Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
The Night Beyond the Tricorner Window
What did Hiyakawa mean when he told Mikado that he didn't know who he was? It turns out that's a very loaded question that has a lot of ties to not only Mikado's past and Erika's present, but also the entire chain of strange, paranormal murders and events that the two have been working on with their police connection Hanzawa. As we learn about what brought the men to where they are today, it becomes clearer and clearer that the same force has been orchestrating everything in their lives from long before their meeting. Is it the “destiny” that Hiyakawa so desires? Or could it be something much more sinister than any of them realize?
It is, I admit, more than a little baffling that Tomoko Yamashita's The Night Beyond the Tricorner Window is only being published by Viz Media's SuBLime BL imprint. That's not a censure so much as it is a regret, because while there are still double-entendres related to how Hiyakawa and Mikado combine their powers, on the whole the romantic subplot is far less important to these volumes than the simple fact of Hiyakawa needing a human connection of any stripe, and the paranormal mystery runs rings around anything romantic when it comes to driving the story. That means that this is a series with BL elements that has the potential to reach a much wider readership than many other series featuring romance between two men, and it being published as a digital-only title under the SuBLime imprint seems like it could keep the series from finding a lot of readers who would very much enjoy it.
That's almost doubly true for these four volumes when comparing them to the first three. While volume four still leans into the teasing double-entendres that mark the first three, those soon fade into the background in favor of exploring the pasts of the four main characters and how those influence their present. The most striking element here is the way that everything comes back, sooner or later, to the Professor, a mysterious man for whom Erika has been working and who looks an awful lot like Mikado. As it turns out, the Professor is more than just a nebulous evil forcing Erika to do his bidding. He's bound up with the resurgence of a religious cult known as the Hand of Light. As a child, Hiyakawa was involved in the first incarnation of the group, forced by his mother into using his spiritual powers as the group's center. While it may not look like child abuse in the Law & Order: SVU sense, it was still far from a healthy way for a child to grow up, and he spent most of his formative years isolated from all but his mother's disciples and the people who sought his help. The result was not only a tragedy of massive proportions when young Hiyakawa finally snapped in what looks to be his early teens, but also a man who has no clear moral code. Used by others for all of his childhood, Hiyakawa has no real understanding of right and wrong, because the two blurred together in his experiences with the cult. He has trouble feeling attachment to people, is unsure of whether he's good or bad in his actions both past and present, and copes with his general disconnect from humanity by doing what was done to him: using people and his powers to suit his needs. Hanzawa, who discovered him as the sole living person in the cult's headquarters, understands this better than even Hiyakawa realizes, but feels unable to do anything about it since Hiyakawa only barely lets him in. It's not until Mikado that Hiyakawa is finally able to make a human connection, but even then he has trouble communicating just why Mikado is important to him, or even truly communicating at all.
That Mikado is the one who breaks through Hiyakawa's barriers of emotions cauterized by childhood trauma may also be tied up in the cult. The second, or at least current, incarnation of the religious fringe group has what are increasingly looking like blood ties to Mikado: the suspicions we may have entertained in previous volumes about the Professor being Mikado's missing father appear to be true. Whether the Professor was a member of the first version of the cult who was simply absent the day that Hiyakawa snapped (or who managed to escape unbeknownst to anyone else) is still up in the air, but given the age difference between Hiyakawa and Mikado, it's not out of the realm of possibility. He met Mikado's mother in a park where she often found him just sitting like a lost soul; she went on to become a place of safety, peace, and emotional connection for the Professor – precisely what Mikado now is to Hiyakawa. When he eventually had to leave because he realized that she could only do that for either him or their son, we can surmise that he backslid dramatically, eventually ending up re-founding the cult under a slightly different name because that was all he knew. He then began doing to Erika what was originally done to Hiyakawa, with differences accounting for her brand of spiritual powers. This then raises the possibility that he's actually doing what was done to him as a child – was there actually an iteration of the cult before the one Hiyakawa was in? One that used the man now known as the Professor when he was a child? Given the cyclical nature of the way the cult functions, it seems like a very real possibility.
Another piece of what really works about this story is how we readers know all of this, but the characters each only know bits and pieces of each other's stories. Erika's is the best known because she's still a child among adults who want to help her – Mikado, her yakuza bodyguard, Hanzawa…even Hiyakawa to a degree wants to get her out of the situation she's stuck in, although there's a sense that Hiyakawa is much less invested in it than the others and is only going along with things because of Mikado. Just how this is going to come back to bite them isn't yet clear, but there's a good chance that it will, if only because the Professor has become warped by his own efforts to protect his heart by forgetting about his wife and son. Erika's situation does feel like the best chance they have of destroying the cult once and for all, but as we've seen at least once before, it's a tree with many roots, not all of which will be easy to dig out, even with the combination of powers (including Hanzawa's of disbelief in all things supernatural) present on the team.
Volume seven ends on a fairly brutal cliffhanger, and as of this writing there is no release date for volume eight. That shouldn't stop anyone from picking this series up, though – it's a very well put together paranormal mystery with dashes of horror sprinkled throughout that makes for books that are hard to put down. Don't let the imprint it's published under and the fact that two men may or may not end up as a couple prevent you from reading this dark delight.
Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : B
+ Everyone's pasts begin to come clear and bring disparate storylines together, good mystery and horror elements.
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