawing where a bit of ambiguity might rein. Due to this and the overall level of violence, I would only recommend this to the 18 and over crowd, despite DMP's own rating of 16 and up. I am far from a prude but some of the scenes made me go O.o
The art that is provides was drawn by Jun Suemi and it is lovely to behold. The stark imagery fits in well with the forthright prose, and is dissimilar enough from what we have experienced with Vampire Hunter D, Vol. 1that it quite distinguishes it. In addition to the scene illustrations, there is a map of Demon Shinjuku presented, making it simple to flick back and see where in the city things have occurred and put it all into perspective.
The translation from the Japanese is credited to one Eugene Woodbury. The sentences flow well, but are choppy in places. Having read other of Kikuchi's works I can see it is not a fault of Woodbury's, but an element of style peculiar to Kikuchi himself as he tends to run pell mell with his story telling. Given the specialist vocabulary and intricacies of the Japanese language, I would like to extend a note of appareciation for his efforts as Kikuchi's "voice" was not lost. I am certain translating 220 pages of prose was a monumental task, and it is one he seems to have performed well. Overall, a worthwhile read for adult fans of demons and vampires.
***I would like to thank DMP for kindly providing me with a review copy***
Princess is beautiful, seductive, & sadistically twisted. She has had 4,000 years to practice her tortures and her own minions are as likely to be on the receiving end as her foes or innocent bystanders. At her side is the ambitious magician Kikiou who has planned this war on Shinjuku, & Princess's vampire minions/victims Shuuran & Ryuuki. General Ryuuki in particular is a rather tragic figure, resurrected many times after managing to die so Princess can continue his torment.
Protecting the Demon City is Mayor Kajiwara, the Czech Republic's most powerful witch Galeen Nuvenberg aided by her doll & her raven, the Toyama vampires with their powerful Elder, Shinjuku's beautiful manhunter Setsura Aki with his titanium wires, & the city's most skilled & beautiful hospital director Dr Mephisto.
Difficult to put down, a struggle not to peek ahead, this is more Stoker's Dracula than Twilight. Presumably Setsura & Mephisto will defeat the Princess, but then again, she is an incredibly powerful seductress who has toppled many dynasties (Emperor Zhou & Emperor Jie to name 2) just because she could. Having just finished Volume 3, I cannot swear the good guys will win, but I am cheering for them. This is a mature story with a fair amount of violence, gore & sex, but it is always appropriate for the characters involved & never gratuitous.