Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Shojo Beat: July '06

Shojo Beat celebrates its one year anniversary this month with a new title, Vampire Knight, taking over the spot left from Godchild's departure. Also, as advertised, the magazine is a full 235 color pages. Don't get too excited though. Their definition of color is printing the black inkwork in blue and pink, alternating by story. Nice and misleading, and at first, quite distracting, but I got over it. The first story I read, Vampire Knight, was the worst. It's kind of a strain to read a story in bright pink. My favorites, Absolute Boyfriend and Nana, were saved from that fate however, and appeared in a less obnoxious blue. Still, I say nay to this sort of format in the future. It does nothing to serve the art and at the very least, slightly hinders it.

Okay, I'm officially over it now. So moving on...Vampire Knight. Much better than Godchild. It's in the same vain - all gothic and supernatural with hot vampires and the like, but good. I could see myself following this story as it unfolds, and indeed plan to read the manga beyond its initial bow in this issue. So, the premise...a young girl Yuki goes to Cross Academy and is placed in the role of Guardian with the overly-serious Zero. As Guardians, the two must keep the two groups of students that attend school there, to minimal contact. There is a Day Class and a Night Class. Each evening when the Day Class leaves the school for their dorms, the beautiful Night Class passes by amid a wave of admiration. But what the Day Class doesn't know is that the Night Class consists of vampires. You see, the headmaster believes that humans and vampires can coexist, so he set this school up as a step in that direction while they develop a way for the vampires to take a blood substitute so as not to be tempted by their daytime counterparts. Yuki and Zero alone know this secret and make sure the Day Class doesn't sneak out past curfew or there's any mischief from the Night Class. There's one vampire, Kaname, who Yuki's infatuated with. He's kind and was the one who saved her from a vicious vampire attack when she was just five-years-old (she has no memory of prior events, thus her placement in care of the headmaster). There are plenty of secrets going on all around them and tension is high between Zero and the vampires. This first chapter sets up the fairly complicated premise, but it promises plenty of fun in the future.

In Absolute Boyfriend, Riiko is haunted by the choice before her: Night or Soshi. But there's so much more at stake in this issue, with Night in the arms of another woman. It's all very stressful. This chapter kind of concludes the story that's run through the past few issues of Shojo Beat, and it isn't the most satisfying closure to that part of Riiko and Night's story, but it was still good.

Nana. It's always those little moments in Nana that get me, where the characters pause in shock or try to brush something off as insignificant or just stare longingly up at a window, walk into a room worried... Ai Yazawa is just amazing. I can't say it enough. Her characters are so fully-realized that I hurt when they hurt. I watch in complete amazement as the story unfolds. Anyways, I love Shin and there's a lot of him in this issue, as well as some nice moments between the Nanas. My favorite part of this chapter was when Nana Komatsu calls Misato and just stares, wide-eyed when Misato reveals Nana Osaki's secret so nonchalantly. Then it's Komatsu thinking back to things said in front of Osaki and realizing the meaning behind them all. Well played, Yazawa.

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