Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist Vol. #01 - Mania.com

Manga Review

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translation Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 and Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 978-1569701348
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist

Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist Vol. #01

Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcist Vol. #01 Manga Review

By Thomas Zoth     February 12, 2010
Release Date: January 13, 2010

Taimashin: The Red Spider Exorcists Vol. #01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Nudity, gore, and plenty of freak speak in a neo-noir horror from Wicked City's Hideyuki Kikuchi. 

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Hideyuki Kikuchi and Shin Yong-Gwan

What They Say
Traveling in-between the world of the living and the twilight world of the dead, Akamushi, the shaman is known as the Red Spider Exorcist. With the powers of a giant spider, he combats the demons of the netherworld. When career woman Megumi is suddenly pursued and attacked by unholy demons, she seeks Akamushi's help. But as it seems, the minions of the underworld may also be too much for Akamushi to handle. But why are these creatures of twilight after her? What truths will unravel about her true self and everyone around her? And what of Akamushi-can he use his unique shamanic spider-like powers to cast out and purify himself from the demon scourg

The Review!

This volume comes bound with a nice, firm cover. The front cover uses the same image as the Japanese release, which is a large, red-tinted image of exorcist Akamushi Fujiwara in traditional Japanese dress. It's an eye-catching image that nonetheless tells the prospective reader very little about the contents of the manga. At first glance, it looks like a dramatic period piece but does nothing to set it apart from other titles of the genre. I appreciated DMP's addition of a logo with its I's dotted with spiders and the subtitle "The Red Spider Exorcist", which lets me know it is a horror manga. Personally, that would pique my interest enough to pick it up off the shelf and take a look. The back cover shows an image of Fujiwara's fan and includes a nice synopsis of what to expect inside. The printer obviously went through a lot of black ink to print these pages, but the ink has a somewhat washed-out, dark grey look. Still, the quality is very high and all detail is preserved. 
Art for this release is by Shin Yong-Gwan, who has a dark, detailed style. He uses a lot of dark shading, and black and white contrasts that give the manga a neo-noir feel. It feels somewhat reminiscent of Yoshiaki Kawajiri's designs and direction in Wicked City, although Shin's character designs are less angular than Kawajiri's. Unfortunately, Shin's use of computers to design and clean up the panel layouts make things feel a little too neat and clean at times. Because of this, the few errors in posing or perspective tend to stand out quite a bit. His character designs also seem less assured when they slip into cartoony, super-deformed mode. It's as though Shin's working against his natural instincts as an artist to try and fit in with the conventions of manga. Regardless, I found his style delivered everything the title needed: His women are sexy, his ghouls are disgusting, and his settings ooze atmosphere. 
I also enjoyed the translation, which plays it straight most of the time, but also slides into some slight camp when the situation calls for it. In a line I'm sure to be quoting for the next month, heroine Megumi asks a group of zombies if they're talking in "freak speak." Brand names and special attacks are left in the original language with a small note below the panel offering a translation.  
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):  
This Taimashin involves a Red Spider Exorcist, and should not be confused with Hideyuki Kikuchi's other Taimashin series done with artist Misaki Saitoh, previously put out by ADV Manga. The other Taimashin involved a Japanese acupuncturist who worked to banish demons out of the Cthulhu mythos. Judging from this volume, Red Spider Taimashin has absolutely nothing in common with the other series save the name. Kawajiri appears to be playing it straight this time with a serious horror story with a few touches of humor. To prevent any potential confusion, I will not refer to acupuncturist Taimashin again. 
Our story starts out in Seoul with Japanese businesswoman Megumi Ohtori walking hurriedly through the busy nighttime streets. She has the sneaking suspicion she's being followed, and her pursuers don't seem to be especially human. She ducks down a dark alley, where she runs into a mysterious old fortune teller named Gyouanja who offers to help her escape for a fee. Megumi is briefly taken aback, but decides to offer up the cash as her pursuers approach. Gyouanja directs her further down the alley, which leads to a Noh stage in a cul de sac filled with blooming cherry trees. There, a mysterious man performs a fan dance for a small audience. Megumi is encouraged to sit and watch, but beast-men soon arrive and demand she be turned over to them. The Noh actor turns out to be Akamushi Fujiwara, red spider exorcist extraordinare, who demands the men leave immediately. Naturally, the beast men refuse, and one of their number uses a mouth on his hand to quickly devour Fujiwara. All appears to be lost, but Fujiwara manages to escape and drive the beast men off. The exorcist tells Megumi that he is bound to her by a thread of fate, and that he will come to rescue her if additional pursuers come during the night. Megumi then awakens in an alley, as if from a dream, and dismisses everything that previously happened. Of course, the night of horror is just beginning. 
Anyone familiar with Kikuchi can see that he seems to be pulling some familiar tricks out of his bag. The hand mouth comes straight from Vampire Hunter D, and a sexy woman in black leather and some half-spider people recall his Wicked City. The above described character introduction sequence didn't particularly grab me, but as the night goes on, there are hints that something more interesting might be developing. The first volume ends with a revelation that's not incredibly surprising, but it does have the benefit of setting up the second volume as the make or break one for the series. If Kikuchi continues recycling older horror tropes in the second volume, my enthusiasm will wane. So far, however, the series looks to have some potential and I'm looking forward to reading more. 
In Summary:
Taimashin starts off with a volume that's more style than substance. It's a rather paint-by-numbers so far, but picture is nonetheless dark, sleek, and sexy. If the image of a demonic seductress tying poor heroine Megumi up with a living bullwhip at a hot springs resort appeals to you… I'm sure I just sold you on this series. If you're not sold, the story thus far does not provide incentive to change any minds. This is pulp horror for people who like pulp horror. I'm a fan, so I enjoyed Taimashin quite a bit. I'm looking forward to the second volume to see if Kikuchi is planning on taking us anywhere new next time.


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