Random Musings: Tokyo Demons

Last week I reviewed Tokyo Demons, Book 1: You’re Never Alone by Lianne Sentar. Long story short, I loved it. In the process of writing the review, I quickly discovered that there was a lot more that I wanted to say about Tokyo Demons in general. Serialized online and written in the tradition of Japanese light novels, Tokyo Demons has expanded to include dramatized audio books, comics, short stories, games, and more. Since reading the first volume, I’ve nearly become obsessed with Tokyo Demons in all of its incarnations. Seriously, I haven’t been this excited about a series in a very long time. So please excuse me while I gush about it for a bit.

The Story
Tokyo Demons will be a trilogy although two sequel series, Tokyo Ghosts and Tokyo Angels, are planned as well. To be honest, Tokyo Demons is a little weak in the beginning; I was even a little worried about some of the potential cliches. But after a few chapters, it really takes off and the scope is huge. The story is packed with action, cussing, humor, supernatural abilities, drama, and awkward teenage romance. Overall, I found it to be exciting, engaging, and entertaining. Tokyo Demons can also be rather dark and tragic at times. Terrible things happen to the characters in both the past and the present. The characters’ relationships to and with one another—romantic, platonic, familial…the list could go on—are also extremely important to the story.

The Characters
And speaking of the characters, they are one of the reasons that Tokyo Demons works so well for me. The entire cast has a lot of personality (which happens to come across fabulously in the audio drama.) The characters have layers and they’re not always particularly likeable at first. But as Tokyo Demons progresses more and more is revealed about them and they grow and change over time. The characterizations are complicated and the morality is often grey—the protagonists and antagonists have both good and bad qualities and it’s not always easy to tell who belongs in which group. The characters don’t fit into neat little boxes or stereotypes.

The Goods
The serialized version of the novels and the audio drama are available for free online at the Tokyo Demons website. Other bonus materials are also available for free: character guides, relationship charts, timelines, comics, illustrations, previews of the short stories, and so on. The Tokyo Demons visual novel Get It Together and the card game Your Number’s Up are currently in production. The finalized editions of the materials (both physical and digital) as well as additional content only available for purchase can be found through the Tokyo Demons store. Also available through the store are art prints, posters, bookmarks, key chains, buttons, and other merchandise.

The Creators
Lianne Sentar is Tokyo Demons writer and head administrator. She works very closely with Rebecca Scoble who serves as the head editor in addition to producing and directing the audio dramas. They are supported by multiple illustrators, designers, and an entire cast of voice actors. It’s obvious from wandering around the Tokyo Demons website and listening to the free talks that the creators have a tremendous amount of love for their work. They are all enjoying themselves and have a great sense of humor. Their enthusiasm is persuasive. In addition, Lianne and Rebecca are particularly accessible to fans on the website and through other social media outlets. My personal interactions have all been wonderful. (It’s nice to know that they’re great people.)

The Fans
I’ll readily admit that I tend to be more of a lurker when it comes to online communities but there are plenty of other fans of Tokyo Demons who regularly comment on the the site, interact with each other, and show their support through fan art and fan fiction (which the creators wholeheartedly encourage.) In 2012, a Tokyo Demons Kickstarter project was launched to fund the second novel and better audio equipment. It reached more than double its initial goal. In fact, there has been so much support for Tokyo Demons that the creators were able to quit their jobs to focus on Tokyo Demons and their manga-industry work full time in addition to helping to launch Chromatic Press.

The Publisher
In part, Tokyo Demons served as a test project for the newly formed Chromatic Press as a way to explore publishing formats and distribution models and to determine what sorts of multimedia opportunities would be possible. The first novel is currently being revised for a new Chromatic Press edition and the series will continue to be released by the publisher—Tokyo Demons is one of the flagships for Chromatic Press. I am very excited to see what Chromatic Press has in store, not just for Tokyo Demons but for all of its titles.