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Yashakiden: The Demon Princess, Vol. 3

Yashakiden: The Demon Princess, Vol. 3Yashakiden: The Demon Princess, Vol. 3
Written by Hideyuki Kikuchi, Illustrated by Jun Suemi, Translated by Eugen Woodbury
DMP, 496 pp
Rating: YA (16 +)

The third volume of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s vampire opus continues! This time around we get a double dose of the story as DMP collects volumes three and four of the Japanese release under a single cover, turning the book into a true monster that’s nearly 500 pages in length! Setsura, Mephisto and the allies continue to wage their war with the invading Chinese vampires as alliances shift and new players enter the field of battle that is Shinjuku.

Kikuchi continues to weave and interesting story and even expands upon Princess and her companions’ history here and there. In the first volume of the series he linked her to the near mythical Daji of ancient China. Here he ties her and companions into Indian myth and more. In addition he ramps up the the subplot that started back in the first volume. Toss in a new member of Princess’ entourage and a lengthy out of nowhere subplot involving a dreaming clam, introduce a new faction and you’ve got one busy and odd book. Perhaps a bit too busy and odd as several cracks begin to appear within the story itself. On several occasions Kikuchi introduces new horrors whose only purpose seems to be to introduce a new ability, item or such that coincidentally proves vital to the main plot later on. On one hand this does help populate the city and make it feel like a living, breathing place full of things and characters with their own agendas. On the other hand, instead of being elegant and clever they often feel forced and awkward to the point that you have no choice but to roll your eyes at it.

The cast expands in several directions as Kikuchi introduces a new group into the already volatile mix, namely the JDSF. They not only add complications for our already existing cast, but they also open up the plot a bit and give us a look at how Japan and the rest of the world view and deal with the Demon City. It’s something I’ve been curious about since I started reading the series, and while he’s touched upon the subject before, this is a bit more than throwaway lines and brief mentions of things like tourists and smuggling. Perhaps the most interesting expansion to the book’s cast comes in the form of Galeen Nuvemberg, an ancient witch who was briefly mentioned in the previous two volumes. She takes a more active roll in events with this volume and is one of the few women I’ve come across in a Kikuchi novel who doesn’t seem to fall into the role of victim or villain. Admittedly she’s also described as an eighty year old woman, but it’s still nice to see a woman that’s not helpless plot device or sex crazed maniac.

I’m still enjoying the series but it’s starting to feel like it’s being padded out a bit. Some of the new twists work and make perfect sense, like the introduction of the JSDF to the story, but then you have the other weird bits of forced coincidences that are just groan inducing. Still, there’s no way you can read this and not get the sense that Kikuchi isn’t having fun and, quite frankly, it’s kind of infectious. Despite my complaints I still really enjoyed the book and I’m really curious as to how it’ll wrap up.

Yashakiden: The Demon Princess, Vol. 3 is available now at Emanga.com. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.

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