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Wicked City: The Scarlet Clan by Hideyuki Kikuchi

01/03/2011. Contributed by Phil Jones

Buy Wicked City: The Scarlet Clan in the USA - or Buy Wicked City: The Scarlet Clan in the UK

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pub: Tor/Seven Seas. 222 page paperback. Price: $10.99(US) $12.50 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-2332-3.

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This novel, ‘The Scarlet Clan’, was original published in Japan in 1986 by Hideyuki Kikuchi who is probably better known for Vampire Hunter D. This is the third novel in the ‘Wicked City’ series following on from ‘The Black Guard’ and ‘The Other Side’.

The series follows the black guard, an elite force comprising of human agents from around the world and also demons and those of mixed heritage. They protect and maintain balance between the human and demonworld. This balance is pivotal to the child conceived by the mortal Taki and the demoness Makie being born. There are plenty of demons who wish to either stop the birth or gain possession of the child for their own ends.

This is especially true of the Shu family, a demon clan that spread chaos and destruction. Their main intent is stopping the child becoming the kingpin of any peace, fearing what was foretold in an ancient prophecy. They throw some of their most powerful demons to try and destroy the couple and the unborn child. Right from the off, the demons and Black Guard are pitted against each other both trying to out-smart and out-manoeuvre the other. A meeting held by the Black Guards elite is infiltrated by one of the Shu family, getting past high levels of protection and security in what should have been a Black Guard safe-house.

With Makie in a safe-house, Taki is left both to pursue and also be chased by various demons from the Shu family. The situation only escalates as Makie starts to exhibit somewhat strange behaviour and Taki is left unsure whether it’s the pregnancy, the situation in hand or just the plain fact she is a demon.

Even though it’s a novel, its sheer pace and speed will be appealing to manga fans as will its dark themes and bias toward brutal fight sequences, violence and darkly sexual themes. It leaves little to the imagination, presenting the action in a very visual, visceral and dynamic manner.

A lot of the scenes are quite graphic and leave little to the imagination. I enjoyed most of the fight sequences but some could have done with a bit more expansion as could a few of the characters although the pace never really allows for in-depth character development. Taki is, as the main focus of the book, becomes an interesting lead. This as a book could have just become a series of set pieces but there is enough plot there to bring it comfortably together. It’s not completely without fault, occasionally getting overly descriptive and lingering perhaps a bit too long on certain scenes but generally a really fun read.

Phil Jones

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