Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: Taimashin, Vol. 2

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Taimashin, Vol. 2, story by Hideyuki Kikuchi, art by Misaki Saitoh, Grade: B+

The girl drives Taima and Ayakashi to the house, where they're given a cool reception and an absolute denial that anything is wrong. Mizuki claims to have not left the house; the grandmother feigns ignorance of the abduction charges against her; and the frog priest says that it's all just been a big test. The girl introduces herself as Mayu and really wants the two visitors to stick around. Taima and Ayakashi show the bag and lantern they'd picked up, and the grandmother, Taki, decides to let them stay for dinner. While they're waiting alone in another room, Taima points out that everything around them, such as the tea cups and table, is old, one of a kind, and very valuable. Mayu enters the room as they're inspecting stuff and laughs at their poses. Dinner is ready, and seems to some kind of a stew made with demon meat. Taima happily eats his share, but Ayakashi is more hesitant. Afterward, while the priest is grudgingly escorting them to their rooms, they see a big stone tower in the distance, and a car racing towards them, being followed by a large black cloud. A demon foot emerges from the cloud and crushes the car, then disappears.

(Mizuki and Mayu.)

A little later, the smashed body of Ogura, the manager of the other acupuncturist that passed the test in volume 1, is brought into the house. Taima performs a 1000 needle acupuncture maneuver on the corpse and finishes it by making a transfer to Taki as she's just entering the doorway. The old woman pulls out a metal glove that she puts on her right hand, and does some kind of pulling action on the head of the corpse. Things are left at this point and Taima remembers the old woman's original name - Taki Kijou ("Oni Above Taki").

(Mayu is easily amused.)

Taima and Ayakashi are next seen in their room, when Mayu comes in. She wants to talk, and states that her grandmother is actually dead. That night, the two men go to the tower, arguing whether it was ok to steal the Jaguar, and if Taki's corpse is really in the tower. The door at the base of the tower is locked and Taima says that the only way in is for someone to help them enter through the window 25 meters up. At that point, a rope ladder drops from the window and a woman tries climbing down, except that a demon hand appears and pulls her back inside. The two men grab the ladder, but the demon lets the one end go from the window sill. They're rescued through a lower window by Jingo Kisou, the one that had been managed by Ogura.


Taima and Jingo get off on the wrong foot, and Jingo prepares to attack him with a needle, but Ayakashi recognizes the guy as an old classmate and they celebrate their reunion. Suddenly there's a heavy pounding from the top of the tower and a voice booms out that it wants to eat women. Jingo says that's not allowed and the booming gets louder. Jingo opens a trap door in the ceiling and tells the other two to not follow him. They ignore him and the three of them emerge onto the next floor and are surrounded by the darkness created by the demon. Jingo disappears and Ayakashi uses his lighter to see where they are. The demon appears in the darkness right behind him and grabs him up. Ayakashi drops his lighter, which Taima hastily grabs, since there's only the one lighter, but if the demon eats the other guy that leaves Taima to save the day. Disgusted at having to rescue himself, Ayakashi throws a needle at the demon's eye. It roars in pain, lets go and disappears. Soon after, Jingo shows up with the woman from earlier and they all go down to the ground floor where one room is equipped with a bed, TV and fridge. The trap doors operate by themselves to let the humans pass by. After the woman is placed on a cot, Ayakashi asks his friend for an explanation, but Jingo remains silent because right now they're business rivals. Ayakashi threatens to reveal Jingo's secret to the outside world - during an English test, Jingo had given one particular answer as "call me a taxi", so from that point on all his classmates referred to him as "Mister Taxi". Ayakashi explains that the correct answer should have been "call a taxi for me" and the other guy can't tell the difference. This is a sign that Jingo has yet to learn English, which is going to be an issue when they start traveling to the U.S. for their jobs. Jingo fails to rise to the bait, saying that he can't be bothered by someone that doesn't even know Japanese. On one test, with the word "taishikan" (大使館, embassy), Ayakashi had written the kanji for "daibenkan" (大便館, shit house).

(Taima'a 1000 Needles.)

During the bickering, Taima walks over to another lever and pulls it. Jingo reacts quickly, asking what's going on. Taima replies that since there's no demon here, and none upstairs, he wants to go check downstairs. Jingo applauds him, saying that he's not as stupid as his idiot classmate, but it's be a problem if there's any interference with his plans. The two men pull out needles and prepare to duel. Taima performs his 1000 needle move and Jingo goes through the counter, and they attack simultaneously.

(Taki's glove.)

As a comment, the artwork in this book has improved. There's no longer a sense of the characters being pasted over a photo. The character designs are mostly consistent from panel to panel (not always) and the jokes are funny. If the artwork in the American version was muddy, it's because of the American printing process, and not due to flaws in the original Japanese backgrounds.

(Ayakashi and Jingo.)

Summary: The story continues to unfold, with weird suspects, silly heroes, and threatening demons. All we know at this point is that the answers may not be forthcoming in the next volume. Recommended.

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