Direction: Right to Left
by: Hideyuki Kikuchi (Author), Jun Suemi (Illustrator)
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Sci-fi, Supernatural, Seinen
In the first decade of the 21st century, a supernatural phenomenon called the Devil Quake levelled the city of Shinjuku in three seconds flat. Since then, wrapped in a phantasmal miasma, the accursed place has earned the abhorrent designation of “Demon City.” In the blink of an eye, it became a land ruled by the hair-raising and the bizarre.
The year is now 2030. A powerful warlock hiding out in Shinjuku attempts to assassinate the secretary general of the Earth Federation, bringing the planet to the brink of disaster. Wielding the fearsome and mysterious martial art of nenpo, high school student Kyoya Izayoi may be the only person capable of resisting the rising forces of evil.
This is one of the books that was lost in my move sadly, I’d not had a chance to read it, hell i don’t think I’d even taken it out of it’s wrapper. Luckily it’s available as a kindle download as well, so I purchased that.
I was hoping to open my blog with a sterling review from a publisher I’ve come to trust and respect, sadly this is not the case.
Demon city is Kikuchi’s initial book, and for many, his best. It originally consisted of two separate books, the first Demon City Sinjuku, and the second Demon Palace Babylon. they were brought together as a single omnibus edition and released by Digital Manga Publishing back in November 2011.
The series of books follows two characters throughout both volumes. The First Izayoi, your typical teen, with not so typical martial arts skills. We’re initially introduced to him doing the usual sort of thing we see kids doing, flipping skirts, hanging out etc. etc. I have to admit i wasn’t sure if i liked him initially, as a person, Kikuchi did an amazing job introducing him. It’s really refreshing to have a lead character you can’t make your mind up over, rather than one whose feel and design is apparent from the outset.
I loved the way his personality changes slightly depending on the situation, but never really departs from what was shown, that of a cocksure teen. As the stories continued we got to actually see him organically grow as a person as he faced life, death and love. Again it was a great change of pace from the usual static and contrived (if fun) progressions.
The second lead, who is brought in a little later is Sayaka Ramna, daughter of the President. She’s again, your atypical girl whose led a pretty sheltered life, initially she hates Izayoi, but over the volume falls in love for him. Initially I wasn’t to keen on her. but I have to admit that she was perfectly matched to Izayoi. Her naivety adds a great element to the story, as does the way it’s scoured away over the course of the story.
The first part of the book, Demon City Shinjuku, deals with an assault on the President, the ‘Demon Quake’ that created the Demon City, and a feud that started with Izayoi’s father.
I love the way Kikuchi melds science fiction, fantasy and reality into each other. This is something he’s done well in all the books I’ve read, and while it’s true that in this story it’s ‘rough’ even here you see his skill at story telling. Over the course of the novel events of the past, such as how the city became the way it is, how Izayoi became the martial artist he is, and why he was taught that. I also liked the way that while initially the story leads you one way, it smoothly flipped over and went another. I’d just begun building up a theory on the the ‘who’, ‘what’, and ‘why’, when it was all turned around; I LOVED this.
The story is a bit fast paced, and towards the end I got the impression that Kikuchi realised he was running out of space and cut bits out. As a result, to me, the later half of the volume felt rushed, and while not bad, a bit lacking. The ending is, despite the pace, well done and satisfying.
The second novel was a bit harder to get into for me, as there always felt like something was missing. The story is well written, though flows a little fast. I suspect this is in part due to the fact that Kikuchi didn’t need to introduce and set up the characters and was able to just get on with things. This caused problems for me especially at the beginning when Izayoi has an ‘event’ that doesn’t really make much sense story wise. Although it explains, sort of, why he went to the Demon City again it’s never revealed as to ‘why’ he had that event.
Although later in the story certain histories are revealed that when you think back on it make you go ‘ahh maybe that’s why’, but it’s never explained, either overtly or subtly.
In fact, this time around it feels that Izayoi is just tacked on, since the focus is predominantly on Sayaka. While i know this isn’t the case and he plays a central roll in things, I couldn’t help but get that feeling. Sayaka on the other hand gets a lot of love this time around, which makes sense since she is the corner stone of the story this time.
I loved the story this time, and despite the way it felt to me, i really got into it. Again Kikuchi melded sci-fi and fantasy, with real life history into an amazing story. While it was well written and I couldn’t help but get drawn into it, I felt the ending was terribly done. Although technically it was all resolved, evil vanquished etc. etc., what was left was Izayoi with some super powers beyond that of even the guru from the first volume. So he really became one of the strongest people on the planet. With that in mind there was no conclusion as to what happened to him, or to the relationship between him and Sayaka.
Yet, i still enjoyed reading it, so it’s all good i guess Considering these were his first books he did a really great job.
Sadly DMP didn’t, in fact this is probably the worst I have seen from a ‘established’ publisher in a long time. Part of this can be attributed, possibly, to the conversion to kindle format, but I feel a lot of it is just bad editing on the part of DMP, and the person doing the editing not paying attention to even simple things.
Quite a few times i cam across miss-spelt words that even cursory spell check would have found. what’s more there were a lot of extra ‘C’ letters scattered throughout the volume. these would be in places where a space would be used, for example: somethingClikeCthis.CIsn’tCitCannoying.
These happened quite a few times throughout the volume, and this is what I’m guessing was a result of the conversion to kindle for some reason. However the fact that it wasn’t Q&A’d before it was released to kindle is a black mark to DMP.
Since this post went live I have received an email from DMP regarding the issues i raised above:
We went back to the file and found what caused all those unseemly “C’s”. Of course much of the spelling issues were a stylization call, we made sure to clean it up a bit.
So the above flaws i noted have now been rectified. Once I’ve read the updated book I’ll return adding my thoughts once again.
On the plus side, they did a direct conversion, so all the images are kept intact, which is a great bonus. I’ve bought several kindle books that had had their images removed. The other bonus we get is a significant reduction in price and availability. The kindle edition is £5.60 with immediate delivery compared to the print edition being £10.99, and not currently available.
So i do recommend buying it, in either format, as it is a great story. Once i can get another print version I’ll update this post with my thoughts and comparisons!!