Manga in Minutes: Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist, Vol. 3
Welcome to this weeks Manga in Minutes! It’s back to the single review format, as I take a look at Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist, Vol. 3, but first, some news from this past week.
- The big news of this past week was Amazon’s acquisition of Comixology. While the site is primarily known for its selection of American comics, theey also have several classic manga series from Shotaro Ishinomori for sale.
- Back at Anime Boston, Kodansha editor Ben Applegate mentioned that he thought Attack on Titan has yet to hit is peak popularity. Well, we’re about to see just how much bigger the series can get, because Attack on Titan will be airing on Toonami!
- And, of course, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week of April 5th.
On to the review!
Akamushi begins to investigate a family haunted by a demonic face that appears upon its members periodically. For payment, he claims the family’s daughter as his bride. That’s not where it gets weird though, towards the end Akamushi’s determination to protect his future bride sees him… battling bullies in high school. Hideyuki Kikuchi and Shin Yong-Gwan’s weird and wild horror series continues, with Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist, Vol. 3!
Like much of Kikuchi’s horror work, the focus is less on character development and more on the weirdness and bizarre horrors our hero encounters. In this case it’s a bizarre, almost cancer like demonic face which appears on the bodies of a certain family. The story gets weirder and more bizarre as strange medical experiments play a small role, ultimately leading to a showdown between our enigmatic hero and the face itself. Throughout this we do get little hints about Akamushi’s past, but nothing substantial. The tone of the story takes a rather drastic shift towards the end of this volume as Akamushi heads to high school to protect his future bride. It’s a bizarre twist and not one I ever saw coming. I can’t imagine it’ll offer a great chance for character development or anything other than some weird humor, unless they go a truly horrific route and decide to show just how alien and inhuman Akamushi is via his dealings with the school bullies. One of the noticeable things about the story in this volume, it’s that it’s a departure from the sheer non-stop weirdness of the previous two. While the face is certainly an odd creation, and the story and the methods with which Akamushi deals with it are in keeping with what we’ve seen of him, it just seems a bit more relaxed and less insane then the previous volumes with black holes in hands, living metal alien plants, vampiric whips and the like. The detour into the high school setting doesn’t exactly promise a return to that sort of weirdness any time soon either, which is kind of a shame.
Shin Yong-Gwan’s artwork is solid, and he does a wonderful job at the depictions of the demon face in this volume, showing it in its various forms, with the visual highlight coming when a Lovecraftian mound of flesh appears, riddled with body parts and more faces. Under Yong-Gwan’s pen it’s a truly disgusting and nightmarish sight to behold. His handling of Akamushi is likewise very well done, depicting his enigmatic smile with just the right dash of threatening mystery it deserves. He utilizes a variety of body types and face shapes, giving most of the characters a unique look and feel, without resorting to over the top cartoonishness. Likewise, when there are moments of visual humor in the book, it’s not depicted via chibified caricatures or zany over reactions. It’s very clean and his style works surprisingly well with the material.
While Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist isn’t necessarily the best example of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s work, it does strike me as the most new reader friendly. The series up until now as been pretty easy going and straight forward, without getting bogged down by the X-rated horror that often pops up in his novels and other works. With Shin Yong-Gwan’s solid artwork, Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist seems like it’s the perfect manga for folks looking to scratch that Vampire Hunter D itch as they wait until the final volume of that manga is released, or wait for the next novel.