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Deva Zan by Yoshitaka Amano

Deva Zan

by Yoshitaka Amano

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This is a stand alone book done by the artist Amano who has contributed art to both the Vampire HUnter D series as well as Final Fantasy (among a million other things). He is one of my favorite artists, so when I stumbled upon this in Half Price Books I was excited to pick it up.

This book deals with the mythology of Japanese Buddhism. In this book the twelve Juni Jinsho stood guard over the cosmos, each guarding a point on the zodiac…now they have vanished leaving humanity to fight against the forces of darkness on their own. Enter Deva Zan, a samurai with no memory who ends up journeying through time and space to find the Juni Jinsho and help restore their memory.

This book contains some amazing artwork, which I absolutely loved. The art pretty much makes this book. The book is amazingly well put together, it is a large volume with huge color plates and very high quality.

The story was decent and focuses mainly on Japanese mythology and one samurai’s quest to find the Juni Jinsho and help them remember themselves. The Juni Jinsho themselves end up being pretty stereotypical characters who vary in quality; some of them are incredibly interesting and some are forgettable.

The story is decently done, but can be a bit confusing and ambiguous at times. It jumps around some in space and time, but in the end everything came together nicely. The story does lag a bit at some points and, to be honest, it was the awesome art rather than the story that really drove me to keep reading the story.

Overall this book had some amazing art and a decent story. I enjoyed learning some about the Juni Jinsho and enjoyed some of the characters throughout. The art, more than story, was what made this book engaging. I would recommend for fans of Amano’s art and also for fans of the Vampire Hunter D series (the story has a similar tone to it). ( )
  krau0098 | Sep 10, 2015 |
Deva Zan: The Chosen Path is Yoshitaka Amano's debut novel. Amano is known across the globe for his illustrative work and character designs, and in the West particularly for his involvement with Final Fantasy, Vampire Hunter D, and Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: The Dream Hunters. At one time or another, Amano has lent his skills to novels, comics and manga, video games, and animation. Deva Zan is a project that he has been working on for more than a decade. The novel, which includes more than two hundred previously unpublished illustrations and paintings, is the first incarnation of the story to be released. Deva Zan was first and originally published in English by Dark Horse with a translation by John Thomas in 2013. Deva Zan is the first time that Amano has been completely responsible for both a work's story and art.

At the end of the Edo period lived a hero, a young samurai by the name of Yoshitsugu Kamishiro. While engaged in battle he slips into another world where he discovers his true identity. Though he has no memory of it he is Zan, one of the Twelve Divine Generals and servant to Lady Mariu, the guardian deity of light. The Army of Light fights for creation against the forces of darkness--the Dark Corp--lead by the demon Moma. While Zan was warring in Japan, the battle between darkness and light, order and chaos continued without him. But now that Zan is aware of who he is, he embarks upon a journey of self-discovery through space and time, searching for the other lost generals in an attempt to remember his past. As the Army of Light gathers again, so does the Dark Corps--two sides of an endless conflict which will determine the fate of the world and universe.

Deva Zan isn't so much an illustrated novel as it is an artbook with accompanying text. The narrative and writing style is impressionistic, consisting of dream-like sequences. Amano seems to have focused on creating an atmosphere rather than establishing a detailed or overly coherent plot. While the story of Deva Zan is interesting, incorporating Hindu and Buddhist elements with philosophical and cosmological implications, on its own it doesn't leave much of a lasting impression. However, alongside Amano's illustrations, it does create a nice effect overall. But even so, the story always feels secondary to the artwork. And in fact that was how Amano approached the Deva Zan novel--developing the textual narrative to fit the themes of the artwork rather than the other way around.

For me, Deva Zan works much better as an artbook than as a novel. I'll admit, I have always enjoyed Amano's illustrations. Deva Zan is a great and varied collection presented nicely as an oversized, hardcover volume. The individual pieces exhibit a range of styles and techniques. Some are complete, finished works while others, though no less arresting, seem to be concept sketches and designs. Amano is just as skilled working in vibrant, almost garish color palettes as he is in more muted and monochromatic schemes. His illustrations are striking and ethereal, whether he is portraying a stylized fantasy world or dealing in the abstract. Although reading Deva Zan was intriguing and I appreciate Amano's involvement in all aspects of the work, I find that I'm just as happy flipping through the volume to linger on the artwork alone.

Experiments in Manga ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Jun 28, 2013 |
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In his 40-year career, Yoshitaka Amano has illustrated many projects, becoming famous for "Final Fantasy" and "Vampire Hunter D". But never before has Amano written the visions he depicts-never until now! Dark Horse has the honor to publish "Deva Zan", Yoshitaka Amano's first fantasy novel as an author as well as an illustrator! An epic ten years in the planning, Amano has made Deva Zan as his personal expression of the legends of Asia for his Western readership. Japanese Buddhism, twelve generals - the Juni Jinsho - stood guard over the cosmos at the points of the zodiac. But now they have vanished, and nothing stands between us and the forces of darkness but Deva Zan, a samurai without a memory. To restore order to existence, he must marshal not only his own fighting skill, but find companions that can cross the boundaries of time and space-to join him in a battle that will stretch from the fields of ancient Japan, to the streets of modern New York City - and to dimensions beyond human comprehension.… (more)

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