Genre: Yaoi, Fantasy
Rating: Mature (18+)
Price: US/$11.99 CAN/$14.95
“The curse of the magical crimson sword has turned Prince Vald into a monster… to break the spell, he sets out onto a journey with the sexy and gorgeous magician, Havi. Vald has no idea that when he turns into a beast at night, Havi uses his “unique talents” to pacify his beastly appetites… the luscious journey of Vald and Havi begins.”
Famed for her steely-eyed men who know how to wear a suit, Ayano Yamane switches to something a little different here. Crimson Spell is a fantasy yaoi complete with knights and Kings, demons and sorcerers. A magical sword has cursed Prince Vald, causing him to turn into a demonic creature at night, with no memories of his actions the next day. The sorcerer, Havi, sets out on a journey with the Prince in the hopes of finding a way to break the curse, not to mention tend to the Prince’s demonic needs when night falls.
It’s not difficult to see where the yaoi aspect of the story falls into place. When Prince Vald turns into a demon he becomes aggressive and overwhelmed with his own magical energy. To ease the Prince’s suffering due to this, as well as quench his own desires for the attractive young man, Havi takes him in feats of passion one night after another. Prince Vald, in turn, has no recollection of the acts and thus continues on his journey to find a ‘cure’ for himself alongside Havi and Liethregveel (a small magical creature that Vald renames Rulka).
Volume one of Crimson Spell works to set up the lead characters, and their quest, as well as introduce a variety of secondary characters that set up both past events and future occurrences. Havi and Vald get to know each other in more ways than one and readers learn that there may be just as many issues for Havi to face as Vald. The story works as a good solid spine for a yaoi, which often rely on little past the relationship between its title characters.
The artwork is definitely one of the book’s strongest attributes. Ayano Yamane is no newcomer to the manga scene and it’s evident by the polished and refined style. There’s a smooth sense of pacing accompanying the well-placed panels and fine detailing on clothes, setting and expression. The men are all handsome and certainly easy on the eyes, portraying strong attributes of beauty while maintaining masculine features. Action scenes are really well rendered, whether it’s a flaring magic battle, sword duel or steamy (and fully uncensored) sexual affair.
Crimson Spell was treated with a pretty good English release that does a decent job of complimenting the story. It’s a small looking book visually, very thin, but certainly doesn’t feel as lacking after its read as it looks at first glance. The front and back covers are attractive and eye-catching, the Kitty Media staff doing a nice job creating the title logo. Unfortunately the leather-clad cat girl that adorns all their releases on the spine continues to seem completely out of place on their yaoi books. The translation is easy to understand though suffers from a few spelling issues throughout and the font isn’t terribly attractive, especially when it never remains completely consistent.
In the after word, Ayano Yamane says that she was told that yaoi and fantasy don’t mix. It doesn’t take much to realize she proved those people wrong with Crimson Spell. It’s a little rough around the edges at times but is overall a vibrant world brought to life by its gorgeous cast of characters and interesting storyline (the tentacle sex bonus story doesn’t hurt either).