Author: Hideyuki Kikuchi
Manga-ka: Shin Yong-Gwan
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: March 2010
Synopsis: “In a serendipitous moment, a young girl meets Akamushi, finds him so beautiful and unforgettable, falls in love with him at first sight. Turns out her grandfather and mother are haunted by a “Waraigao” demon – a demon that attacks living human bodies from inside the body to erode and eventually deteriorate their nerves that kills them. Akamushi senses that her family is in danger, follows her home, only to discover that she is being attacked by her own family member that was fully possessed by “Waraigao.” Can Akamushi eliminate the demon and save her life?”
The story that made up the entire first volume ends fairly swiftly here in the second. It comes as a bit of a surprise since the first volume felt as though it was setting up what would be the continuing plot throughout the series. Turns out to the story’s benefit however that this isn’t the case.
The young woman who found herself hunted by unknown assailants remains unsure about her own safety, fearful about who may be around the corner. Soon enough she realizes that it’s those closest to her who hold the real truth and the gruesome faces she sees on them bring forth a very important memory she’d forgotten. When things get dangerous, the beautiful Akamushi appears once again to save her in what swiftly becomes another detailed and grotesque battle to the death. As usual, his unapproachable ability proves no match for the creatures he faces or the remnants of those he dispatched in volume one. Thusly, the young woman, who always seemed to take things perhaps a little too much in stride, sees her story quickly, and to an almost unsatisfying degree after such build-up, come to an end.
But, the story of Akamushi goes on. The rest of the volume consists of a couple short stories before leading into a longer final chapter that ends on a cliffhanger note to move into volume three. While the first volume introduced readers to Akamushi, there wasn’t to know about him past the fact he was undeniably gorgeous and scarily powerful, utilizing spiders and webbing to deadly effect. Here in part two, we see a lot more of his personality and it proves a lot more unpredictable than the inevitability of the battles he takes part in. Akamushi’s exact role and purpose isn’t entirely clear but it is pretty evident he does much of it for his own entertainment. We see him interfere in events for the sake of curiousity, we see him grin a terrifying smile cheek to cheek as he finds something that piques his interest. He seems much more dangerous a character in his own right than just the mysterious savior with dark means that he came across as before. Some of his enigmatic, romanticized charm is lost in this regard but it does offer a lot more unpredictability about him that goes a long way in adding to the horror element of the book.
The first short story, spanning only a few pages, mars the fate of a family whose provider’s eyes fall upon Akamushi – a creature so beautiful that any mortals who see him must die. Cursed to die at the sight of him goes a little far but fans of pretty-boys will certainly not be disappointed by him – wow. Piercing gaze, flowing hair, Heian-period attire – he’s absolutely gorgeous, barring all reviewer-bias. The rest of the art is good, not especially memorable, but it’s consistent and polished and builds a good atmosphere around each scene. The strongest moments are when Akamushi combats otherworldly creatures where a sense of motion and detail is utilized to bring each skin-crawling, blood dripping element to life.
The last story in the book is the one cited on the book’s back cover. It introduces a young girl who is relentlessly teased for being from a family known for being cursed by something called ‘the laughing stomach’. Lost in despair, the girl sees Akamushi beneath a water’s surface and, immediately smitten with his appearance, throws herself into the water to be near him. He saves her from her death, curious about a presence that drew him to her house in the first place. Enthralled with his beauty and demeanour, the girl begs Akamushi to make her his bride – a request that though first refused, is used in teasing fashion later as Akamushi helps himself to her family’s hospitality after the curse spreads through the home. Creepiness ensues! First the girl’s grandfather begins to eat at the very walls of their house and then her Mother stabs a hideous laughing face that protrudes from her own stomach. The story ends with Akamushi introducing himself as he sets to his task of exploring the demonic tumor plaguing the household, looking giddy about the prospects the whole time.
Taimashin: The Red Spider Excorist feels like a much different kind of series now that it’s playing out in episodic tales instead of focusing solely on what some would’ve presumed was the continuing story started in volume one. The format in use now suits the genre and the character better, allowing the lead to be seen in a number of different situations, each one offering another way to reveal a bit more about him. Akamushi is still eye-candy for the interested but has also started to offer plenty more for the curious.