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Yaoi Review: Madness, Volume 1


It's 3000 A.D., and the livin' ain't easy.  Not by a long shot.  Three hundred years before, massive earthquakes have destroyed life as we knew it, and lawless times have ensued, while nations scramble to restore the equilibrium of what once was.  Violence has become commonplace in this fearful new world, with no rhyme or reason, led by a group whose very name evokes panic and fear – they style themselves "Madness" and they answer to no one and nothing.  Now the war has passed, their leader Kyo having been killed three years before, Madness is disbanded, and yet the individual members continue to kill.  This is where we begin the tale of Madness by Kairi Shimotsuki.  Izaya is a priest in the church of Saint Shuhamiel, located in the border town of Philistine on the Western Continent.  He cares for a prisoner in the depths of the church, one who was imprisoned  three years previously by his predecessor,  along with the prisoner's sword Siegfriend.  The man is an amnesiac who in actuality is none other than Kyo, the very same leader of Madness believed to have died!  Izaya has found him to be a very gentle man (despite the fact that he continually asks to be freed in order to touch the priest), and they pray together every day.  Their placid lives are shattered, however, when Sae, a former member of Madness, comes to town, spreading death and mayhem, in order to obtain the famous sword of his fallen leader.   He likes the looks of the pretty Izaya, and intends to take them both, but the scent of blood has awakened something in Kyo, who escapes his cell and confronts him.  A fight is prevented by the peacemaker Izaya, and Sae runs – for now. Izaya can hardly believe the change in Kyo, who has apparently turned into a vicious killer who is intent on having his way with the priest, only to be interrupted by the return of  Sae, who is known for collecting the "masks", or faces, of his victims, who reveals to Kyo that which he is unaware of – that everyone believes him to be dead.  Kyo goes completely ballistic and kills Sae, but is prevented from taking the lives of the villagers through the calming influence of Izaya.  Kyo then decides to become a bounty hunter, and forces Izaya to go with him to act as his suppress, his price for sparing the villagers' lives.
Kyo and Izaya travel to Belk, a port town from where they can gain passage to the main continent. While Kyo takes Siegfriend to the blacksmith, Izaya turns in the head of Sae for a bounty, drawing a crowd who believe him to be the one to have killed him.  One persistent man follows Izaya, seeking to learn the secret of Sae's death, believing that the priest's companion actually did it.  They are beset by beggars, and the stranger – along with Kyo – slay them, to Izaya's dismay, who tries to make them see that violence is not the answer.The newcomer, who turns out to be a former member of Madness named Oboro, is outraged at Kyo's "impersonation" of their late leader, especially as he does not have his sword with him, and the two battle it out until Kyo convinces him of who he is.  To keep Kyo from killing Oboro, Izaya uses his ability as a suppress to calm him down and bring back the inner gentle man, who proceeds to try to have his way with the priest, with rather unsatisfactory results for them both. Kyo and Oboro come to terms with one another, Oboro having accepted who Kyo really is,  and Oboro decides to follow the two as they leave town, crossing the Aldaba Ocean by ship.  While on board the ship, Oboro espies a disturbing sight – a bird which belongs to the woman who "killed" Kyo three years ago, an albino by the name of Miyabi, who was his suppress before Izaya.  The jealous priest deduces that she and Kyo must have been lovers.  Oboro tries to convince Kyo that it is not her bird, but he plunges recklessly into the port of Salbert, seeking her, Oboro and Izaya close behind.  Izaya becomes separated from the two men and ends up in trouble, being kidnapped and taken to a brothel where a rather unsavory man plans to take him against his will, if not for the intervention of one of the whores by the name of Urara who convinces the man to use her for his needs instead, and not touch the boy.  Izaya is grateful to his saviour, although rather disturbed at having to watch their coupling, but she doesn't mind, as she is a professional.  Kyo, realizing that Izaya is missing, must choose between seeking Miyabi or Izaya, and chooses the latter. Izaya, meanwhile, attempts to convince Urara that she is not the hardened whore she believes herself to be, that she is a caring person beneath.  Kyo and Oboro catch up with the bird they are chasing, which catches up with its owner, who turns out to be none other than Urara!  She and Kyo fly at each other and if not for Izaya, blood would be spilt, but he intercedes, giving her a chance to get away, which angers Kyo, who is also furious at finding Izaya dressed up like a whore, and on friendly terms with his ex-suppress.  Izaya attempts to find Miyabi, only to learn that she has been sold, and the three men go after her.  The man who has purchased her not only knows who she is, but is a former victim of Madness who is seeking vengeance against them!
The journey now begins to resemble a road trip, when Miyabi joins the fellowship – not on the road to Damascus, or even Singapore, but to being bounty hunters.  Izaya finds that he is jealous of the relationship that Kyo and Miyabi once shared, although no one has ever confirmed that they were lovers, he is making assumptions.  He cannot help but be drawn to the gentle man that once he knew, convinced that this man still resides within Kyo.  And Kyo, although a tough bounty hunter and cold blooded killer finds himself attracted to the priest in the same way.  Which doesn't please Oboro, who harbors his own feelings about Kyo, although these feelings are not reciprocated by him.  Izaya is almost a pawn between Kyo and Miyabi.  He believes in her as a good person, but he is drawn to Kyo in a way in which he does not understand, and although he fights against Kyo's desires, he also gives in to them rather willingly.  Kyo is an interesting character, for there seems to be two men inside one body – the former Madness leader and coldblooded killer/bounty hunter as well as the gentle man who has intrigued Izaya so.  I am looking forward to seeing more of their developing relationship.  I would like to see more character development from the author as well, to counterbalance the plot,  and I would also be pleased with a little less of the bust shots of Miyabi (generally not a problem found in a yaoi novel).  Kairi Shimotsuki has set up an interesting story here, if she can continue in the same vein.  She mixes a touch of sci fi with a bit of dark humor and a helping of boys love to come up with a potentially interesting concoction.  Only time will tell if the next volume lives up to the promise of its beginning.
Comicsonline gives Madness 4 out of 5 bounty hunters.

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