I think I’ve got the hook for a commercially successful attempt to license classic shôjo manga. After careful perusal of the past month’s worth of Graphic Book Best Seller lists at The New York Times, a trend has emerged: people seem to like reading about angst-ridden, young-looking vampires. And while this is not an identifier at the top of my must-buy list, more licensed manga by Moto Hagio does hover around the top of that list.
You know, just because moody blood-suckers are one of the current big things doesn’t mean this is the first time they’ve enjoyed that pride of place. Back in the day, Hagio was rocking out the vamps with her nine-volume series, Poe no Ichizoku (sometimes translated as “The Poe Clan”). It was originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Flower Comics in the early 1970s.
It’s apparently about a pair of abandoned human children who are taken in by a family of vampires, or “Vampanellas.” Now, vampire fiction makes me giggle to begin with, and “Vampanellas” sounds like some kind of Italian breakfast pastry filled with ox-bone marrow and possibly dried fruit, but I could get over that. It’s Moto Hagio, and she could call them “Bloodsuckeronis” and I wouldn’t care.
From what I can discern, there’s lots of angst about whether or not one actually becomes a vampire and, one presumes, tons of sexual tension between vampire and non-vampire cast members. Since it’s Hagio, I would assume that this sexual tension is not limited to mixed-gender couplings. Of course, I also would assume that, if the book featured moody boy vampires making cow-eyes at each other, somebody would already have licensed it.
Poe no Ichizoku won the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1976. It, along with Hagio’s They Were Eleven, took the shônen category, presumably because they were awesome and the program did not yet have a shôjo category. (They Were Eleven ran in Shôjo Comic, and it was included in Viz’s out-of-print Four Shôjo Stories.)