With the Akane and Ainu people at one another’s throats, Kani, a girl with a foundation among both groups, offers to act as the intermediary and join the Order of Akane; however, on her way to meet with the rest of the order, she is tricked into the claws of some of the Yokai (demons) masquerading as the order of Akane.
This is a great-looking book. Akaneiro has a heavy anime influence in its design with a dash of fairytale and the completely alien design work of American McGee thrown in for good measure. The Yokai each have a different look and feel to them with most of them falling into the bizarre camp. Sure, there are your more traditional creatures: a fox demon, werewolves, and such, but we also see the likes of a little mushroom Yokai and creatures far too bizarre for me to slap a name or description to. The costume design is also pretty great, if not the most practical. With her kimono trashed, Kani switches it out for an armor and miniskirt number, the latter of which I personally wouldn’t want to be wearing while fighting, but I suppose if it worked for the Sailor Scouts . . .
Where this issue excels is the expansion of Yomi Island’s mythology, the qualities of the Yokai, and the differences between the Akane and Ainu peoples. The Yokai become much more than mindless animals in this issue, and it becomes clear how a people like the Ainu could come to worship them instead of fear them. Though the Yokai pretenders are trying to put Kani on a different path, she has a solid foundation of how the Order of Akane is supposed to work and watching her unlock her abilities and become a true demon hunter is fascinating. While it might seem obvious given the American McGee influence, between the Karma crystals and the unlocking of abilities, Akaneiro would make for a sweet video game. In addition, two of our other actual demon hunters, Mitsuo and Fumiyo, make a reappearance and tell another important part of the story as they try to locate the missing Kani. Though these characters still haven’t been shown a lot, I really like their attitudes and their friendship and can’t wait to see them get to interact some more with Kani and kick some Yokai butt in the next issue.
Four Fox/Demon/Gods out of Five