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Vampire Game



8.14.2003 by Scott, every Thursday.

Well, the dog days of summer are here, and the mix of my office’s arctic A/C and the Cambodian jungle feel that Montreal is now offering up to its citizens, I have been sick as a, well, dog this week. I guess that’s why they could be called the “dog” days of summer, either that or the Nyquil has made me loopy. On the upside, I received a whole bunch a Manga couriered to the Tangmonkey.com Comics office courtesy of TokyoPop comics, so I have plenty of reviews to offer up this week.

Manga comics are a little bit disorienting to read, until you get used to reading them. It usually takes me 5 pages to get into the groove of them. The books read back to front and right to left, just as they did in their original Japanese form. Some companies in the past would flip the art to make it look more like the western comics, but that takes away from the authenticity, the foreign flair, and occasionally, the continuity of the art, especially if it was a 2-page splash. So TokyoPop keeps it traditional.

I read 3 titles of theirs this week, “Vampire Game” by Judal, “X-Day” by Setona Mizushiro, and “Brigadoon” by Nozomi Watase. Different genres of book, all three titles vary in style and theme, so I figured it was an okay place to start.

“Vampire Game” is described this way by TokyoPop on their website:

Centuries ago the king of Saint Pheliosta, and the Vampire King, Duzell, had a monumental duel. Duzell was defeated and swore that he would fight again in his next reincarnation. Reborn as a wildcat, Duzell is picked up from the wild by Ishtar, the great-granddaughter of his nemesis, Phelios. The fate of ages is reborn and the vampire game begins.

And, oh yeah, did we mention that this is a comedy?

So that’s the breakdown of what the book was about. I read through the 200+ pages of volume one in the series, and I found it to be fun and cute. The publisher self-regulates its books and gives it an age rating of “13+ Teen”, but the book isn’t childish in anyway. If you’re a fan of Animes like “Ranma ½” or “Slayers”, you should like this book. I was pretty cynical about it when I picked it up, but the quirky characters won me over, and I wanted to find out where the series was going. It was fun and funny, and once I’d realized what kind of entertainment to expect from the book, I enjoyed it greatly.

Mizushiro’s “X-Day” was a big break in style after reading a book about a vampire kitten. With a rating of “16+ Older Teen”, X-Day has more of a teenage drama feel to it, comparable to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or a less sucky “Dawson’s Creek”. The story is about a depressed schoolgirl trying to deal with the awfulness of being a depressed schoolgirl in high school. She haphazardly stumbles across a plan to blow up the school on a weekend when it’s empty with some fellow school goers in an online chat room, and they dub the date “X-Day”. The characters are moody and three dimensional, and the plot is well paced, but it was the art that really caught my eye. Long, moody stares. Silent panels and close ups that bleed emotion from the page. Some of the best emotion conveyed in comic art that I’ve ever seen. In a book with no giant robots or mutants or vampires, raw emotion fuels it, and makes you read from one page to the next. From a book I picked up expecting to loathe to one that made me anxious for the next volume, I was surprised to find a fan in myself for this book.

Lastly, I’m half-way through “Brigadoon”, which is set in 1969 Japan, except alien invaders have covered the sky and are sending monsters down to attack and kill a 13 year old girl. Seriously. Brigadoon is another 13+ Teen rated book, and also has a talking cat named Lolo, and plays fast and loose with its audience. Mixing in chibis (super deformed or ultra cutsie versions of characters), a bit of “Dumb and Dumber” type humour (A panty raiding schoolboy gets beat up), and a ninja robot for space (the “Blue Swordsman”), Brigadoon just didn’t grab me like I thought it would. I think I’m outside its target audience, a little too old and too, uh, a man to really get into it.

Well, that’s it for this week. Stay tuned for more comic reviews in the future, including the newest Wolverine, The Ultimates, and Zodiac P.I.

-Scott MacIver

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