Monday, September 18, 2006

Manga Monday 9

This week in Manga Monday, I'm going to take a look at Infinity Studios' Blood Alone, and take a peek at two new titles that debuted in this month's Shojo Beat!

Blood Alone (Volume 1)
Masayuki Takano

Takano’s Blood Alone follows the relationship of Kuroe and Misaki, the latter of which is a vampire. Both of these characters have been touched by the supernatural, and their gifts can be very beneficial when helping the local police, or someone who has merely lost their pet cat. But the relationship between the two characters is the most disturbing aspect of the manga title, as Kuroe is a full-grown man and Misaki…well, she looks (and acts) like a twelve-year-old. And since she doesn’t know what a cold is (?), she could be a lot younger than that. During a calm, collected conversation with little boy vampire Higure, Misaki watches as he kisses his adult lover goodbye, before the boy makes a knowing comment about Misaki’s own attractive man. Okay…I think the idea of a young child-like vampire luring older men to sate their desires is an interesting idea. But unlike the aged-beyond-his-youthful-complexion Higure, Misaki is a child still and it makes for a bit of an uncomfortable read. Kuroe doesn’t make any moves on the little girl, but he does take her on dates, sleeps in the same bed and is completely aware of her love for him. If the relationships had been played out a little differently or with a little more depth, I think the pedophelia could have made for an intriguing story between an immortal and a mortal, could have even shed a sympathetic, tragic light on the couple...unfortunately, the writer does little to make it interesting or very realistic.

Aside from the strange relationship showcased in this book, the characters feel rather flat and the situations with serial killers and spirits are uninspired and retread ideas seen in hundreds of other supernatural stories. The author attempts to graft some weak additions to the vampire mythos, but succeeds only in making those scary elements silly, much like the epilogue of the three-part story "Soul Slave" that makes up the bulk of this volume.

The art on this book is really nice, but when Takano tries his hand at some experimental panel arrangements in the "Clasp Your Hand" chapter, he only confuses readers and leaves this first volume on a clumsy note, giving the reader little reason to read more. D

Shojo Beat: October 2006
Shojo Beat weeded out another title from their monthly anthology, replacing Kaze Hikaru with Backstage Prince (and pretty quickly after Vampire Knight took Godchild's place). While Vampire Knight has turned out to be a disappointment, the new Backstage Prince shows real promise, as does the sneak peek at Tail of the Moon.

Tail of the Moon
Rinko Ueda

Tail of the Moon is about Usagi, a teenaged girl who's kind of seen as a joke, as she's an undisciplined klutz in a village of ninja. Realizing that there's little hope for progress, she is sent out of town by her great-grandfather to marry a handsome lord in a neighboring ninja town. Things don't go very smoothly, but Usagi is determined to carry out her mission, and uses her own gifts to try to win the heart of the ninja lord. Great plot, great pacing. A-

Backstage Prince
Kanoko Sakurakoji

The new ongoing title of the magazine, Backstage Prince, sees Akari innocently step into the role of assistant to a famous Kabuki actor, Ryusei, who is known to be very cold toward people in general. They develop a friendship that's new to the clueless-about-boys Akari and the distant Ryusei. It's really wonderful watching these characters interact with each other and grow closer with each turn of the page. A

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