Tag Archives: vampires

Dracula Everlasting Volume 2: Manga Movable Feast

Nicholas Harker discovered he is heir to the legacy of an ancestor he never knew he had: Dracula. Under his progenitor’s evil influence, Nicholas has begun, with a vast fortune at his disposal, to rebuild Castle Dracula in the outskirts of Boston, leaving behind a wake of corpses. While the love of Jill Hawthorne seems to be the only thing that weakens Dracula’s hold over Nicholas, Mason Renfield realizes he must remove her from the picture, in order to usher in the full reemergence of his dark lord. But Jill’s new friend, the fiery wiccan Cate, has plans of her own—to destroy Nicholas and avenge her mother’s death.

Story by Nunzio De Filippis & Christina Weir; Art by Rhea Silvan
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Supernatural
Price: $10.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

After reading volume 1 of Dracula Everlasting, I had some doubts about the series. I was under the impression that Nick was to be the protagonist, but this volume proves that isn’t the case. Cate and to some extent Jill are the ones to really move the story. While I do like good, strong female characters, as Cate and Jill are portrayed, I imagined a different story in my head. It’s not that this story is bad. It’s just not what I expected.

Cate, who was introduced half way through volume one, takes the initiative in this volume. She does the research and the footwork to put together an arsenal of holy water, silver bullets and stakes to use against Dracula. She also finds the Van Helsing who will be needed to defeat the vampire. It shouldn’t be too much of a surprise who is it. Sadly she discovers this too late for Detective McAllister, who was her initial candidate. His spirit is still around, whether because of magic or his unsolved murder is unknown, but I do hope he comes in handy later. It’s too bad he’s gone. He and Cate make a cute couple.

The one person who isn’t much help is Jill. She knows something is up with Nick, but doesn’t do anything about it. She lets him kiss her, and then lets him push her away. Nick is stupid to use Jill as he does with just getting a touch from her and then bailing, but Jill should have been more assertive with him. He’s obviously easily dominated. When Cate mentions her mother was killed by Dracula/Nick, Jill asks which victim she was without batting an eye. I’m glad Cate calls her on it, but she doesn’t have a good response. I thought she was smart, but she falls too easily for Mason’s advances. Again, it’s Cate who has to verbally smack her to get her to wake up. I get that she doesn’t believe Cate about her connection to the whole Dracula thing, but I really didn’t like that it took killing her mother for her to finally accept it.

The middle volume in a three-volume series is usually the weakest, as it has to either keep the status quo, or be the dark before the dawn. This volume is the latter, but I enjoyed this one more than the first. Now that I realize that Nick is not the main character, but that the girls Jill and Cate are, the story makes more sense. It’s nice to have a “Prince in distress” for a change. Though, I think the story I originally thought this would be, the internal struggle between Nick and Dracula, would still be interesting, if Nick had the will power. Another plus was that there were only a few scenes with the Renfields, which also included a possible foreshadowing of some just desserts for Mason.

I did like this second volume of Dracula Everlasting, but Cate was its saving grace. Without her, this would have been very dull with Jill doing nothing and Nick being the Prince of Darkness, asking why it’s so important to dispose of a body, and shaking an old man fist at the cell phone. The lack of vampire action was a little disappointing too. There was only one on-screen kill, and the battle at the end. I’m gonna stick around to see the end of this series. I want to see the girls take out Dracula and find out if they can save the (cute) boy.

Digital review copy provided by publisher.

Blood Alone Volumes 1-3: Manga Movable Feast

For recently turned vampire Minato Misaki, vampirism and the beastly powers that come with it are something that she wouldn’t wish upon her worst enemy, let alone her beloved Kuroe. But Kuroe’s supernatural investigations make him a regular target of not only vampires but of all sorts of undead creatures of the night. The only way to save him from these deadly threats may be to do the one thing that Misaki fears the most: to turn Kuroe into a vampire for his own protection.

By Masayuki Takano
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Supernatural/Vampires/Horror
Price: $15.99
Rating: ★★★★★

I’ve had this volume in my review pile for a while, and kept meaning to read it. I’d heard a lot of good things about it, and after reading a review of it for the Manga Movable Feast I hosted last year, I was really interested, but I am easily distracted, and it was soon buried by the growing review pile. With this month’s MMF being about vampires, it seemed the perfect time to dig it out. And I’m really glad I did. Blood Alone isn’t the typical vampire series with a lot of angst and melodrama. Instead, it is populated with rich, interesting characters and a story that is a mix of slice of life and murder mystery with a sprinkling of vampires.

Blood Alone revolves around Kuroe, a former Vampire Hunter and Misaki, a young vampire girl. It might seem like an odd pairing, until you get to know them. As the story begins, we don’t know how long they’ve been together, but it’s obviously been a while, as they are comfortable with each other and have a set routine. Masaki isn’t a vampire who just looks like a 10 to 12-year-old girl, she actually is still a tween. She doesn’t like to sleep alone, is afraid of thunder, and can be melodramatic. She has a big time crush on Kuroe, and is quick to get jealous when any other women speak to him. She is sweet and innocent in a charming kind of way. She doesn’t like being a vampire and hates having to drink blood. She doesn’t know much about her new abilities, so it’s cute when she tries them on Kuroe for the first time.

Kuroe appears rather laid back. He is a writer, but to cover bills between books he also works as a private investigator, taking jobs as varied as finding a lost cat to being a bodyguard. He appears unassuming, but he’s actually a well-trained fighter and seems to have quite a reputation in the vampire community. He is absolutely devoted to Masaki, often worrying about her when she goes off on her own, and trying to give her time alone with him. His feeling for her however are much more of a brotherly kind. Kuroe doesn’t appear to have an interest in anyone romantically. He was infatuated with his older sister, who was taken by a vampire several years earlier, and is probably the reason he became a Vampire Hunter. He does have a special ability that he earned while trying to save his sister. His eyes were wounded by the vampire, and now he can see when something is trying to be something it isn’t. And he’s immune to vampire tricks. A rather useful trait for a vampire hunter.

Assisting Kuroe and Masaki is an interesting supporting cast. Sayaka Sainome is a long time friend of Kuroe’s who is the head of a police forensics department. She often asks Kuroe for help in cases where the supernatural might be involved. She is also Masaki’s potentially biggest rival for Kuroe’s attention. Higure is an elder vampire who looks like a boy, but is really very old. He controls the vampire territory where Kuroe and Misaki live, helping Misaki learn about her vampiric powers and tolerating Kuroe. Sly is an underworld figure who is a friend of both Kuroe and Misaki who also happens to be a vampire. He helps them out with information. His partner is a cat named Larry. While it doesn’t seem right to call any cat “owned” by a human, it seems especially inappropriate for Larry.

The stories range from slice of life stories, such as Misaki’s humming inspiring a down and out musician to write again, to murder mysteries, with Sayaka and Kuroe hunting down a serial killer’s soul, to action with Kuroe fighting a vampire guild of assassins. The mix of stories keeps the series from getting boring or bogged down, as it never spends too much time on any vampire angst. The side characters get some attention too. Sayaka gets a story to work out issues she had with her deceased father. What I really enjoyed about this omnibus, was how easy it was to get lost in volume. At three volumes it was the perfect length, and the kinds of stories covered made for a perfect introduction to the characters and the world. The art is beautifully rendered as well. The characters never get too silly looking. All of their emotions are handled realistically, without being too realistic.

Blood Alone is exactly the kind of vampire title I’ve been looking for. It has a strong and varied range of characters and stories to suit. It has its own vampire mythos that doesn’t stray far from established canon, and doesn’t dwell on the angst of being a vampire. It acknowledges it without letting it overwhelm the story. This is a great title for readers who want more from their vampires than just killing things or moping. I highly recommend it.

Digital review copy provided by publisher.

Lunar Legend Tsukihime Volume 1-5

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+
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Price: $9.95
Rating: ★★★☆☆

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.