Twilight of the Dark Master Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 222
  • ISBN: 1-56970-950-5
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Twilight of the Dark Master Vol. #01

By Matthew Alexander     April 17, 2006
Release Date: June 01, 2005

Twilight of the Dark Master Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Saki Okuse
Translated by:Duane Johnson
Adapted by:

What They Say
Crime is big business in the city, but even the worst of Chinatown are forced to run for cover when crazed demons mysteriously mangle and devour girls in the street sex industry. A wave of mutilation unlike anything in history has officials and civilians asking questions with no answers... and because strange times call for even stranger measures, the elusive Shijo Detective Agency takes up the reins. Will the enigmatic, powerful Tsunami bring an end to the madness... or will the quest stir something even deeper within his own soul?

Brimming with vicious twists and suspense, Twilight of the Dark Master is a modern gothic nightmare set to the natural, violent rhythms of the urban landscape. Get ready for a journey where the line between bad and good, real and unreal, is more than blurred... it's bloody. Welcome to the end of the world.

The Review
This title is in a fairly large format when compared to most manga released in the U.S. It has a color dust jacket, which was nice because I didn't have to go looking for a bookmark. The front cover is solid black with a square picture of Tsunami looking up from atop a pile of rubble. The books' title is written in large, scratchy font above the picture and takes up the top third of the cover. The publishers name is written along the bottom edge and there is a 'Parental Advisory' emblem printed above that. The back cover has a synopsis of the story and a small picture of a woman in a black leather corset tied up with rope. Since this book has a dust jacket, the publisher took advantage of the extra space and printed a completely different synopsis on the inner flap.

The printing was nice and clean, well-centered and lacked any alignment issues. As far as extras go, there are some translations of words written in the gutters and a strange, somewhat rambling afterword by the author/artist at the end of the book.

The art and character designs are a little scratchy and rough, but it works well with the grittiness of the title. The author admits he doesn't draw very much and it can be seen through the somewhat awkward movement of the characters in action sequences and the facial proportions of minor characters, which sometimes look a little out of whack. The panel layout and backgrounds are rather dull, and the shading is usually on the darker side, but again it works well with the story and the setting in the crime filled streets of Chinatown.

The translation reads well and I was happy to see the Japanese SFX remains with smaller English translations next to them. There were a few Chinese characters in this story, which was set in Japan, and when they spoke to each other the Chinese script is left in with English translations in parentheses alongside. I thought this was handled nicely, except the first time a character speaks Chinese the translation was left out (forgotten?).

Contents: (Oh yes, there may be spoilers)
Tsunami Shijo is an enigmatic detective working with the police on a mysterious series of murders taking place in Chinatown and involving young women. When those responsible for the murders are caught, they always appear sub-human and have been feeding on the bodies of their victims. Then one day a new client, Shizuka, comes to Tsunami with a bizarre request. She wants him to search for her missing boyfriend Eiji. It turns out Eiji was really sick right before he grew a horn and mutated into an Oni. Shizuka's willing to do anything to find him and end his miserable life, including becoming a prostitute in Chinatown in order to search out clues to his whereabouts.

Tsunami agrees to take the case, claiming Oni hunting is his specialty. He decides to begin his search with the dregs of Chinatown's society, but there seems to be something more taking place under the seedy exterior of Chinatown's sex industry than just the sell of male fantasies. This becomes even more apparent when Tsunami is attacked by a pair of brother and sister Chinese nationals. The ensuing battle exposes Tsunami's powers as a fire manipulator during his battle against the wind manipulating powers of the siblings.

Through some dangerous detective work, both Shizuka and Tsunami learn that Eiji is being held by the local Yakuza. The crime syndicate has kept him chained up and allowed him to gorge himself on a steady supply of local prostitutes. Shizuka decides to take matters into her own hands and attempts to kill Eiji. This course of action quickly leads to the ultimate showdown with Tsunami and Shizuka against Eiji and the wind manipulating siblings. But in the end, Tsunami discovers these agents were all just pawns of a higher power behind the Yakuza. In a laboratory deep within a skyscraper, Tsunami must confront the man pulling the strings of power and eventually the secret of his own existence.

Twilight of the Dark Master is full of Oni, werewolves and magic-users, oh and if that's not enough for you there are also plenty of prostitutes and yakuza. Yep, it has a little something for every adult oriented fan. The whole story takes place in the dark underbelly of some unnamed Japanese city where everyone scrapes by just to survive, especially in Chinatown. On the exterior it appears to be a story about monsters, magic and yakuza, but underneath all this is an interesting look at the perceived relations between Japanese citizens and Chinese immigrants as seen through the eyes of prostitutes and gangsters. This book also has a somewhat cinematic feel, and should be an enjoyable read for anyone looking for a dark story with very adult themes.


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