Author/Artist: Yayoi Neko
Publisher: Kitty Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: October 2008
“Can a demon find love on Earth? The painful relationship between the demon Lenniel and the human Judas continues all the odds stacked against them. They will endure tribulations as pressures from Hell and Earth seek to split them apart. How can they overcome such epic obstacles?”
Despite the book’s back cover synopsis, the relationship between Lenniel and Judas doesn’t carry much focus in this third volume of Incubus, nor (much to Lenniel’s dismay) does it really exist. But romance and tribulations can be found in the bodies and souls of another trialed couple, the return of the demon Kent and his injured human lover, Alexi. After an accident left him comatose, Kent stays at Alexi’s side with hope of a recovery but what he doesn’t know is that Alexi is fighting his own internal battle against the man who put him in the coma in the first place.
First impression, volume three of Incubus is huge! Coming in at a hefty 300 pages, there’s plenty of reading material here to keep a fan entertained for a while. This is both good and bad, for while lots of story and art to partake in is great, often times the story feels a little too bogged down in the metaphorical dramatics that give it such a length.
The majority of this book’s first half follows Kent and Alexi. I was thrilled to see them return to the forefront of the story after Kent’s battle with Lenniel in the first volume. We learn more about their past together as Kent raised Alexi from infancy, and as their relationship became much more when Alexi grew into adulthood. We learn more about Kent’s motives, Alexi’s personality and they make for a sweet and charming couple whose happiness it’s near impossible not to root for.
My favourite part of this third volume is the characterization given to the entire cast, especially Kent and Lenniel, who interact in both dramatic and highly amusing conversations, as Lenniel offers to help Kent revive Alexi’s soul. Lenniel regains much of the personality I felt wavered in volume two and infact I’d say this is the most lively and rich he’s felt since the story’s beginning. Amidst his dark past and angsty present regarding the hopeless Judas, Lenniel is at heart a cheeky, passionate man who makes all the scenes he’s involved in a treat to read. Too bad I feel quite the opposite for the weepy Judas, thus the relationship Lenniel yearns for with him leaves me a little cold.
Some new villains add some spice to the story, including a sadistic demon, who attacks Alexi in his dream world state, and the demon’s very pretty assistant whose fallen in love with a human himself, a human who’s merit I’ve yet to figure out, with so many being head over heels for him, but I’ve no doubt it’ll end up being something relevant! There are some brisk fight scenes and potent confrontations during the first half of the book and they make for a nice momentary leave from the plot-exposition and metaphoric musings that the rest of the book carries on.
Yayoi Neko has a unique art style and it brings so much to her story. I love it! The most notable attribute of the characters is the muscle, with all the characters built strong and solid. It’s probably one of the closest looks to bara we’ll see officially released in English and it balances those attributes really well with it’s rich detail and theatrical visuals that are reminiscent of CLAMP’s X/1999, with metaphoric angel wings, thorns and robes adorning the character’s nude forms during introspective musings. The layout of the panels is smooth and consistant, as is the quality of the art itself, and I can say with full confidence that, opinions on the style itself pending person-to-person of course, Yayoi Neko is one of the most professional and talented artists creating global manga and I’ve enjoyed everything by her that I’ve purchased.
Incubus volume three was certainly worth the wait, with many pages of beautiful artwork, passionate sexual encounters, lots of dramatics and some really well executed humour sprinkled over top. While I found myself a little bored by the occasionally excessive internal character monologues at times, overall this third volume was a really great read and I’m sure that volume four will be worth any wait as well.