DEMON PALACE BABYLON
Makai Toshi Hunter Series: Makyû Babylon, “Demon (Realm) City Hunter Series: Demon Palace Babylon” • Hideyuki Kikuchi (story), Shin-Ichi Hosoma (art) • ADV (2003–2004) • Akita Shoten (Susperia Mystery, 2001) • 2 volumes • Shôjo, Occult, Science Fiction, Action • 16+ (language, nudity, graphic violence)
In this stand-alone sequel to Demon City Hunter, a strange palace appears in the sky above Tokyo’s demon-haunted Shinjuku district. The palace turns out to be the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, whose masked lord invites Tokyo’s elite—and most especially the hero’s female friend Sayaka—to a grand housewarming party. Soon, sword-wielding Kyoya is fighting to rescue Sayaka from the clutches of none other than Nebuchadnezzar II, ruler of Babylon. Shin-Ichi Hosoma, the ever-adaptable artist, yet again “modernizes” his character designs for Sayaka and Kyoya, who resemble their Demon City Shinjuku selves but with wilder hair and different outfits. Compared to Kikuchi’s other manga, though, it’s a mild letdown—the level of craziness is lower than usual (even lower than the level of historical research), and the formulaic, fighting-oriented plot has the feel of a low-budget anime. Originally based on an untranslated novel by Kikuchi.
• Wataru Murayama • ADV (2004) • Mag Garden (Comic Blade, 2002–2004) • 3 volumes, suspended (5 volumes in Japan) • Fantasy, Adventure • All Ages (violence, brief partial nudity)
In his dreams, Naoto is summoned into the parallel world of Orgos, where the evil Elphis prey on the peaceful Sand Dusts, and where his dream girl, Lusia, takes him as her “servant monster.” At its best (such as the dusky landscapes and the evocative cover art), Desert Coral conveys the solemnly awestruck feeling of a traveler in a faraway world. However, the plot (apocalyptic prophecies) and character designs (elf ears and cat ears) soon turn clichéd, and you never really figure out what the characters are fighting for or why women randomly confess love for the hero. The interaction between the “real” world and Orgos is interesting.