Everyone loves a good scare. Whether it’s from the unknown darkness or from the known serial killer that stalks the night, everyone has something that scares them. Through books and movies, we can enjoy those scares from the safety of our homes. This month’s Manga Movable Feast features not a single title, but the whole genre of Horror. So any title that makes your hair stand on end, makes you want to keep the light on after reading before bed, or hide behind the sofa while watching is fair game!
When one thinks of the holiday season, it tends to be of being merry, giving gifts, and celebrating the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. But the holiday season also has a history of ghostly stories and ghoulish things. So in that spirit, here are two titles to make you clutch your blanket closer on these cold, dark winter nights.
Hellsing, a secret organization also known as the Royal Order of Protestant Knights, has protected the United Kingdom and the English crown since ancient days from supernatural threats. Whether it is vampires or the mindless ghouls they create, the Hellsing Agency is ready to take on the fight local police are unable to handle.
It’s been a while since I updated my post on manga for Halloween. The titles I choose to put on this list don’t just have death, vampires, horror, or supernatural elements. I try to choose titles that have a creepy atmosphere to them as well. Something that can send a chill up your spine, and not just gross you out.
Going in order of publishers again, let’s start with Dark Horse, who still has the most titles to fit this genre.
School Zone – This is a 3 volume series that tell stories of ordinary kids who encounter the strange and terrifying in their school. Ghosts, urban legends and superstitions turn out to be horribly real. This series is by Kanako Inuki, who is known as the Queen of Manga Horror. She also created CMX’s Presents. You can read a review of volume 1 here, and all three volumes here.
Viz Media has a couple of new titles and both of them come out this month!
Grand Guignol Orchestra – This is a new 5 volume series by Kaori Yuki, creator of The Cain Saga, Godchild and Fairy Cube. Lucille is the head of the travelling Grand Orchesta. For a price he and the orchestra will go to a town and rid them of the Guiynol infected people called puppets who threaten the town. This is done by Kaori Yuki, so you know it’s going to be good. Read reviews of this new series here and here.
March Story – This title was just announced at Anime Expo this year, and it’s scheduled to come out in the next week or two. It created by Korean artists, but the story is published by Shogakukan’s Sunday Gene-X (thanks @toukochan!). Set in 18th Century Europe, demons know as the Ill hide in works of art, waiting to attract unsuspecting humans and possess them. Only hunters of the Ciste Vihal can dispel them, and March is one such hunter, tracking down Ills and stopping them before they can possess anyone. This sounds like a really cool series and I can’t wait for it to come out. There have been only 2 volumes released so far in Japan, so expect this one to be on a long release schedule.
Tokyopop added one title that I really enjoyed.
Hanako and the Terror of Allegory – What if urban legends were true? The killer under the bed, the slit-mouthed woman, human-faced fish are all well known urban legends, and they can possess you, making you believe they are real. And if they are real, they can kill you. This title is about Daisuke Asou, who is known as an Allegory Detective. He’s the person you to if you are possessed by one of these legends or allegories. The stories are well done, and the urban legends are very creepy. It was a lot of fun to read, but then, I love urban legends. Read other reviews here and here.
Yen Press added a title that has some stories to send chills up your spine.
Time and Again – Serialized in Yen Plus, this manhwa follows exorcist Baek-On and his bodyguard Ho-Yeon as they travel the country in search of grudges and ghosts. A lot of the stories deal with karma and re-incarnation, and have very tragic tales behind the hauntings. The art is very well done, and some scenes will make you have second thoughts about reading at night. I’ve really enjoyed this series so far. There are three volumes out so far, and here are reviews of each. It can also be read online through Yen Plus magazine.
DMP seems to have embraced the horror genre with two titles new this year.
Taimashin: The Read Spider Exorcist – This title is from the creator of Vampire Hunter D, Hideyuki Kikuchi. Akamushi Fujiwara travels between the world of the living and the dead, using his shamanistic spider powers to combat demons from the underworld. As mysterious as he is handsome, if you need Akamushi’s help, you are in dire straits indeed. There are two volumes out so far with all of Kikuchi’s great action and horror, as well as some sexual innuendo. I’ve reviewed both volumes here.
Tale of a White Night – This is a one-shot collection of short stories of supernatural and suspense. The tales are more in the vein to make you cautious and constantly looking over your shoulder than outright scare you. It’s a good light horror for those that like the more psychological scare than physical gore. Reviews can be found here and here.
Udon has dabbled in manhwa and licensed one Korean horror title.
Reading Club – This title is about a girl, Eun-Sae, who agrees to help clean the student-run school library with her crush Kyung-Do. While cleaning they discovers a book with an evil aura, that may be responsible for the death of not just the library’s previous advisor, but also another student and Kyung-Do’s own father years before. This is a strongly plot driven story with supernatural and horror elements. Sadly though, only one volume has come out so far. You can read reviews of this title here, and here.
Seven Seas Entertainment has really made a name with OEL manga, and with all their different genres has one title that takes on the Cthulu mythos.
Arkham Woods – You can’t say horror and not think of H.P. Lovecraft and Cthulu. This one volume title takes you into Lovecraft’s world with Kirsti Rivers, an LA girl transplanted to the sleepy New England town of Arkham Woods. While cleaning out the old house her mother’s uncle left to them, Kirsti and her friends uwittingly unleash an ancient horror that could destroy the world, if they don’t stop it first. You can read this title online as well as in print, and check this review to see how it stands up to a Lovecraft fan.
Did I miss any titles that should be added to these lists? Leave a comment and let me know so I can start to work for next year!
Though I was slow to get on the Kaori Yuki bandwagon back when Angel Sanctuary came out, her titles such as The Cain Saga and Godchild have since convinced me how great her work is. So hearing that another one of her titles had been licensed thrilled me. That it features musician thrilled me even more. Find out more after the break.
Lunar Legend Tsukihime is about Shiki Tohno. Eight years ago, he was in an accident that left him weakened, and with a mysterious power. He can see the hidden lines, or death lines, in all things, organic or inanimate. By cutting along these lines, he can destroy or kill anything, or anyone. While in the hospital he meets a woman who claims she is a magician, and gives him some special glasses that make it so he can’t see the lines as long as he wears them. After recovering, Shiki was sent away from the main Tohno family home to live with relatives. Now, after the death of his father, his younger sister Akiha has asked him to live in the big house again with her. Shiki accepts, but on his way home from school the same day he is to move in, he sees a woman in the park. Something seems to take over him, and he cuts the woman into several pieces. Then he faints. He awakens the next day, in his new home. Believing the events from the day before a dream, he goes to school, and meets the woman again, who then berates him for killing her. She is Arcueid Brunestud, a true ancestor vampire. And thanks to Shiki’s attack, she is weakened and needs help with her job to stop other vampires that have been killing people in the city. To make up for his attacking her, Shiki agrees to help her.
Lunar Legend Tsukihime Volume 1-5
Illustrator: Sasakishonen/Creators: Type Moon/Tsukihime Project
Publisher: DrMaster Publications
Age Rating: 15+
Lunar Legend Tsukihime is an intriguing horror/thriller story. At first it seems like a typical vampire horror story, with lots of people being torn apart and blood splattered everywhere. But the further you get into the story, the more about Shiki’s mysterious past starts to come out. It’s this part of the story that’s really intriguing. The only problem is, it takes a while to get there.
The first two volumes work as an introduction. We meet all the main characters and learn about Shiki’s special power. It’s a slow build up, and you’re not quite sure what you’re in for until Shiki and Arcueid meet in an alley and are attacked by Nero Chaos, an assassin sent to kill Arcueid. By the end of the second volume, Nero is dead, killed only with the help of Shiki’s power. The third volume is a sort of breather, that gives a lot of exposition and introduces the real story; the hunt for the vampire, Roa. He is a former human who was turned into a vampire, and tried to gain immortality. Instead, he gained the power of reincarnation. It is Arcueid’s mission to find and kill Roa whenever he appears. At the same time, Shiki, who lost his memories of his life before the accident, are starting to come back. He starts to realize that something horrible happened eight years ago, and he may have been responsible for it. He also starts to wonder if he has some connection to Roa, or worse, be Roa.
This series starts out seeming like a typical blood and gore horror series, but the slowly built mystery around Shiki gives it some depth. There isn’t much time given to Shiki’s life in the first two volumes as he and Arcueid essentially fight for their lives against Nero. But, there are clues about his mysterious past that are dropped almost from page one. You don’t realize it though, until you get further into the story. In volume 1, Ahika looks at a picture of her and Shiki when they were children, but the pictures been cut and pieced back together. By the time you get to volume 5, what’s missing from the picture becomes obvious. It’s little things like this that slowly add up that make the story interesting. It was obviously well plotted out, and for all the gore, is well executed. But if you don’t know this, the pacing will seem really off. The story has a lot of talking going on, which can seem to drag the story down. But it’s necessary to keep the mystery moving forward.
The characters are surprisingly well-developed for a vampire story. There aren’t any of the typical manga stereotypes. The main characters, Shiki and Arcueid are the most developed with many of the others falling to the wayside. Shiki is a typical high school student with normal friends, who is thrust into a strange world that he has difficult dealing with, but because of his power doesn’t really deny. Arcueid is rather interesting. She is a vampire that doesn’t drink human blood, so she doesn’t have her fangs in someone’s neck constantly. She hasn’t lived around humans for centuries, so she doesn’t really understand them very well. She is technically knowledgeable about the human world, but sometimes seems more like a child when actually encountering things, or deal with people. We meet his friends at school, but that’s the only place we see them. Ciel, who starts out as one of Shiki’s school mates, turns out to have some secrets as well as Akiha. They both seem to know more about Shiki than he does, and not very willing to tell him anything, making them suspicious to Shiki and the reader.
There is a relationship growing between Shiki and Arcueid, as would be expected of the protagonists of a vampire story, but it isn’t straightforward. It’s more of an attraction based not so much on looks. But Shiki can’t keep away from Arcueid. He keeps telling himself he’s seeing her because she needs his help. But a dream from the third volume shows he would like to be more than just friends with her. Arcueid, despite trying to get rid of Shiki after the defeat of Nero, finds she wants to be with him too. When he is late coming to their meeting place one night, she’s angry. But it seems she’s more hurt than upset, and she waits for 5 hours for him. That not something you do with someone who’s “just helping”. The relationship between them seems natural though with all the time they spend together and all they go through. It’s another good element.
Lunar Legend Tsukihime was originally a ero visual novel game. It grew in popularity and got an anime and this manga made from it. But it’s ero roots are still visible. Arcueid and Ciel, are very well endowed. Though, to the manga’s credit, there are no panty shots (despite all the girls wearing skirts or dresses all the time), and next to no nudity in these first five volumes. There is only one implied sex scene that is a dream with very little being shown. Story and character development takes precedent over any possible fetishes or pandering.
Dr Masters printing of this series has been rather inconsistent in quality. The first two volumes have raised lines on the front and/or back covers to simulate the death lines that Shiki sees. It’s a cute gimmick, but is stopped after that. The paper quality has also varied, with volume 1 being a flexible, more newspaper paper, volume 2 is a more white paper that is stiffer, and 3-5 being a compromise between the two. One thing I really dislike about all the volumes is that they are obviously cropped. The books are about an inch shorter than the average manga, and it shows on the covers which always has some part of the character one it cut off.
Something that Dr Masters has no excuse for are the constant typos. In every volume there are typos with words being broken incorrectly in bubbles, or whole bubbles just plain empty! A good editor should be able to catch and correct these before the book goes to be published. Little mistakes like these should not be so prevalent in the professional work.
Overall, Lunar Legend Tsukihime has been an interesting mystery wrapped in vampire horror. If you can get through the slow pacing and gore of the first three volumes and into the heart of story in volume 4, you will be rewarded. Strong characters and a thoughtfully laid out plot make this a thriller to be read.
I don’t get it. Someone really needs to explain this to me. What was so bad about Hell Girl Volume 1 from Del Rey? I just finished reading it, and can’t see any of the problems so many other reviewers seemed to have with it.
I’ve seen the anime this manga is based on, and, on the whole, the first volume follows the first 4-5 episodes in it. There are some minor changes, such as Enma Ai is seen as a student at the schools the girls go to, instead of always waiting in her home with her “Grandmother” for a request to come through the computer. And in the anime, those that ask for Ai’s help get a straw doll with a red string around it’s neck. If they decide to make the contract with Ai, all they have to do is pull the string. Ai also gives those looking to make the contract a taste of what they will be getting after they die and go to hell. Other than those small changes, this volume follows the beginning of the anime fairly faithfully.
First, to get one thing straight. I don’t know what happened, but the age rating on this volume is wrong. It’s marked OT (16+) on the book, but the Del Rey website has it at Teen (13+) . I really hope this was an oversight on Del Rey’s part, and not a concession to any groups that may have been upset with the title or the subject. I will be very disappointed with Del Rey if it was the latter. This is definitely a title for a younger audience than 16.
So, working with the premise that this is actually a Teen rated book, everything else about it would make sense. The art style, with the big eyes fits in with Del Rey’s other Teen titles for girls, Pichi Pichi Pitch: Mermaid Melody and Mamotte! Lollipop. The stories are very shoujo with young girls as the protagonists and lots of drama to drive them to the desperate action of seeking out Hell Girl. But, what really clinched it for me was when I got to the end of the veterinarian story, as he was being tormented before being taken to hell.
About 10 years ago there was a series of horror stories written for teen readers called R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps that were really popular. I’ve come to know these books very well. My oldest daughter was hooked on them for quite a while, and my youngest daughter has been watching the tv specials that were made from the books. And Hell Girl plays just like one of these stories. An innocent kid who gets sucked in by the normal looking person who turns out to be a demon, and has to find a way to defeat it. This is Hell Girl’s formula to a tee, with the only difference that the girls go to an external source to find their answer, and even though they win in the end, they have a consequence to bear for the rest of their life. It’s a Japanese style of horror, but it’s still teen horror. Once that hit me, the book just fell into place.
That said, this is a terrific book for teens that like things on the dark side. Not necessarily goth, but like to be scared every now and then. The stories may seem to be disturbing at times. The veterinarian story is hard for pet lovers to read, but you can’t deny he didn’t deserve it. They can also seem overly dramatic, but that’s just shojo. The teacher that is able to turn not only all of the protagonist’s friends against her, but also her whole family might seem a little unrealistic to grown adults. But to a 12-13 year old girl who thinks her parents are already against her, this might not seem so. The point is, sometimes you have to look at things from their perspective.
The only thing I wish was kept from the anime is the straw doll each requester was given. In the anime, making the choice to make the contract with Ai Enma was emphasized strongly. It was shown to be a big decision, and it almost seemed like Ai wished the people would change their minds, though she would never try to persuade. In the manga, the choice doesn’t seem as important. Ai does ask once more before completing the contract, but it doesn’t get that same emphasis.
Over all, Hell Girl is good horror for teen girls. This is one of those titles where I say ignore the age rating. Del Rey blew it on this one. Hell Girl fits in perfectly with a teen audience, and will appeal to them if they are given the chance to read it. Sometimes, demographics does matter.