My News and Reviews
Last week was apparently mountain survival week here at Experiments in Manga. I posted two reviews, both of which had something to do with life and death situations in the mountains. It wasn't really intentional either; it just happened to work out that way. The first review was of Jirō Nitta's historical novel Death March on Mount Hakkōda, which is about a disastrous military winter exercise known as the Hakkōda Mountains Incident that occurred in Japan in 1902. I first learned about the incident while reading Hiroko Yoda and Matt Alt's Yurei Attack!. Nitta has done his research; Death March on Mount Hakkōda is a chilling account. For my second review last week, I took a look Baku Yumemakura and Jiro Taniguchi's The Summit of the Gods, Volume 1. The series is my favorite Taniguchi collaboration currently available in English. The artwork is phenomenal and the characters are compelling. In time, I plan to review the entire series.
This week is the Vampire Manga Moveable Feast! Anne at Chic Pixel is hosting for the very first time, so let's all show some support. As part of my contribution to the Feast, I have a bunch of vampire manga quick takes below. Later this week, I will be posting a review of the first volume of Saiko Takaki's manga adaptation of Vampire Hunter D. I'll also be posting a review of the third volume of the English-language release of Yashakiden: The Demon Princess by Hideyuki Kikuchi. Although it's not manga, Yashakiden most certainly fits in with this week's vampire theme.
Blood Sucker: Legend of Zipangu, Volumes 1-4 written by Saki Okuse and illustrated by Aki Shimizu. With vampires, organized crime, religious cults, and assassins, Blood Sucker has plenty of violent, bloody action going on. There is a plot, too, but the almost non-stop combat is more prominent. The series jumps into the middle of the action before launching into an extended flashback exploring the characters' histories. The relationship between Yusuke and Kikuri does develop rather quickly, but there's destiny and reincarnation involved so there is an excuse for the hasty progression. I actually really enjoyed Blood Sucker, so I'll be tracking down the rest of the volumes that made it into English before Tokyopop's demise.
Devil by Torajiro Kishi. In addition to Kishi, Madhouse Studios was involved in Devil, a full color Western-style comic created exclusively for Dark Horse. (Depending on how you want to define the term, Devil may or may not be considered manga.) Written as a four-issue mini-series, Devil is not particularly long. It's a quick, vaguely entertaining read and the art style Kishi uses fits nicely. Set in a near future where the human race is succumbing to a virus that causes vampirism, the story follows two cops who serve on a special unit that deals with those who have been infected. The ending seems to imply that the government may have somehow been involved in the creation of the disease, but Devil isn't long enough to explore this, so it feels like a halfhearted addition to the plot.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Volumes 13-16 by Hirohiko Araki. I can't help it, I love this series. It's stylish. It's weird. It has great characters. And it's a lot of fun. I'm sad that this is the only arc licensed in English, because I want to read more. Jotaro and the others have finally made it to Dio's mansion in Cairo. Not much has been seen of Dio up until now, but he is one scary dude. Extremely powerful, and a vampire to boot, he has very few weaknesses. The showdown between Jotaro and Dio is fantastic--one of the greatest fight scenes that I've had the pleasure of reading recently. I like that the battles in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure aren't just about brute strength; outwitting and outmaneuvering opponents is important, too.
Pathos, Volumes 1-2 by Mika Sadahiro. Not surprisingly, two vampires taking charge of raising a human child to adulthood is not a good idea. The relationships that develop between the characters are intense and twisted. Dark passion and jealousy consume them. Pathos isn't creepy because vampires are involved; it's disturbing because the characters' relationships are so unhealthy and warped. Technically Pathos is boys' love, but it's not at all romantic. Desire, lust, and attraction all play an important role the series, but love, despite what the characters might claim, is not to be found. Although provocative, the more intimate scenes in Pathos aren't nearly as explicit as those in Sadahiro's other series. Unfortunately, Pathos is plagued by plot inconsistencies.
Until the Full Moon, Volumes 1-2 by Sanami Matoh. Originally published by Broccoli Books, Until the Full Moon's license was rescued by Kodansha Comics and published with additional material. It's a quirky, fairly episodic series about David, a vampire, and his cousin Marlo, a half-vampire/half-werewolf who, instead of transforming into a wolf under the full moon, changes from a man into a woman. Their parents, who may actually be the most delightfully absurd characters in the series, decide that they should be married to each other. Until the Full Moon is a short, amusing series, and I did enjoy it's silliness, but it's nothing spectacular. I haven't decided yet if I'll be following up with the sequel, @Full Moon.
Vampire Hunter D, Volumes 2-5 by by Saiko Takaki. I still haven't read any of the novels in Hideyuki Kikuchi's series Vampire Hunter D, but I have been following the manga adaptation to some extent. So far, each volume of the manga adapts one of volume of the original series. Other than that, I can't say how the two series compare. For the most part, the different volumes stand alone. Except for a few minor reference to previous volumes, the eponymous D is really the only thing that ties them all together. I quite like D. He's a dark, handsome (well, beautiful may be the more accurate term), brooding anti-hero. I also like how the series blends all sorts of elements and genres together--Western, science fiction, horror, fantasy, and more.