Playing catch-up doesn’t just mean reading manga, it also means writing reviews of titles I’ve read, but hadn’t got around to reviewing. So here are a couple of Seven Seas Entertainment titles that I’d read a while ago, but needed some time to figure out what I wanted to say.

Amnesia Labyrinth Volume 2

Story by Nagaru Tanigawa; Art by Natsumi Kohane ♦ Seven Seas Entertainment ♦ Older Teen ♦ Mystery ♦ $10.99
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Picking up where volume 1 left off, Souji sees his “twin brother”, who seemingly escapes and poses as Souji at school. He violently kisses Yukako and then ignores her. A girl who Yukako interviewed about the murders is found dead as well, but her access to Souji is blocked by Saki. The volume ends with a flashback to the Kushiki family in the Heien era.

All the potential I saw in the first volume was run out on a rail in this second volume. I have never been hit so hard by such an obvious plot device as I was in this volume. The identity of Souji’s “brother” is so obvious, it’s almost painful, especially when half a chapter is devoted to literary analysis of the condition. Of course, by making it so obvious the reader is probably meant to doubt it, which makes me think that’s exactly what it is. A lot of things go on in this volume, but few of it makes sense. The volume reads like a disconnected dream, much like Souji seems to be experiencing as he drifts in and out of consciousness. The idea of life being real or just a dream is revisited, but after the events in this volume, it’s not as interesting. And the flashback comes out of nowhere, and seems to be going in the same direction. Tanigawa does try to keep a connected narrative going, but it just doesn’t work.

I wanted to give this series a chance. There are so few mystery manga. But with so many unlikable characters, continued incest for no discernible reason, and a plot that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, I just can’t.

Dracula Everlasting Volume 1

Story by Nunzio De Filippis & Christina Weir; Art by Rhea Silvan ♦ Seven Seas Entertainment ♦ Teen ♦ Supernatural ♦ $10.99
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Seemingly normal Nick Harker has just had one surprise after another. First both his parents die in a car accident, and then he learns he has inherited the vast Harker fortune from England. Part of that fortune  is the spirit of Dracula, that once unleashed possess’ Nick and slowly tries to take him over.

I didn’t know what I expected from this title, so I don’t know if I got what I wanted. The premise sounded interesting. Dracula comes back and possess’ the body of one of his greatest enemies. It starts out with a lot of action, and then turns into a high school teen story, as the story follows Nick Harker and his attempt to get back to a normal life after the sudden loss of his parents and the inheritance. I actually liked this part a lot. Nick is the quiet, soft-spoken type, in a rather cute fashion. I also liked Jillian, the daughter of Nick’s family lawyer. She’s very no-nonsense and down-to-earth.

But then, the whole Dracula thing kicks in. I was okay with it at the beginning, with Nick having the black outs, and seeing Dracula in the mirror. I liked that he was more powerful at night and that his take-over was a gradual process. What I didn’t like was the introduction of the Renfield characters. They were too “Munsters” for me, with all of the brothers being freakish and ugly, and only the one good-looking brother determined to prove himself worthy of the Renfield name. I really didn’t like Nick after he started hanging out with Mason, but I suppose that was the point. But I think they did too good of a job, because, by the time I got to the end of volume 1, I really wasn’t interested in reading the next one. It really felt like Nick was ruined. I guess what I really wanted was more internal struggle between Dracula and Nick, instead of Nick joining the dark side with Mason.

I will give this series a chance with the next volume. Things can still be turned around, and given the clues and revelation about Jillian, it probably will. The real question will be, will it be enough? I hope so. I really want to see more of Nick, and his trying to balance teen trouble with dealing with Dracula could be interesting; if that’s the way the series will go.

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