Thursday, October 6, 2011

Review: Taimashin, Vol. 4

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Taimashin, Vol. 4, story by Hideyuki Kikuchi, art by Misaki Saitoh, Grade: B+

Maki, Mayu and Garama reach the ruined city, and discover that they can't stop or turn around. Eventually their vehicles stop by themselves and they can get out. Maki can't contact Taima, so they're on their own. They notice a couple campfires, one of which has a demon arm roasting on a spit. Maki accidentally bumps a crumbling wall and attracts the attention of some of the demons at the fire. She runs deeper into the ruins to lure her pursuers away from the other two, and takes out some of them with a trank dart gun, an Uzi and a whole bunch of needles (the grasshopper needles are especially effective). But, one demon still manages to get in close and rip her jugular out with its teeth. A strange shadowy figure saves her by throwing a needle into the demon's mouth and then moving her to a safe place for emergency acupuncture surgery.

Back at the tower, the Mizuki-shaped demon has been tied up to the wall and is screaming in pain as Jingo experiments on it with his needles. She keeps asking for the reason for this treatment, and Jingo sticks in a few more needles to see what the effects are. Finally, he answers that he's simply looking for the demon's vital points. His particular school of demon acupuncture has lost a lot of the information regarding demon vital points and he's trying to find them all now. In part because demons like her can do anything, from flying to digging through the ground. Which is why Jingo wants to seal such demons. Shinobu laughs, then takes the chance to try biting his head off. After a few seconds, she stops trying and realizes that he's also a demon. He explains by repeating the old proverb "to understand the enemy, become the enemy". He'd turned himself into a demon as part of his research. Since he's actually a demon-human, his vital points are different from hers. Suddenly, he gets a headache and Shinobu taunts him about not being a real demon. He hits her, ripping the ropes loose and causing her to land on top of the needles stuck in her lower torso. One pierces her back, causing her to revert to human form. His headache gets worse and he starts acting more like a demon, asking if "this" or "that" is her vital point as he rapes her. She won't die, though, since internally she's still an immortal demon.

Maki has an out of body experience, then regains consciousness in an abandoned room, with a young man kneeling next to her. She's been out for 3 days as the man, who she recognizes as Kurusu-kun, has worked on purging the demon poison from her body. He's a member of the U.S. Army, and she asks why he's camped out in the ruins here, with a sleeping bag, lantern, rations and a laptop. He just says "top secret mission". Then an alarm goes off and Kurusu checks the portable computer in his coat to determine that two figures are heading their way. A few seconds later, a dirty and tattered Mayu and Garama stumble in. Kurusu has a gun pulled out and refuses to lower it. Of all the buildings in the town, why come to this one? Garama answers that they'd seen the light from outside, which would be fine except that Kurusu has set up a camouflage screen and no light can escape the room. Giving up on subtlety, the shorter one turns into a demon and jumps forward, into the force field set around the center of the room. Maki asks where the real humans are, and the Garama-demon tells her they're safe with some other demons. If they come quietly, he promises to eat them painlessly. Kurusu doesn't care for that response and fires a shell containing 10,000 micron-long tungsten needles, which stings the demons a lot.

(Receiving anti-demon acupuncture.)

Kurusu asks what they really are, and the Garama-demon says "we're demons". The man shoots him and again and asks one more time. Garama bites its tongue off and dies. Kurusu turns to the Mayu-demon, who answers that they're demon devotees. Humans that wanted the Touma clan to give them demon powers, but the conversion is incomplete. They're relegated to living in the ruins, eating what they can find. Kurusu uses an antidote to eliminate the needles, and the demon devotee attacks him, going for his neck. But, Kurusku quickly leaps out of the way and skewers it with a regular needle. The devotee collapses in a heap, with a vaporous "thread" extending from its head into the ceiling. The thread from it, and the other devotee, soon disappears. Kurusu then grabs up some weapons and prepares to head outside to rescue the real Mayu and Garama, telling Maki to stay and recover. As soon as he's gone, she pulls out some needles and performs acupuncture on herself to counter the remaining effects of the demon poison. The effects are rapid and she gets ready to look for her cell phone to call Taima, but a real demon shows up. It gets blocked by the force field and asks what she's doing there. Maki asks the same question back, and the demon answers that it's bringing food for the devotees, dropping a pile of demon body parts on her. Then it attempts to eat her next.

(Mayu and Garama after becoming demons.)

Outside, Kurusu is following another devotee that he's captured. The devotee takes him to an underground entrance through a parking lot filled with bikes and cars still fueled up and in working condition. They reach a camp fire, where the devotee comments on the delicious smell of cooked meat. Kurusu kills it, then inches forward and files a report on how the devotees eat each other for food.


Summary: Bad things happen to good people. They happen to bad people too. Much fighting and killing of demon-wannabees, and the introduction of a U.S. military specialist. Recommended.

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