Lenniel's troubles have only just truly begun. Facing the iffrit in the lonely warehouse that appeared at the end of volume one, they do battle. Losing means Judas' soul will be taken. Needless to say, that will kill him, and put paid to Lenniel's attempts to help Judas recollect his lost memories of the time five years ago when they were lovers. The iffrit has his own issues, with his own human seemingly lost to him. Locked into a coma, the human lover of the iffrit is alive, but his soul seems to have fled. But has it? Having to gracefully accept defeat at Lenniel's hands, he knows he must find another way. Like Lenniel, he must face up to the truth and never give up, reaching out to that which is buried deep within the one he loves.
In the meantime Judas is trying desperately to process the strange goings on. Barely having come to grips with the incubus from his dreams showing up in the flesh, he faces the battle between incubus Lenniel and the strange iffrit with seeming indifference tinged with fear and more than a little despair. Why is he this way? What wound lies within him that not only submerged his memories of the happy times spent with his lover in the demon world, but refuses to allow him to connect with people in this one?Why is he so ready to just give up on himself? The answer lies in childhood memories that come flooding back as he faces what he thinks may be his last moments, memories that imprinted his own ideas of his self worth. Indeed, one gets the impression that his refusal to reach towards the memories of love and happiness may be a form of punishment to himself. As the memories tickle and lead him towards acceptance of Lenniel, he not only struggles internally with reasons why he should deny himself and push Lenniel awy, but cause him to act out.
But pushing Lenniel away may not be as simple as he thinks. For once home, another demon comes calling. Is it another come to take his soul? No, it is Lenniel's older sister Aleka, come to find her brother. She seems to know quite a lot about the pair, and fills in some missing gaps. Gaps which threaten to overwhelm Judas as he discovers that he cannot ever renounce Lenniel for one very important reason: they share the same soul so can never truly be parted. But what does this mean precisely? Will he merely have to put up with the incubus hanging about in his life, or does he truly have to accept that while he thinks he loves his professor, he truly is one heart and soul with Lenny?Regardless of the answer, it is obvious that the true enemy is not those who wish to merely steal Judas' soul in their quest to restore life to a loved one or in order to make a grab at being human, but the self loathing and despair that clouds Judas' heart and mind. Is this an enemy that Lenniel can defeat? And will he even be given the opportunity to after Judas discovers a startling truth about Lenniel and the grievous wound upon Judas' own shoulder?
Volume two of American mangaka Yayoi Neko sensei's Incubus series picks up from the very instant that the last book left us at. It gives a serial type effect that works quite well and allows the reader to dive back in to the plot without feeling that they missed something. This volume deals with memories, both remembered and forgotten, not only providing some needed back story but also greatly adding to the character development. The introduction of Kent, the iffrit come butler out to grab a soul for his comatose human lover, is a welcome one. Rather than some random monster of the day introduced to merely add a bit of action, he provides us with a sub-plot that runs in parallel. It adds dimension to the world our characters live in, as we see beyond the few places that our two protagonists inhabit.
Lenniel's sister Aleka is interesting in that she is not only the first female character introduced in the series, but one that sees Judas as a rival somewhat. Her love for her brother is absolute; she tolerates and accepts Judas because she must, but should he hurt Lenniel, the strong impression is given that he will more than live to regret it, suffering as much as possible with harming Lenniel in the process. She adds texture to the woven tapestry that is appearing in the form of the story, with the human world and the demon world side by side yet separate and adds needed context to the maelstrom of emotions being felt by all. I quite like how Neko has avoided the typical BL cliché of having her be whiny or obnoxious and unlikeable while still maintaining her strong confrontational personality.
As full on as the the emotions are, so is the art. The first volume was well executed, doing great credit as a début piece. By this time, however, the work has become more refined. The hallmarks are all still there proclaiming Neko sensei's unique sense of style: bold strokes, buff men, and a sense of vivid movement. The shading work is done well, used to great effect to add a sense of overshadowing darkness even in the comedic panels that pop up to help lighten the piece. The sex scenes are passionate and I particularly found the facial expressions during these excellently done. Not a single carefully poised expression worthy of an alluring porn mag shot to be found here. From the salacious leer of one who has pinned his prey where he wants it, to the adoring concentration of one carefully attending to his lover's needs, to the look of sheer abandonment to the ecstasy of sensation, they are all meticulously rendered with great effect.
As you might surmise given the content, this is not a graphic novel aimed at the young adult market, but one that carries a parental advisory and an 18+ rating. Because of this, don't expect to find it stocked at your local corner bookshop or to sat idly waiting on the shelves at your local Waterstones (though if you have the ISBN, they can order it in for you). Forbidden Planet is a good bet, as their US online store stocks it, and it can also be found quite easily at Amazon. Wherever you source it, if you like angsty love stories featuring demons and other supernatural beings, laced with a healthy dose of humour, then this will definitely appeal and be well worth the effort. Just be sure to get the first volume as well, as this runs serial style and without it, this volume will leave you a bit lost.
***I would like to thank Yayoi Neko and Media Blasters for being so kind as to provide me a review copy."