Tokyo Demons: Know What You Want

Tokyo Demons: Know What You WantAuthor: Lianne Sentar
Illustrator: Rem, Romy-chan, Tacto

Publisher: Chromatic Press
ISBN: 9780993861185
Released: February 2016

Ever since reading You’re Never Alone, the first novel in Lianne Sentar’s Tokyo Demons, I have been nearly consumed by everything even tangentially related to the trilogy. I find Tokyo Demons to be remarkably engaging and as the series has progressed I have become increasingly invested in both the story and its characters. Tokyo Demons has a small but very loyal fanbase, so perhaps it isn’t too surprising that it became one of the flagship titles not only for Chromatic Press and the Sparkler Monthly magazine but also for Cherry Bomb, an imprint that provides an opportunity for Sparkler Monthly creators to explore more mature, sexually-charged stories and themes. Know What You Want, released in 2016, is the first Cherry Bomb collection to be compiled. It brings together four Tokyo Demons Cherry Bomb stories–”Building Up,” “Coming Down,” “Never Again,” and “Save Me/Don’t Save Me”–originally published online between 2014 and 2015. The volume also includes illustrations by Rem and Romy-chan and collects “Once,” a related short story previously released in You’re Never Alone, and “Unsaid,” a comic illustrated by Tacto which was created specifically for Know What You Want.

Some of the stories collected in Know What You Want take place before the beginning of Tokyo Demons, effectively serving as prequels, while others actually take place during the events of the main series. Rather than being organized chronologically, the stories are arranged by character beginning with Ayase and Jo who are the two primary point-of-view protagonists of Tokyo Demons. “Building Up” shows Ayase consciously and subconsciously struggling to come to terms with her complicated and conflicted feelings for Kiyoshi while “Coming Down” delves into some of the more unfortunate parts of Jo’s past. The following three pieces–”Once,” “Never Again,” and “Save Me/Don’t Save Me”–form a triptych which turns to Sachi, a somewhat unexpected Tokyo Demons fan favorite, and more specifically to the shifting dynamics of his relationship with Kadoyuki. (Appropriately enough, Sachi is also the character featured on the collection’s front cover.) Know What You Want closes with “Unsaid” which examines Miki, another member of the series’ extended cast, and the painful ramifications of his devotion to Mitsuko.

"Coming Down"Know What You Want epitomizes what Cherry Bomb is all about. The content is mature but it has purpose and meaning behind it. While there is sex, the real focus is on the characters and their relationships with themselves and with one another. The stories collected in Know What You Want provide additional background details and greater insight into the characters and story of Tokyo Demons. The situations portrayed are alluded to within the novels, but reading Know What You Want isn’t at all necessary to understand the main series. Readers who aren’t interested in erotica can still enjoy Tokyo Demons without needing to delve into Know What You Want, but those who are will discover that the collection expands and deepens the already impressive characterization and worldbuilding present in the trilogy. To varying degrees, all of the stories in Know What You Want can stand on their own satisfactorily, but the collection is really intended for people who have read and who are familiar with Tokyo Demons–the stories lose some of their impact and underlying meaning if removed from the context of the series as a whole.

The Tokyo Demons Cherry Bomb stories have been affectionately termed miserotica by both their creators and fans and rightfully so. Know What You Want is an intentionally uncomfortable, heartwrenching, and heartbreaking collection. Many of the characters in Tokyo Demons are teenagers who come from broken or nearly nonexistent families and homes. They are young, awkward, and apt to make terrible but well-meaning decisions in their social and emotional immaturity. While they are strong in some ways they are fragile in others, understandably desperate for and terrified of intimacy and human connection. The characters of Tokyo Demons are all incredibly well-developed and relatable, but it’s Sachi with his heightened empathy who tends to be the character with whom I most personally resonate. Partly because of this, the fraught relationship between Sachi and Kadoyuki is one of my favorites in the series, so I’m happy to see it receive so much attention in Know What You Want. “Save Me/Don’t Save Me” is a particularly powerful and moving piece (I have honestly cried every time that I’ve read it), but the entire collection is a provocative exploration of the complexities of love, longing, and acceptance.

Giveaway: Sparkler Monthly Giveaway Winner

Tokyo Demons, Book 2: Add a Little ChaosAnd the winner of the Sparkler Monthly Giveaway is… AshLynx!

As the winner, AshLynx will get to choose one item from the Sparkler Online Shop in addition to receiving a copy of Tokyo Demons, Book 2: Add a Little Chaos written by Lianne Sentar and illustrated by Rem. I coordinated the giveaway to draw more attention to the Sparkler Monthly Year 3 Kickstarter campaign which I’m very happy to say was successful! I absolutely love the work being done at Chromatic Press and Sparkler Monthly, so I’m glad those efforts will be able to continue for at least another year. For the giveaway, I asked participants to tell me about some of their favorite Sparkler stories. Be sure to check out the Sparkler Monthly Giveaway comments for the detailed responses!

Finally, here’s the list of current ongoing series at Sparkler Monthly that will be able to continue thanks to the campaign’s success:

The Cat Lover’s Circumstances by LAMP and Aiwa
(Geeky Modern Comedy Audio Drama)

Gatesmith by Jen Lee Quick
(Dark Fantasy Western Comic)

Knights-Errant by Jennifer Doyle
(LGBT Historical Drama Comic)

Lettera by Studio Kosen
(Comedy Fantasy Adventure Comic)

Orange Junk by Heldrad
(Shoujo Romantic Comedy Comic)

Skyglass by Jenn Grunigen and Mookie
(Sci-Fi Musician Drama Prose)

Tokyo Demons by Lianne Sentar, Rebecca Scoble, Rem, and Romy-chan
(Urban Fantasy Adventure Drama Prose)

Windrose by Studio Kosen
(Historical Adventure Comic)

Witch’s Quarry by Jen Lee Quick
(LGBT Fantasy Adventure Comic)

The above list is only a selection of Sparkler Monthlys total output. It doesn’t include any of the stories that have already been completed or any of the new stories that will be added throughout the coming year. Thank you to everyone who shared their favorite Sparkler stories with me. (Sparkler fans are the best fans!) And if you don’t have a favorite yet, start exploring! With the range of formats, genres, characters, and stories, there’s bound to be something that you’ll find appealing. (And most of it’s free!) Personally, I haven’t been disappointed with anything from Sparkler Monthly and am thrilled that there will be even more content in the future.


Giveaway: Sparkler Monthly Giveaway

The end of July quickly approaches, as does the end of the Sparkler Monthly: Year 3 Kickstarter. The campaign hasn’t quite reached its goal yet, but I desperately want it to succeed. With that in mind, hoping to draw more attention to the project, this month’s giveaway will be a little different than usual. I happen to have an extra copy of Tokyo Demons, Book 2 to give away, but that’s not all I’m offering. The winner of the contest will also be able to choose one item (physical/print or digital) from the Sparkler Online Shop! (Yes, a Year+ gift subscription to the magazine, which also includes a free ebook, is a completely valid option.) As always, the giveaway is open worldwide!

Tokyo Demons, Book 2: Add a Little Chaos

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Sparkler Monthly and Chromatic Press. I’m fairly obsessed with Tokyo Demons and I adore Off*Beat, and so when those two series became the flagship titles for the newly established publisher in 2013, I knew it was time to pay attention. It was the right decision. I honestly haven’t been disappointed by a single thing that I’ve read (or listened to) that has been released in Sparkler Monthly. (Just take a look at the Chromatic Press tag for my in-depth reviews and features of a small selection of the content.) Sparkler Monthly is a multimedia magazine that includes prose, comics, and audio, and I devour it all. I love the range of formats and genres, the diverse stories and characters; the variety found in Sparkler Monthly is one of its greatest strengths, and more is constantly being added.

The work the creators and staff are doing through Sparkler Monthly is phenomenal. It would be tragic if they can’t garner the support to continue. So please, if you haven’t already, give the fantastic stories of Sparkler Monthly a try. Almost everything is available online for free, so there’s no excuse! And if you like what you see and/or hear, please consider donating to the Kickstarter campaign, too.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win a copy of Tokyo Demons, Book 2 AND one other Sparkler goody of your choice?

1) In the comments below, name one of your favorite Sparkler Monthly stories and write a little about why you like it. (Never experienced Sparkler? Now’s the time to check it out!)
2) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting, or retweeting, about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

That’s all there is to it! Each person can earn up to two entries for this giveaway and has one week to submit comments. Entries can also be sent to me via email at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com if you have trouble with the comment form or if you would prefer. I will then post the comments here in your name. The giveaway winner will be randomly selected and announced on August 5, 2015. Good luck and happy reading!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address in the comment form, a link to your website, Twitter username, or whatever. If I can’t figure out how to get a hold of you and you win, I’ll just draw another name.

Contest winner announced–Giveaway: Sparkler Monthly Giveaway Winner


Tokyo Demons, Book 2: Add a Little Chaos

Tokyo Demons, Book 2: Add a Little ChaosAuthor: Lianne Sentar
Illustrator: Rem

Publisher: Chromatic Press
ISBN: 9780993861109
Released: December 2014

For some very silly reasons, most of which are now unclear to me, initially I was hesitant to read Tokyo Demons, a trilogy of novels written by Lianne Sentar and illustrated by Rem. But after finishing the first volume, You’re Never Alone, I was hooked. I immediately went out and devoured all of the bonus content and side stories that I could find. Honestly, I hadn’t been so excited and captivated by a series in a very long time. Soon after, Tokyo Demons became one of the flagship titles for Chromatic Press. Tokyo Demons, Book 2: Add a Little Chaos was originally serialized online between 2012 and 2014. Later in 2014 it underwent final revisions and was collected into a single volume along with two additional side stories which delve further into the pasts of some of the characters. Despite my obsession with the series, for the most part I was able to restrain myself from reading Add a Little Chaos until the novel was completed. It was a difficult wait, and so I was thrilled when the second book was finished so that I could read it.

Kiyoshi has been rescued and Core’s attack on the Byakko gang at Kiseki was able to be fended off, albeit not without casualties. The survivors who have taken refuge with the Church and sided against Core are still in danger though. Under the influence of Pitch, a powerful and highly addictive drug that he was forced to take, and due to the trauma of his kidnapping, Kiyoshi is no longer the person he once was physically, mentally, or emotionally. In fact, after being caught up in something with even graver implications than the simple drug war it initially seemed to be, everyone has changed. Ayase, Jo, Sachi, and all of their friends and allies are fighting for their lives and none of them are unaffected by the violence surrounding them. They are doing all that they can with the limited information that they have to fight against Core and save the others of their group who are still caught within its grasp. Working with the Church’s resources, members of Byakko, and contacts within the police force, as well as with some unexpected aid from within Core itself, they may have a chance. But everyone has their own agendas and it’s becoming more and more difficult to know who and what can be trusted.

As with many second volumes in a trilogy, the situation the characters find themselves in quickly escalates from bad to worse in Add a Little Chaos. Tokyo Demons has always been fairly hard-hitting, dealing with heavy themes like psychological and physical abuse and violence, but Add a Little Chaos goes to some very dark places. I have come to care about all of the characters in Tokyo Demons immensely, many of whom are broken and damaged people with tragic pasts, horrible presents, and grim futures. They are all so incredibly desperate to be strong and to protect themselves and the ones that they care about the most. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see them go about it in the wrong ways, even when they’re doing the best that they can and what they believe to be right. Some of them are able to find a few brief moments of comfort with one another that they cling to only to have them ripped away by the chaos enveloping them. With layers upon layers of loyalty and betrayal, each revelation in Tokyo Demons is shocking and gut-wrenching, not only for the characters who have to deal with the immediate consequences, but also for the readers who can do nothing but witness it all happen.

Tokyo Demons is a complex and multilayered series; many of the seemingly independent storylines which were introduced in the first volume are now beginning to crash together in Add a Little Chaos and additional plot developments have been set into motion. Tokyo Demons also features a large and diverse cast of extremely complicated characters. Their even more complicated connections to one another are critical to the story as well. How they deal with their own personal struggles impacts the people around them as well as the larger conflict in which they find themselves. Even considering all of the superhuman elements and psychic abilities involved in Tokyo Demons, what make the series so compelling and engaging are its believably flawed, exceptionally nuanced, and constantly evolving characters and the constantly shifting dynamics of their relationships. From the beginning of the series alone I could tell that the scope of Tokyo Demons was going to be huge. If anything the story only continues to expand with Add a Little Chaos and increase in its intensity. I am still absolutely loving Tokyo Demons and am both looking forward to and dreading its conclusion.

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.