Books that build a world and, whether fictional or not, have a sense of reality are golden. For the most part, Tezcatlipoca achieves this goal. The expansive underground criminal enterprises the world exists in are nerve-wracking and bloodthirsty. At the book’s center are a trio of people whose separate worlds slowly but surely shift closer to each other. If you’re looking for light-hearted fun, this book is not for you. Filled with bloodshed in the cutthroat world of drug cartels and black market organs, Tezcatlipoca traverses countries with Aztec gods at its root, reeling the reader into a riveting world that you’d never want to know firsthand.
Tezcatlipoca Begins With a Masterful Setup for Koshimo
The story, serialized in English from Yen Press and written by Kiwamu Sato with translation by Stephen Paul and cover art by Jun Kawana, begins with Lucía in Culiacán, Mexico. Her story is the backstory for Koshimo, one of the three main characters. But he does not exist yet. Lucía’s town and brother are victims of the drug cartels. So she leaves, eventually settling in Japan and marrying a Yakuza. Koshimo’s story is heartbreaking. Through no fault of his own, his parents ignore him when they’re not abusing him. Gyuutaro in Kimetsu No Yaiba is the only character that springs to mind that experiences that level of mistreatment.
Because of their negligence, Koshimo lacks verbal and written communication skills. Yet Kiwamu Sato capably weaves Koshimo’s thoughts. His thoughts have a shallow innocence yet possess hidden depths. The emotional neglect contributes directly to his stunted psychological growth. Abstract concepts like love and sadness are emotions he does not experience. He’s a child with the physical strength of a man. However, his thoughts are not malicious despite his atrocious upbringing.
Most Main and Minor Characters Receive Attention
However minor, Sato applies that same care to the other characters. Valmiro, a fallen leader of a Mexican drug cartel, plans to recapture his territory and crush his enemies. His backstory stretches back to his grandmother’s time. As his grandmother was Indigenous, she taught them about the old gods and their position in that world. This isn’t a benevolent god you pay to but one of blood sacrifices. Tezcatlipoca is a 500-page tome, but not a single page goes to waste. You’re unbothered even when backstories are long because you want to know.
Jaw-Dropping World Building
Kiwamu Sato’s descriptions of locations and characters allow you to envision the story effortlessly. It’s as though a film is playing across your mind. The details mix fiction with real sites and historical context. That drawing is nigh impossible to describe. But it’s not only the Aztecs. As the story traverses Mexico, Japan, and Indonesia with characters from other countries, it touches on words or phrases from all of them. Tezcatlipoca is a buildup or prequel moreso than the main event.
Tezcatlipoca‘s scope is grand, and its woven history even grander. The referenced materials play into the hyper-violent realism of the story. I’m a fan of ancient civilizations, so that’s an added plus to this story. But there are many moving parts before they converge, so make sure to focus. Kiwamu Sato’s Tezcatlipoca breathes details, making each one essential while delivering flawed villainous characters in action that you still want to know. This read like a full-length movie and it’s amazing.