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Lenniel has a problem. He has met his soul mate and they have literally connected their souls. This could be great, and indeed, in the past, this was a source of great joy for them both. The problem is Lenniel's lover Judas doesn't remember him at all, and is in love with some other guy! To make matters worse, Judas is a bit different than everyone else. His soul is unprotected, so that it can be stolen from his body, and this flaw causes a psychic resonance that attracts demons who desire his soul. It's a good thing Lenniel isn't human but an incubus then, and carries a demonic katana that he wields to protect his beloved. When the incubus of his unwanted, erotically charged dreams appears before him to defend him from a grief stricken ifrit out to steal his soul, Judas is more than a little confused and frightened. Just what is going on? Only Lenniel seems to know, but will Judas accept the truth? One thing is for certain, the world is a much more complicated place than Judas first believed...
Lenniel's troubles have only just truly begun and the ifrit 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. Recognising a kindred pain, Lenniel reaches out, surreptitiously tracking the ifrit back to his home. There the ifrit known as Kent sleeps, dreaming of his beloved, whose family he has served as a butler for over five generations. Waking from his dreams, he takes out a small box, in which unread letters reside. Letters from his beloved, sent while he was away at school and university. Letters he had not dared read lest he fall prey to temptation extended by words of love and longing, a line he sought not to cross.
A futile attempt, as when the young man returned, he came to claim his desires. Entering the room, Lenniel confronts the ifrit with the truthful consequences of what he had attempted to do would have wrought, then points out something the overwrought lover had not seen: the young man is not in need of a new soul, for his is till present, hidden away deep inside. All Kent has to do is make a deep connection, and help pull it forth. Unbeknownst to Kent, his love was indeed locked inside his body, but faint because his accident was not mere chance but a set up. A set up to lure the beloved of a demon into a dream world of despair. A dream world where a hidden enemy awaits: one of the fallen known as Azazel. Can Kent connect to his beloved heart and give him the strength to win against such a one?
Will his interference have repercussions for Lenniel and his own beloved Judas? Confronting Judas about his acquiescence while Kent tried to steal his soul, Lenniel learns a horrific truth: Judas does not value himself at al. His innermost self is as self hating and tortured as it was those several years past when Judas first met him. Can he awaken Judas from to his his own worth, as well his memories of their love? As painful as it is for Lenniel to discover, for Lenniel's "sister" Aleka it is even worse. With her own hidden feelings for Lenniel, she not only has to witness his love for another, but the immense distress at his love being "misplaced" as it were due to his beloved leaving the demon world and losing all memory of that time and place. Facing the depths of her own emotions, she grapples with the knowledge that if you truly love someone, you not only have to let them go, but act as a support so that they can perhaps achieve the happiness you so desire for them. Can she do it?
Volume three of Yayoi Neko's Incubus series introduces us not only to a new order of demonic being, but a formidable foe in the form of Azazel. With Lenniel's aid in helping solve his own woes, Kent stands poised where he can perhaps act as an ally as pressures from Heaven and hell conspire to keep Lenniel and Judas apart. Sharing one soul, the pair are inextricably linked emotionally, spiritually, and even occasionally physically, so this is a herculean task that the powers that be have taken on. Given the vast differences in power and strength, and the disadvantages of the situation at hand, Lenniel is still nonetheless faced with obstacles of epic proportions., especially given the way the frightened, confused, and self loathing Judas balks. They may be hellish creatures, but Kent's relationship shows that even a demon's love can be pure of heart. Lenniel is no slouch when it comes to the pure, bright flame of his love to, though as an incubus, it is admittedly also coloured with blatant desire.
With such passionate storylines, one would expect the art to reflect this, and once more, Neko does not let us down. Not only do we get detailed scenes of young men who LOOK like well proportioned men with actual musculature, but some very buff demons indeed. Azazel is a nice contrast to these; being a fallen angelic sort he is appropriately enough more of a sylph-like being with androgynous looks, but like the Biblical depictions of angelic beings from the Renaissance, has a lean, powerfully built body that exudes an aura of massive hidden strength. The dynamic motion shown during the fight scenes are as explosive as the uncensored love scenes are scorching, with a fluid sense of motion replete with shadings reminiscent of a western superhero comic. Swordplay here does not mean poncy guys posturing about waving a sword like Errol Flynn. It's brutal, with powerful swings and thrusts of katana slicing through flesh and connecting with bone. Blood sprays and splatters, feeding the demonic blood lust. Few these panels may be, but well used, sandwiched as they are as retrospectives between scenes of great tenderness and glimpses of mundane, ordinary life. It all ends at a good stopping place, but this is not the end of the saga quite yet.
An omake bit a the end is an illustrated letter from Neko to her readers, detailing her long battle with depression and the fact that she spent recent time recovering from a breakdown relating to an unrequited love of her own and an abrupt complete rejection of herself by the other party, apologising for the slow release of her work. Not only is that a very frank admission, but it speaks volumes as to how she was able to impart the palpable depths of despair and anguish mirrored in her creations. It is often said that an artist puts themselves into their works, and it seems that here, this is definitely so. Her own melancholy and sense of desperation must have allowed her to identify deeply with her characters, and as a result, the emotional punches in this volume come through loud and clear not only in prose, but through her artwork. Via email, she tells me she is indeed working on volume four, which I sincerely hope we see it on shelves soon. I wish Yayoi Neko a full recovery, a new and returned love, and of course, for a completed volume four (^_^) and beyond with good sales so that we and Lenniel can see final outcome for him and his beloved Judas.
This is available as a paperback from Kitty Media, the Boy's Love imprint owned by Media Blasters, and carries an 18+ rating. I'd like to thank Yayoi Neko for arranging for me to receive my review copy from Media Blasters.