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Review: Dark Walker

Reviewer: Jaime Samms

Author: Hikaru Yura
Manga-ka: Hirotaka Kisaragi
Publisher: June
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: November 2008

Synopsis: “Tomoki Naruse has the strangest dreams. Every night, he finds himself waiting for a phantom lover – whom he has never seen. Unraveling the mystery of Tomoki’s dream lover leads him to discover the Depths of Dreams, a shadowy world hidden within the darkness, and the realization that he is one of the mythical Dark Walkers – a human born with the ability to “fall” from the Real World into the Depths of Dreams with his mind and body intact. Dark Walker is the sensual story of two boys who discover love in the midst of great danger.”

Tomoki has no idea what to make of these dreams he’s been having. He does know they aren’t something to be shared with his ribald classmates, though. No telling what they’d say to make fun of him if they knew. Strangely, he doesn’t seem to have the same worries about the new guy in class – handsome, tall, and flirtatious, Yugo. In fact, Tomoki is pretty sure his reaction to Yugo isn’t quite what he’s come to expect as ‘normal’.

Tomoki Naruse has just started his freshman year in high school, and as with all healthy, young men at his age, he’s been dreaming of sex. But Tomoki isn’t having normal wet dreams like his classmates! In his nightmares, err… dreams… his partner is a man – and to make things worse, Tomoki is on the bottom! Aside from Tomoki’s unsettling dreams, high school life is fun – especially with his new, handsome, best friend Yugo Oda. But Yugo is no ordinary freshman – he’s involved in mysterious activities that Tomoki can’t even begin to imagine!

This story is nice, focusing a bit on Tomoki’s coming out, mostly to himself, and admitting he’s interested in Yugo as more than just a friend. Finding out Yugo is the one he’s been dreaming about and that Yugo is actually entering his dreams is something else again, though.

I like Tomoki, even if he is a little stubborn in seeing the truth and then in admitting it. Once he does, though, he’s loyal and fierce in protecting his lover. It’s heart-warming to see and heartbreaking to watch what he has to go through, and what he must sacrifice to do it.

I’m finding out with many of these light novels that there’s not enough insight into the seme’s point of view. I like semes, and I’d like to know what’s going through their pretty heads, but maybe that’s me. In this instance, there seems to be a lot of sadness in Yugo’s past that he doesn’t really share with Tomoki, but it does explain his caution and patience. Maybe he’s afraid to push Tomoki too hard, afraid to push him away.

Some of the illustrations in this book are less expressive than I’d like, but the mid-story black and white drawing – where Kisaragi shows her version of Tomoki saving Yugo from becoming a demon – is absolutely gorgeous. The desperation in Yugo’s expression and the sweet acceptance in Tomoki’s are so perfect. I kept going back to look at it again. Her depiction of the villain is also so vivid; it gives a great sense of his cold cruelty and beauty, which she later softens to something almost loving in the last image of him.

His relationship with his slave is what I have the most problem with. I guess I’m just not a fan of violence paired with sex, which is different from D/s and BDSM. This was a little extreme for my taste.

As for the writing itself, I’m not sure. There’s a lot of clunky prose, and as I’ve mentioned in other reviews, not sure if that’s a function of the original Japanese text or of the translation, or of an English translator with less writing experience. I’ve no idea what it takes to translate from one language to another effectively, so all I can speak to is the fact that the writing was not as immediate as I like. There is a lot of “he felt his body grow hot and sweaty.” and “Tomoki was running around…” which puts an extra bit of stumbling words between reader and action. Could be lost in translation, could be the original Japanese is stilted. I only know I wish the writing to be a bit cleaner. That’s probably the writer in me coming out.

All in all, I did like the story line, and the twists thrown in gave the overall story an emotional edge that reconciled a lot of the difficulties I had with it. For fans of yaoi willing to overlook the technical flaws, there’s a lot of emotion, lots of action and a fantastic twist here in Dark Walkers. And, of course, some lovely sex scenes between the main characters.

Review written January 29, 2010 by Jaime Samms
Book provided by Digital Manga for review purposes

Jaime Samms

About the Author:

Jaime Samms has been writing gay romance and fiction for quite some time now, and reviewing it for almost as long. She's published with e-publishers Freya’s Bower, Lovyoudivine Alterotica and soon, Total e-Bound and Drollerie Press. "Writing is quite a passion for me. I’ve been asked many times why write about love affairs between men, when I clearly am not one, and really, it feels right to me. Not a terribly informative answer, but there it is."

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