Red Angel is a masterfully drawn manga with an awesome color cover that gives just a hint at the gothic art inside. Author and manga artist, Makoto Tateno, brings to life the story of Mika & Eru who are brother and sister vampires.
For those of you who might have read her other works Happy Boys or Yellow and didn't like them, I believe that Red Angel deserves a chance. You see, Mika & Eru are not like other vampire brothers and sisters. They have one unique quality that sets them away from the bunch. They just happen to reside in the same body.
Reminiscent of the novel, The Need by Andrew Neiderman, the brother and sister pair have a problem... whatever one of them does, the other has to live with. In Red Angel, this has to do with them moving constantly to keep their secret. Their crimson wings often leave mortals in a state of awe. Whether they feed or not, they usually cause death somehow and flee the scene.
Artwork in this book is beautiful with a nice dark feel throughout and gothic vignettes portraying a couple enjoying a kiss as massive wings shelter them or a flight of crows bordered by intricate crosses and lace. Tateno has a way of portraying action in the still shot so convincingly that the reader can almost feel the wind whip around them as wings flap, causing feathers to float by.
Each chapter is a different town and the vampire pair is not always the focus. We get to meet a couple of "bat men" who turn into bats but are not vampires, and Anney, who is holy and able to suck energy from vamps. Mika meets another vampire and finds out the hidden truth behind who she is and where she fits into creation.
There is a four-page extra in the back by the author, explaining the characters, ideas, and how the book was first published. Categorized as a Yaoi, I disagree. Perhaps it is just stuck into that category because of the woman and man in the same body. I find that the story is very unlike many Yaoi and the difference between the brother and sister is so definite, the reader really believes they are two different people simply sharing the same mortal-like shell.
You can find out more about Red Angel at Amazon.com.
Manga Review: Black Butler by Yana Toboso
I am so stoked to be able to bring you this review. I’ve been waiting for Black Butler to be translated into English for over a year.
A short distance from London, just beyond the fog-cloaked forest, there stands a well-kept manor house.
Kuroshitsuji, or Black Butler, is an awesome gothic tale about a butler who can do absolutely anything. The art in the manga is the best gothic craftsmanship I have ever seen. In fact, before the English translation came out, I had to talk myself out of buying the Japanese version several times because I loved the art so much. I just wanted to hold such beauty in my hands and study the details even, if I couldn’t read the darned thing!
I just finished the English translation version and I am not disappointed in the least. The story and characters live up to the awesome artwork. So, what’s it about?
The Black Butler, Sebastian, is the kind of man anyone could use around the house. He can clean, garden, make the most delicious sweets, and even rescue you from kidnappers. Most would say that his type of know-how is impossible in a mortal and they would be right. Sebastian's master Earl Phantomville, a twelve-year-old boy named Ceil who is obsessed with games. Being the head of the family that owns Funtom, Britain’s leading confection and toy making manufacturer, liking games is a must.
The other servants of the house are comical, but useless. After all, who needs maids, gardeners, and man servants when one has Sebastian the greatest butler of all time? These other servants make it difficult for Sebastian to do his job by constantly messing things up, destroying china sets, poisoning the garden, and eating the Earl’s desserts. The Black Butler always saves the day with his quick wit, speedy service, and ultimate all around wonderfulness.
My favorite scene is when Sebastian is riddled with bullets and then stands, his coattails all in tatters and looks at the bullets in his hand. Then he throws all the bullets back at the baddies, effectively sending them to their graves. After the fight, he picks up his master and calmly walks for the room while apologizing that dinner has not been prepared.
As I have said, this artist is awesome. I haven’t been this excited about a manga artist since Kaori Yuki’s Godchild. From ruffled cravats and tailored suits to ornamented chandeliers and elaborate tea servings, every detail is beautiful. Even the chibi portions of this manga are well done.
A fun detail is that each chapter, Sebastian makes a special dessert for Earl Phantomville. The dessert is shown up close with a banner stating things such as:
Today’s Dessert: Apricot and green tea mille-feuille.
This awesome book includes seven pages of author notes with translation notes outlining everything you’d like to know about what is described in the book, including what mille-feuille is.
The author is definitely into portraying authentic Victorian England settings and clothing, but I’ve never seen a manga artist pay this much attention to customs, history of the time, and even what people might have been talking about during dinner.
I’ll leave you with a quote from the author:
I like black… …It’s a color that can’t be violated by any other colors. It’s a color that simply keeps being itself. A color that sinks more somberly than any other... …It’s a passionate, gallant color. Anything is wonderful if it transcends things, rather than being halfway.
If you haven’t bought a manga yet, this is the one to start with. Few others are in it’s league. You can find out more about Black Butler at Amazon.com.
Manga Review: Vampire Doll by Erika Kari
You gotta love the storyline for Vampire Doll. A powerful vampire prince, Guilt-na-Zan, was sealed into a cross necklace by an exorcist. Years later, the exorcist’s descendant, Kyoji, releases him but there’s a catch. You see, instead of letting the vampire free to hunt, feed, and generally be his good old evil self, he awoke in the body of a wax doll. Not only has the exorcist handicapped Guilt-na-Zan by placing him in a cute blonde-haired girl with ruffles, he also expects him to be his maid. Such a concept probably has you wondering if it’s a horrible joke. Nothing like this could ever be good, right? Wrong. Though I was skeptical at first, I found Vampire Doll funny and entertaining. Example? There are many.
First, when Guilt-na-Zan first awoke, he tries to summon tempest and beasts, but with his new found doll body, all that comes is flowers and teddy bears.
Next, when he is given an apron by Kyoji, he asks what it is. Kyoji says,
“A special battle apron. Now your maid skills are at level two and your cuteness level is at five!”
Something about a powerful vampire prince being treated like a dress up doll is just too funny for words.
Other characters include Guilt-na-Zan's faithful bat servant, Vince, who is now in a man’s body. Although he has his own room with a bed, he insists on sleeping hanging from his feet in the closet. He is cute, but very dumb.
Kyoichi is Kyoji’s brother and they have a bitter rivalry in which they try to kill each other regularly. Kyoji’s sister Tonae seems to be the only sane one. She adores Guilt-na-Zan’s doll form and every time she lets him drink a drop of her blood, he is able to transform into his male vampire form. These rare occurrences conveniently coincide with an event where they need his vampire skills to survive. Though Guilt-na-Zan's male form is like a 1980's hair band reject, he's still rather intimidating as the vampire prince.
- Glossy color pictures of the characters
- Bonus comic strips which put the characters into silly positions or to tell jokes.
- Author notes.
- Trivia and Japanese word/concept definitions.
- A funny manga about how the book is made.
- A one page manga called “Sweets and Me” where the author explores why strawberries on cakes look so arrogant. “Nothing is done to them. They are naturally born with that shape. Yet, they have the attitude of a main ingredient!”
- Cross over comics with the characters of Strange Plus.
Entertainment for hours awaits you in the pages of Vampire Doll. If you’d like to purchase them, they are available at Amazon.com.
Manga Review: Rozen Maiden by Peach-Pit
Calling all goth-loli girls and Alice enthusiasts! Rozen Maiden is going to make you want to buy every single one of these volumes.
A boy named Jun, who has decided to no longer attend school, becomes addicted to mail ordering. He accidentally orders a doll who takes over his life. The doll then involves him in a game with her other doll sisters where the playfulness can lead to injury, missed bedtimes, and death.
In the first volume, the package arrives and the doll, Shinku, awakes. She starts ordering Jun around and commands that he swear to protect her. When he refuses, Shinku sends a butcher knife wielding, foaming-at-the-mouth teddy bear after him. Jun reluctantly agrees to her demands and she brings all of his action figures to life to kill the teddy bear. This opening scene tells you, you aren't reading any old manga... this one is going to be good!
Just when Jun gets used to having the irritating doll around, others start showing up. Jun’s sister, Nori, is no help as she adores the dolls and makes them all the little sweets and tea they want.
Even though they do tackle deeper issues such as depression and human frailty, there remains an element of little girl silliness to the story line. In volume three, a standoff ensues between the youngest doll and the other dolls. Their threat is cutting her off from the sweets!
“Listen up. We’ve secured the kitchen and fridge. If you ever want sweets again, you will give yourself up!”
This manga is more than a chaotic romp in a doll’s fantasy “Alice” game. It is a comment on teens who sequester themselves away from others in hopes to hide from ridicule from mean classmates. The message in these volumes is that if you go too far, your spirit and all your talents that make you special will be lost. While the authors seem to agree that there are some social situations that make us all want to cower in the attic, they also show us that we can’t let those haters keep our creative spirit down.
For you horror lolita’s, there are several freaky aspects I think you’ll enjoy. The first being Suihuintoh, the spooky doll sister who has black wings and tries to destroy the other dolls by terrorizing them in a mirror world called LaPlace. In LaPlace resides a freaky rabbit in a tux and top hat. He is what they call the Demon of LaPlace and seems to be there more to confuse them than attack them.
Although Jun thinks the dolls have ruined his life, they really save it by making him face his fears and come out of hibernation. By the end of volume three, the story has changed to a serious nature when Suihuintoh kills one doll and takes a part of Shinku. Jun risks his life to retrieve the part of Shinku and in the process learns more about his depression.
By the end of volume four, the creator has added another doll for comic relief. She speaks to a kitty cat about how she is going to infiltrate the house and begin killing dolls. It’s a throw back for me to those comics of Snoopy when he pretended to be in combat and snuck through the bushes to the enemy camp. I think perhaps she was brought in for volume five in which Jun goes into a massive depression and the book is rather dismal if you don’t count the breaks they take to bring in the silly doll on a quest.
Spookiness (and Jun) return in volume six when an new doll is discovered. She has to be the scariest doll yet, wearing all white with a rose and thorny vines growing out of her right eye.
Over all this manga is very entertaining, but perhaps has a more dismal storyline than others I’ve read. The ups and downs in this plot might make you more emotional that you would think. The art is detailed and beautiful. As for extras, there aren't many. Volume three has a few interesting collaboration comics with the mangas Zombie Loan and DearS. Volume four contains a cute comic on how the manga is made.
If you'd like to check these manga's out, they are available at: Amazon.com
Manga Gift Ideas For The Whole Family!
Why can’t Grandpa or Aunt Suzi enjoy manga? Well, because you haven’t found the right thing for them to read yet. Now manga can be for the whole family. Check out these titles for manga holiday gift ideas. Not only will it open up the old geezers to a fun new way to enjoy stories, but it will bridge the generational gaps and give you something to talk about at those long family gatherings coming up.
EMMA tells the story of a young Victorian maid and her forbidden love. If grandma likes Austen, Eliot, or Dickens, she’ll love this.
THE MANGA BIBLE is an adaptation of the Christian holy book. If grandpa says he never reads anything but the bible, this is the perfect gift!
THE MANGA COOKBOOK Filled with all those cute little meals you see in your mangas. Even if mom doesn’t read your books, maybe she can take pride in making fun foods and learning about Japanese culture.
Try one of the WOLVERINE mangas. These have been getting mixed reviews. Not all comic lovers can switch over, but what a better time to broaden dad’s horizons than the Holidays?
For older brother:
50 MANGA BABES TO DRAW AND PAINT Whether he is an artist or just likes to sit in his room a lot playing his X-box, this book has what most teen boys like. Mix up comics, computer games, and beautiful bodies, you’ll be his best friend at least through the holiday feast.
For vampire-loving sister:
VAMPIRE KNIGHT This tale explores what would happen if vampires and mortals had to attend the same school. Though the vampires go at night and the mortals at day, what is unknown and mysterious draws the students together.
For your Yaoi fans:
ANIMA is the best Yaoi I’ve read to date (review coming soon). Take a male to male love story, sprinkle in some Steampunk and a bit of robotics? This Yaoi is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Warning: This book does have explicit adult content, please don’t buy it for granny.
For your bratty pre-teen nephew:
BSI: Muhyo & Roji's Bureau of Supernatural Investigation- This is a great starter for any pre-teen who likes ghosts, but the bratty little investigator in this book will especially appeal to your irritating, know-it-all nephew! Not that any of us know anyone like that.
For your cool college-age sister who’s kind of a hippie:
ROZEN MAIDEN A guy orders a doll online and she comes to life. The doll then involves him in a game with her other doll sisters where the playfulness can lead to injury, missing bedtimes, and death.
For that co-worker who loves Jane Austen men:
GODCHILD An English gentleman, heir to the Hargraves fortune, is the most eligible bachelor in town. What the public does not see is that solves murders and is a poison specialist. Many volumes to this and the best part is if they get hooked, you have another series THE CAIN SAGA to buy next year! Emerian's Godchild review.
For your friend who’s still a rocker at heart:
For anyone that likes smart writing:
DEATH NOTE A magical notebook will cause the death of anyone who is written in it. Light, a student aggravated with the justice system, uses the notebook to attempt to bring criminal activity to an end. The storyline in this manga is the best thought-out, most intricate plot you will read in manga format. Emerian’s Death Note Review.
Perhaps you are looking for a gift your horror manga-lover hasn’t seen yet? Try:
If your manga-lover is past the lover stage and into the… “Hey, I think I could make my own manga!” stage, check out these new manga-drawing instruction books: Drawing Manga Animals, Chibis, and Other Adorable Creatures (Nov. 2009) Shojo Fashion Manga Art School: How to Draw Cool Looks and Characters (Nov. 2009)
Manga Review: Vampire Game by Judal
Vampire Game didn’t irritate me enough to give it a bad review, but it didn’t wow me either. Although I didn’t enjoy it, my best friend loves it. Maybe I should put it this way... If you enjoy talking cats, silly jokes, and a princess preoccupied with getting into trouble, you’ll like Vampire Game.
You might ask yourself, "If Emz didn’t like it, why did she read beyond volume one?" Well, it was a discount buyers mistake all the way. One day while shopping, I expected to pass by the little manga kiosk with nothing but a groan because I had spent my book money on skeleton leg warmers. To my surprise, they were having a manga sale. So, if you think about it, Vampire Game is a manga worth a buck a volume and if you run into a manga sale like that, grab it up! For the rest of you, read this little review before you spend your hard-earned cash.
The story: A once great vampire king named Duzell led a war against humans. The king of the humans used a spell to defeat Duzell. One hundred years later, Duzell has been reborn as a wildcat who falls into the hands of a princess named Ishtar who likes to get in trouble. A cute bodyguard named Darres is charged with making sure she doesn't get into trouble and boy does he earn his keep! Though she is being courted by the most eligible princes in the land, you get the feeling Darres is her romantic prospect.
Here are some highlights from the series:
- Volume one: This was the beginning of the end for me. The cat is irritating and talks. The art reminded me of bible story cartoons from when I was a child.
- Volume two: The tale starts to get a tad interesting as we learn that Duzell the cat, can turn into a human if they drink that human’s blood. Since Dunzell drank from Ishtar, he becomes a clone of her. There is a great sword competition where he is able to fight.
- Volume three: The sword competition continues. We finally see this tale’s version of vampires which look like Hellraiser characters with no skin.
- Volume four: We get to see some ghouly demons. My favorite quote from the whole series is in this volume, said by the princess of a neighboring kingdom. “Dad! There’s this really hot naked weirdo in the stable and he was fooling around with your horse.”
- Volume five: Scary mermaids show up who have wings and sharp teeth.
- Volume six: The story for me finally gets good. The whole castle is in chaos as the monsters are allowed to come on grounds and to flood out of the dungeon. Another good quote, this time from a warrior. “For the record I am not cleaning this mess up. These guys smell bad enough now, I don’t want to think about when they start to stiffen!”
I am not a fan of this sort of art and since it started in 1996, it is in the older style. I wouldn’t suggest buying this manga unless you want to spend hours reading many pages to get to that one funny joke or cool monster sequence.
Get your copy here from Amazon
To learn more about Vampire Game, by someone who likes this series, visit http://www.princessishtar.com/