Quick comic comments: CMX’s dead girls

January 28, 2007

I’m not what you’d call a big fan of vampire fiction, though there are certainly individual examples that I’ve enjoyed (Buffy, Fright Night, and, to my shame, The Lost Boys). What always interests me most is what bits and pieces of vampire mythos the creators will adopt or abandon to serve their narrative purposes.

That’s part of the fun of Chika Shiomi’s Canon (CMX). Shiomi has her own take on essential elements of the bloodsucking undead – the necessity of feeding, the effectiveness of religious iconography as a repellent, reversibility of turning, and so on – and her choices make sense for her storytelling ends.

Beyond the relative mechanics of vampirism on display, Canon’s titular heroine is an intriguing addition to the legion of vampires with a conscience. Sickly and sheltered in life, her traumatic conversion (which featured the death of 39… that’s 39… beloved classmates) has toughened her up without eliminating her essentially compassionate nature.

She’s on a mission to find and stop the vampire who turned her and used her class as a buffet, and she runs into various denizens of the vampire community in her quest for justice. Some share her aims, and others object to her existence on principle. (They favor vampires who are born to those who are made.) Perils come at Canon from every direction, which is always a promising starting point for a manga series.

Canon does bear a striking physical resemblance to another Shiomi heroine, Aria from Go! Comi’s Night of the Beasts. Though they look alike and both have names derived from music theory, their personalities are entirely distinct. Shiomi seems to have a knack for creating interesting and independent female protagonists.

(Review based on a preview copy provided by the publisher.)

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While writing about the offerings in a recent volume of Previews, I think I had mentioned that the premise for Keiko Yamada’s Go Go Heaven!! (CMX) – “Smitten by the newly deceased [Shirayuki], the Prince [of Hell] grants Shirayuki 49 days to relive her life and resolve any unfinished business.” – sounded interesting. Unfortunately, the manga itself doesn’t live up to the bare-bones description.

Based on the first volume, it seems as though Shirayuki’s extra lifespan will be devoted to a series of purportedly comic humiliations visited upon her by the insufferably bratty Prince and his stereotypical entourage of beautiful boys. If Shirayuki had any gumption in the face of adversity, it might be more bearable. She does have one or two transcendent moments of perfectly understandable outrage, but her reactions are mostly restricted to bafflement and weeping, neither of which generated a great deal of sympathy or even its sickly cousin, pity.

I’ve liked what I’ve browsed of Yamada’s Vs. (also from CMX), but I’ll have to pass on Go Go Heaven!!

(Review based on a preview copy provided by the publisher.)

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I’m a bit disappointed by how much I liked the first volume of Toru Fujieda’s Oyayubihime Infinity (CMX), as I really don’t relish the prospect of typing “Oyayubihime” every time I write about it. I’m also not charitably inclined towards reincarnation romance. Some might cotton to the idea of destined love spanning the centuries, but I find it a little stifling. (What’s the point of reincarnation if you keep running into the same people over and over again?)

Still, I was completely charmed by the characters in this quirky comedy. The fact that surly heroine Kanoko gives a skeptical stink-eye to destined love made me an instant fan, but her flaky, needy suitor Tsubame won me over as well. And Fujieda strongly suggests that pacts made by past-life predecessors may not entirely determine the course of their contemporary incarnations.