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REVIEWS (shorts): Some Halloween Manga Suggestions

Dear Readers,

Here are some suggestions for slightly spooky romantic manga for Halloween.

Vampire KnightVampire Knight by Matsuri Hino: I enjoy this one even though in many ways it’s a very typical shoujo (girls) romance series. The very polished artwork raises it a notch above many series, and there’s something about the main characters’ love triangle that won’t let me stop reading: The pureblood vampire prince manipulating everyone within reach to bring a peace between vampires and humans for the sake of the young woman he loves; the vampire hunter, bitten and in the process of turning into a mad vampire, who can only control it by drinking the blood of his rival or his love; the young girl with the missing past, family killed by one vampire even while she was saved by another, loving both the one who saved her, and the one she has to save. There are many typical things about it, but because of the characters I cannot stop reading it. B, 15+

beyond_my_touchBeyond My Touch by Tomo Maeda: OK, this one isn’t spooky at all, but it’s the sweetest ghost romance between two boys, one who is very cold and the other who is very much in love with him. Unfortunately the one in love dies before being able to get the one thing he wanted in life, a kiss from the other, and he won’t let go of this world until he does. I can’t describe in words how sweet this story is except to say it kept making me go “Awwww.” It is, by the way, a single volume story and the only complete one on this list. B+, 13+

Blood Alone by Masayuki Takano: This is a story about love but not really a romance. Kurou is a writer whose eyes were injured when he attacked the vampire killing his sister, so that now he can see things hidden from humans. Misaki is a girl whose father was killed by that same vampire, and she was turned into a vampire at the same time, though that side of her is mostly dormant for now. Kurou and Misaki now live together, occasionally getting involved in supernatural cases, which gradually reveal that Kurou is more than meets the eye. This is an unusual English language manga for several reasons: The artwork is very subdued but beautiful (a look at the cover shows the lovely style), and appears quite Western with its block panels. Blood_AloneIt is seinen, aimed at young men, yet about love at heart. It has horror episodes, but also “slice of life” chapters, in which the only thing that develops is character. These types of manga are common in Japan, but rarely do we get to see them licensed in the US and translated to English.

Some people will be disturbed by the fact that Misaki is a young teenage girl living with an older unrelated man. She seems to have been a vampire for several years though, and Kurou obviously sees her as a substitute for his sister. Their relationship is not sexual, but Misaki does have a crush on him, and they sleep in the same bed (because she has terrifying nightmares of the vampire that only he can stop). The story is very much about her love for him, and her coming to terms with being a vampire while preserving as much of her humanity as possible through her relationship with him. And it’s a love that is allowing him to regain his humanity as well. It’s a lovely story. Also, this book from Infinity Studios is a quality presentation, and a joy to hold. A, unless the ages would bother you. 15+

Ghost_HuntGhost Hunt by Fuyumi Ono, art by Shiho Inada: This is a strange series that can be surface read for those looking for light to medium scares, or it can be read for what is eventually found to be an intricate plot. Everything that looks like a plot hole or loose thread or gaffe, or even just catches your eye as seeming odd, is later found to be a clue as to what is really happening in this story. The story on the surface is a basic form, a group of ghost hunters with various talents go from case to case solving supernatural problems, some pretty scary, some sad, some silly, and can be read simply for that too if the reader wishes. But it’s fairly average if read that way. Note: This series is not so romantic, though there is an odd sort of romance in it; I’m just not sure if they’re going to handle it the way they did in the novels. I’ve really enjoyed this one though. It’s a personal A, though to be honest most people would find it to be a B/B+ or so (as can be seen on Amazon); it all depends on how you read it, and if you like the puzzle it presents (or are even aware of them… ). 13+

 

And finally, a spooky (OK downright frightening) mangaka (manga creator) to look for if you really want the pants scared off you:

Tomie Uzumaki

Junji Ito: Ito-sensei writes in the tradition of psychological horror masters like Shirley Jackson and HP Lovecraft. His books use the fantastic and terrible to show that the real horror is within mankind. He is responsible for stories like: Tomie (within the Museum of Terror collection), in which a young woman causes every man she encounters to become obsessed with her and dismember her, but because she’s not human she keeps coming back to life; and Uzumaki, in which a town slowly goes mad in the presence of strange spirals which start appearing everywhere. I have to be honest and say I couldn’t finish either of these two because they disturbed me so much, I mean they seriously creeped me out. He’s a master (and these books are not for kids, except maybe teens 16 and up).

There are many other series out there you might enjoy, from the really disturbing Parasyte, to the ultraviolent vampires in Hellsing and Blood+, to the supernatural thriller Death Note, to the Gothic Victorian horror of the Cain Saga/Godchild, to the incredibly eerie yet beautiful Mushishi, to the snarky horror of a pissed off Chinese nature god, Petshop of Horrors, to the downright silly romantic comedy about a guy who’s a werewoman, Full Moon Ni Sasayaite. I could go on about each one of those, but then this would take up the entire page and the Ja(y)nes might throw me down a well, and the next thing you know I’d be crawling out of your televisions, and none of us really wants that especially since I can barely fit my jeans much less a 13 inch screen (and if that double dose of horror doesn’t sound familiar, you may want to try The Ring).

Have a spooky Halloween!

Sincerely,

ジェーン

(Jān)

reads any genre as long as the books aren't depressing. Her preferred reads these days are in manga format and come from all manga genres, but she especially likes romance, doubly so when there are beautiful men involved. With each other. Her favorites among currently-running English-translated manga series include NANA, Ze, Ouran High School Host Club, Junjou Romantica, Blood Alone, Vampire Knight, Skip Beat, Silver Diamond and anything by the holy triumvirate of BL: Ayano Yamane, Kazuma Kodaka and Youka Nitta, including any scribbles they might do on the backs of napkins.

19 Comments

  1. Seressia
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:10:31

    I ahve a few manga titles, but I love anime. Cartoon Network just started showing Deathnote and has been running Blood+ for a few months. I love Blood+ and Deathnote is definitely creepy. Will have to check out the manga you mention though. Thansk for the list!

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  2. Jan
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:30:45

    I’ve been watching Blood+, and just started Death Note. They’re both excellent anime series. The whole of Death Note is released in manga now, 12 volumes, if you can’t wait for the TV series. The TV series is 39 episodes, which means it won’t be done until next summer! But I think people can rent all of Blood+ now.

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  3. Keishon
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:38:50

    When you mentioned Ito, I thought you were going to recommend Tomi. I haven’t heard of that title from Ito so I’ll have to check it out. I love the look of Blood Alone, it’s one of my favorite series right now. I agree with most of your choices and I have Ghost Hunt in my stacks here and I haven’t heard of the other one you mentioned, Beyond My Touch. I’m sure it’s something I’ll probably have to order. Sigh. Thanks!

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  4. Keishon
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:42:28

    Just to clarify, the other Ito title you couldn’t finish, Uzumaki, was the one I hadn’t heard of before. As for Tomi, it is very good but creepy! I own all three volumes but have only finished the one. I have to be in the mood to read stuff like that.

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  5. Jan
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:54:21

    Anything from Ito is on my recommend list for scaring the pants off people. He also has Gyo and Flesh-colored Horror available in English. Luckily, no one has licensed his Slug Girl. *gag*

    Beyond my Touch is just the cutest thing. Just make sure you have something acerbic to read afterwards.

    I had some problems finding Blood Alone volume three, and in case anyone else does: 1. I asked the publisher and they say the massive demand surprised them, they’re reprinting, and this won’t happen again. 2. They suggested trying a Borders and sure enough, it was on the shelf.

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  6. kardis
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:58:18

    Yay, I love spooky Manga! I have long been a big fan of the Hellsing manga (NOT the anime- blargh) and Ito’s stuff has long scared the sh*t out of me. Thanks for the recomendations, Jan!

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  7. Jan
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 09:58:47

    Ito profoundly disturbs me.

    Have you tried Mushishi Keishon? I think you’d like it.

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  8. Jan
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:06:26

    kardis, I love Hellsing! It’s one of the series that got me into manga. The scene in volume 4 when Alucard, in South America, rips through all those Nazi’s in that hotel and leaves them impaled on stakes around the grounds is one of the best action scenes I’ve ever read.

    Have you been reading the Japanese? It’s almost over. :( But wow what an ending.

    Have you seen any of the new Hellsing anime release, the Hellsing Ultimate OVAs? It’s very faithful to the manga and fantastic animation. Unfortunately, the company that produces it in America, Geneon, just stopped production of all its series so I don’t know if we’ll get more than the first three episodes, but if you have a chance to rent them you should.

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  9. Keishon
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:11:41

    Jan, you know I had the hardest time getting Blood Alone, Vol.3 too, but Waldenbooks had it on the shelf as well. Plenty of copies, too. I didn’t know it was that popular. As for Mushishi, never heard of it. What is that one about?

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  10. Jan
    Oct 24, 2007 @ 10:38:35

    Mushishi is another one of those hard to explain titles. There’s a link in my original post to the book at Amazon, and the person who reviews it there says it better than I could. Plot-wise it’s about a boy who can interact with a life form called the mushi, which cause unexplained occurrences, some good, some bad, most unimportant. The problem is, he’s not all that interested in doing so and helping anyone. He just sort of wanders through life unattached, though he occasionally does get involved.

    What sets the book apart is the atmosphere created by the writing and art. It’s a slow mesmerizing tale, and a beautiful one.

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  11. Jules Jones
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 09:39:14

    Thanks for that, Jan. I finally got to read the last volume of Shout Out Loud this week, so I’m looking around for new manga for my wish list. :-)

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  12. Jan
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 10:09:58

    Hi Jules!

    The romantic ones are mostly for teens, except for Blood Alone. But if you want a light read you could try them.

    I still plan to review your book btw. I’ve had little time to read over the past 6 months so I had to take a leave from here. But things have eased a little so I’m having time to catch up. :) Hopefully after I catch up on BL manga I’ll have some new titles to recommend to you too.

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  13. Jules Jones
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 15:09:20

    I *thought* I hadn’t seen much from you recently. Probably a good thing as far as my bank balance is concerned. :-)

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  14. kardis
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 16:11:28

    Hi Jan,

    I haven’t been reading Hellsing in Japanese, but I absolutely agree with you about that scene in volume 4- amazing. I’ll definitely try to track down the OVAs, my problem with the anime is that they just mucked everything up (IMO). I hate the way it is so hard to get anime and manga over here, although it is much easier than when I first got into it!

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  15. Xandra
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 18:27:55

    Oh awesome! I adore Vampire Knight. It reminds me so much of classic Phyllis A. Whitneys I read as a teenager (although I’m sure if I re-read Whitney now I’d appreciate her writing on more than a superficial level)–classic Gothic romance without the PC-ish modernization of calling it “woman-in-jeopardy.” It’s like a guilty pleasure and the art is so sumptuous that it’s hard not to just stare at some of the pages and pick out the little details.

    I just started reading Deathnote, too, and am enjoying it immensely. Thank you for giving us some good recommendations on the manga front.

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  16. Jan
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 18:50:56

    You’re welcome!

    I love gothic romances too. It may be why I’m drawn to this type of story like you. :) The Cain Saga/Godchild is also gothic, but gothic horror with not much in the way of romance. It’s got that creepy civilized flavor of the rotting aristocracy that gothics do so well.

    Deathnote is incredible. I remember picking the first volume up because someone was bugging me to, and luckily I could get volumes 2-12, because I did that night and I read through to the next morning. What a ride!

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  17. Jan
    Oct 25, 2007 @ 18:57:03

    Hi kardis, the new OVAs are totally worth it. Try to rent them. They follow the manga almost exactly and go into the Nazi arc. The animation looks a lot more like Hirano-sensei’s artwork too, with that woodblock style he has. But they make it so fluid. The fight between Luke Valentine and Alucard is unbelievable.

    I need to watch it again. I’m so glad I bought them while I could.

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  18. horror books
    Jan 10, 2008 @ 11:14:15

    Vampire Knight sounds rather good

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  19. (Jān)
    Jan 10, 2008 @ 11:31:20

    Vampire Knight sounds rather good

    It seems to be a love it or hate it manga. I love it, but I know people who think the style too ornate and the story vapid. I think romance readers would enjoy it though. :)

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