From our guest reviewer Becky Unicorn!
Long before the start of the series, an event called “the Devil Quake” happened to the city of Shinjuku. The aftermath left the city damaged but forever changed into a city where supernatural events occurred, becoming a refuge for unusual people and creatures, a place that has literally become a law unto itself.
Yashakiden is a series of five books (the last book is being released in English this month) written by Hideyuki Kikuchi, a Japanese author that is best known for the series “Vampire Hunter D”, which is also available in English.
The series is a mix of supernatural horror and science; they are adult, containing violence and sexual scenes.
The plot of the story is about the arrival of four powerful beings to the Demon City, among these new arrivals is one called the Demon Princess, a vampire of unparalleled beauty that is determined to make the city her own for reasons yet unknown.
Their arrival is noticed by two people, a man called Setsura Aki and another called Doctor Mephisto, who is also known as the Demon Physician. These two main characters are clearly shown from the beginning as being more than human; they are inhumanly beautiful and have strange talents of their own.
The novels consist of the Demon Princess and her companions’ attempt to seize control the city and their attempts to stop her. As the novels progress, the city is brought more and more under her influence, drawing resistance both from within the city and outside it.
Hideyuki Kikuchi’s writing style (and the hard work of the translators) is really easy to sink into. His descriptions can be nearly poetic in places and when it comes to the worlds he creates he has plenty of imagination.
“Had the voice belonged to a statue, then its sculptor must have given up his soul to carve something so beautiful. A corner of his white cape was draped over his right hand, which contained all the powers of the demon world.” – Yashakiden volume1, a description of Doctor Mephisto.
The novels also contain illustrations by Jun Susmi. The line drawings are quite detailed. They have a nice style, which I think fits the style and mood of the books.
The vampires of Yashakiden are not like the vampires of Twilight or of Anne Rice, the Demon Princess doesn’t want to live alongside humans while hiding her true nature nor does she lament what she is. She views humans as creatures beneath her notice and is perfectly happy with killing those who stand in her way.
“Her eyes glittered. Her fangs scraped against her teeth. “Here.” She beckoned with her hand. “Come here. I’ll show you the most wonderful dreams. Dreams nobody else has ever seen. No need to eat anything against your liking. No need to make the beast with two backs. You need only drink from the spring of life and live forever.” – Yashakiden volume 3
Her companions are also interesting in their own light; they have their own agendas at times and each have their own abilities and powers which are used against the main characters. This varies from illusions, traps, seduction, ancient magic and creatures from myths and legends.
Fight scenes are described quite vividly and there are also modern weapons used in several scenes against the supernatural.
The main protagonists Setsura and Mephisto are not without abilities of their own. The relationship between the two characters is a strange friendship, they are willing to work together and from the outset it indicates they share a history, yet there is a sense of competition between them.
Setsura seems by nature to be kind-hearted and fairly laid back even in the face of danger, but he does have serious moments that have all the more impact due to how he acts most of the time.
Mephisto is an excellent contrast; he has an almost icy personality at times, cool and analytical. He can seem nearly inhuman as his morals tend to revolve around knowledge that can be used with regard to healing (such as examining something dangerous in order to figure out how to cure it) and removing things that are threats to said patients.
Summary: Yashakiden is a gripping read with a variety of villains and heroes with interesting techniques of their own. The writing is solid and never boring, although it does contain many adult elements.
The novels vary in page count (the first two are nearly 280 pages, the following two double the size), but never drag.
I highly recommend them. I have currently only read up to book 3 and am currently reading book4 inpreparation for the final volume.
For those who are unsure whether this series will suit their tastes, the website http://www.dmpbooks.com/books/641/ has a sample of the first book available to read.
If you like the above series by Hideyuki Kikuchi, others I recommend are;
* Demon City Shinjuku (a novel that starts before the events of Yashakiden – but its standalone and it’s not necessary to read it before Yashakiden)
* Vampire Hunter D series (at least 20 novels have been written, with up to 17 in English to date)
* A Wind Named Amnesia
* The Wicked City series