Crimson Spell 5

June 16, 2015

Ayano Yamane – SuBLime – 2014 – 5+ volumes

Yamane keeps alluding to the fact the story is approaching the end!  I’m guessing it’ll be at least 7 volumes, because the ultimate enemy… we see him here, and he has Lim’s face, but we still aren’t quite sure what he’s up to?  I mean, we kind of are (he’s binding demons to weapons to fuse with people, and Vald is the only success so far), but… I guess I’m still curious to see what he’s up to in terms of what he’s doing in this town, and what other cursed weapons are floating around?  I’m not completely confident all my questions will be answered, but on the other hand, I mostly came for the sex, so that’s probably fine.

They get to the capitol of the country they’re in, and it’s pretty great.  It’s a city infused with magic, and the citizens have magic stones that help them to get around now that the magic is fading from the land.  Except the stones are stealing their life force, and the bad wizard may be feeding it to a monster or the little girl princess of the land.  They keep trying to kidnap Vald, and eventually successfully do.  He and Havi are on slightly better terms at the beginning, but spend most of the volume apart anyway.

It doesn’t sound like I give the book a lot of credit, but it’s actually a pretty great fantasy series.  Yamane’s art is, once again, fantastic, and she’s great at drawing buildings, scenery, clothing, monsters, and pretty much everything (weirdly, the thing with the ears is once again absent, so those look good, too).

The slight irreverence in the first volume that I enjoyed is gone, but I don’t mind what it has turned into.  I am surprised she doesn’t make it a little more sexy (I’ve read the Finder series, and the early volumes), but I don’t mind that, either.  I’m waiting for the big Vald/Havi payoff at the end.  I know Yamane is good for it.

I read these last three volumes in the space of a couple hours, and I regret it terribly.  Here’s hoping volume 6 comes out in Japan, at least, this year.

Crimson Spell 4

June 7, 2015

Ayano Yamane – SuBLime – 2014 – 5+ volumes

Vald and Havi are having a fight through most of this volume, and both agree it would be better not to pursue a relationship.  But Vald’s sorta-control over his demon powers has suddenly made him more reckless, which Havi disapproves of.  Vald disregards him, and when Havi points out that Vald doesn’t even need him to control the demon powers anymore, the two sorta sulk until Havi leaves and Vald chases after him.

I know the summary I just gave was mostly about the relationship (which is obviously very important in a BL series), but I still love the fantasy stuff that’s going on.  There are two dragons slain in this volume, and Havi’s skills as a sorcerer are what cause him to seek gainful employment elsewhere.  The gang stops at a town with a magical gate that requires a seal to pass.  In addition, this kingdom is not friendly with Vald’s kingdom, and there’s the chance someone could recognize him as the Crown Prince.  They are traveling to seek a sorcerer (someone Lim knows), the magician who is apparently enchanting weapons like Vald’s sword with demons to build an army, in order to get him to break Vald’s curse.

We also get a juicy tidbit that almost everyone who fuses with a demon dies, so that Vald can cope is rare indeed, and he will probably be captured by said sorcerer.  Hm.  Plus, we have the magicians/demons that were fighting Vald and Havi in volume 2, who still aren’t beaten, and I’m not sure if they’re related to the big bad sorcerer or not.

Admittedly, the fantasy stuff is a little ill-defined, but it works, and Yamane is keeping the story moving through mini-arcs with the fantasy elements.  It’s all I ask.  Fantasy and demons are a major weakness of mine, and I’m loving every page of this.

I’m a little concerned that the traveling party has grown so large.  I liked Vald, Havi, and Rulca, but after the dust settled in the last volume, somehow they now travel with Rein (who’s spying on Havi), Mars (I don’t know why, but he’s awesome), and briefly Lim (who seems to know about the sorcerer that cursed Vald’s sword).  So far it works, but they are already interrupting private/personal time between Vald and Havi.  Hm.

The storyline at the end of the volume where Vald has to sneak into the castle to speak to Havi is tied into the bonus story from last volume.  That’s also the only sex scene in the volume (Gasp!  Again!), but it is spectacular.

Yamane’s art is once again fabulous (the costumes in the above sex scene are a big part of what make it great), but I just realized in this volume that she can’t draw ears from behind.  Now I can’t unsee it, and it’s bothering me.  It’s weird, because I just picked up the first volume of Finder, and they’re fine there, but there’s a lot less heads drawn from behind.  Maybe these chapters were rushed or something?  The art look awesome otherwise, it’s an odd thing to stumble over.

Crimson Spell 3

May 16, 2015

Ayano Yamane – SuBLime – 2014 – 5+ volumes

This volume is surprisingly serious, given the light tone of the early volume.  Havi is bewitched beyond saving.  Vald is trying to fight a sorcerer, who has possibly captured his younger brother and is making him fight Havi.  A few very bad things happen.  This takes up the first 2/3 or so of the volume.  It was nice.

Later, Havi and Vald are sort of at odds, and Vald is trying to come to terms with the fact that, maybe, he kind of likes Havi.  Havi is as brash as always about it, but Vald fought hard enough as a demon in the previous fight that he apparently kind of transforms while still himself, so he has to accept the way Havi bound him.  And he’s not really mad about that.  He’s more mad about the fact Havi is a brash jerk, which is an excellent thing to be mad about.

The major demon plot that started last volume still isn’t resolved, and there’s a newcomer at the very end of this volume.  I’m not sure if he’s evil yet.  Maybe!  Probably.

There’s also a silly short story in the back about how Vald and Havi met (maybe?) when they were children.  Yamane usually puts silly one-shots at the end of the main story, so I don’t put a lot of stock into it.  It was a cute story, and unlike her usual ones.  Yamane usually goes for the nonsensical sex one-shot, and I was expecting it this time too, since there was only one sex scene in this volume.  This may be a record for Ayano Yamane, two sex scenes in two volumes.  But the one-shot set in the past is a nice change of pace.  And Yamane makes up for it with her cheeky end notes.  It’s obvious she doesn’t take her smut too seriously, which is why she’s so great.

I like this series a lot.  I’m going to burn through the last two volumes quickly.  And then I’ll have to wait a bit.  Oh well.  In this volume, she makes it sound like she wanted to finish the series before they did a drama CD, so it can’t be that long, right?  Right?

Crimson Spell 2

February 13, 2015

Ayano Yamane – SuBLime – 2014 – 5+ volumes

Surprisingly, Vald and Havi spend most of this volume apart.  I love that the schism occurs because Havi kisses Vald while he’s not a demon.  But it’s not really because of the kiss that they wind up apart.  They go to a town thanks to a thief that steals Havi’s books, and the town is infested by demons, there’s some big baddies after Vald and Havi, blah blah blah.  It’s pretty good though, and better because Amane is not forcing the characters to have sex.  Actually, they pretty much don’t in this volume, which is a little shocking for an Ayano Yamane story.  I still liked it a lot, though.

The big baddies are mainly aiming for Havi, to use him as a source of power/take him over to get to Vald.  The bad guys have a really hard time taking Havi over completely (they need to try, like, three times after capturing him), and Vald feels bad since it’s supposed to be his job to defend Havi, since the latter isn’t a fighter.

I don’t have that much else to say here.  I was still delighted, despite most of the content flying under the radar, so to speak.  But I’m tickled that Amane is taking the time to build up the story like this, since I’m all about well-done smutty fantasy like this.  And again, I binge-bought the rest of the available volumes, so I’m having myself a little marathon.  On to the next!

Crimson Spell 1

November 16, 2014

Ayano Yamane – SuBLime – 2013 – 5+ volumes

Again, trying to shake off my manga funk, I’m picking and choosing titles carefully.  I was in the mood for some BL, and have a towering stack of unread volumes to choose from… but I didn’t want a bad experience to sour me.  I’m glad I went for Ayano Yamane.  She’d never do me wrong.

This was perfect, because this is basically a fantasy series with a lot of sex.  I was a little shocked by how much sex, though I shouldn’t have been, because… well, I’ve read the Finder series.  This series is about a gentleman/prince named Vald who is crippled by a curse from his family’s heirloom sword.  He turns into a bloodthirsty demon and does he doesn’t know what to innocent people while in this state.  So he seeks out the help of magician Havi, so he can go back and live in his kingdom.

Havi is an aloof magician with a fondness for really weird artifacts.  He agrees to help Vald if Vald helps him on a dragon-slaying quest.  Vald agrees, as he’s “good at that sort of thing.”

The sex comes in when Vald has to sleep at night in some magically sealed shackles in order to keep his demon at bay.  Havi takes them off and binds the demon, then has sex with it.  Because this is an Ayano Yamane manga.

It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which I like, but it keeps it light without drifting into overt comedy (unless you count the plant sex in the bonus chapter, which is a bonus chapter and shouldn’t count).  The story is kind of run-of-the-mill, but just interesting enough that it would keep my attention without the sex.  It straddles an uncomfortable line as to whether it’s non-con or not – Vald doesn’t know what happens to him when he’s a demon… and the demon seems to enjoy the rough treatment.  At least after the first time.

I like Yamane’s artwork a lot (nice character designs, and she’s got a flair for the medieval here), and I like fantasy stories as long as they have a bit of flavor for the plot and characters, which this one does.

I wish it ended with volume 5… not only because I can run out and buy the rest of it right now, but also because this series releases PAINFULLY SLOW in Japan.  We’ve only had 5 volumes since 2004.  I’m not sure that I’m going to like waiting several years for volume 6.  But I will anyway, because that’s what I do.