As I was going through my review copies, trying to decide which ones to focus on this week, I realized that I had overlooked two supernatural titles released by Digital Manga Publishing back in July 2010. Both titles are interesting enough for libraries to consider adding to their collections, with one being more contemplative horror/fantasy and the other lighter action/fantasy.
Tale of a White Night
Age Rating: YA/Young Adult/16+
DMP, July 2010, ISBN 9781569701072
184 pages, $12.95
This collection of shorts (from the creator of the YA-rated boys’ love title Il Gatto Sul G) is a mixed bag of horror and fantasy which never quite achieves greatness, but is still a decent read. The first four stories are folklore-ish horror tales. In “Offering” and “The Fall” teens’ lives are changed when they meet hungry gods and determined oni (demons). The ghosts in “Funeral” and “Invitation” seek vengeance for a variety of wrongs. None of the stories are as creepy as they could be, but they are creepy enough to be a good pick for readers who like their scares a little less…scary. The final, longer story–“East of the Sun, West of the Moon”–has a fantasy-like setting (though it is not a retelling of the Norwegian fairy tale) and it continues the theme of vengeance. A young woman whose people were wiped out in a brutal war comes to the victor’s city seeking the traitor who got her brother killed. Unfortunately it is obviously an older work and does really move past standard shojo fantasy. But the characters are sympathetic which helps carry readers through to the end.
Miyagi’s art is full of very pretty boys with angular chins and attractively floppy hair, typical for a creator who works a lot in boys’ love. She has a way of drawing horror which highlights the fantasy elements of it, rather than the gore, so nothing is inappropriate for a high school audience. (That’s not to say that bad things don’t happen, however, since that is the point of horror.) The transition between her newer, more graceful art in the horror stories and her older art in the fantasy tale is somewhat jarring to readers and more creator notes would have been interesting to read, but overall this isn’t a bad choice for libraries looking to add creepy shojo that isn’t too graphic and is complete in one volume.
Wolf God, vol. 1
Age Rating: T/Teen/13+
DMP/Doki Doki, July 2010, ISBN 9781569700808
200 pages, $12.95
Kyounosuke is the default heir to his “inugami” (wolf god) clan, unless he can find his missing older brother Kokuyou. He has tracked his brother’s scent to Tokyo, but the city is so large and so full of strange smells and sights that Kyounosuke may never be able to find his lost sibling. While lost and sick in Tokyo, Kyounosuke meets schoolgirl Koyuki who takes him in and cares for him, but doing so puts Koyuki in danger from a host of strange people and creatures.
Tenkawa’s first published series is fun, though a tad predictable, but that predictability will probably work in the series’ favor by catching the eye of younger teens looking for even more action with a touch of humor. The action sequences are clear and easy to follow, which makes the story a fast read, and the humor is doled out in the just the right amounts to keep things light. The biggest problem may be with the character names. Too many of them start with “K”–Kyounosuke, Kokuyou, Koyuki Kiryuu, Kurogane, Kou, and Kanosuke–and they begin to run together, at least to the average Western reader. But readers who get involved in the fun probably will ignore that small quibble.
Tenkawa’s art is soft and just-this-side of cutesy, similar in feel to that of Lily Hoshino or Mikiyo Tsuda, though not as unique as either of them. The almost cartoonish style is a terrific fit to Tenkawa’s combination of action, fantasy, and humor. Her big headed, wide eyed characters look and act like young teens, making them easy to identify with by both shojo and shonen readers. Fans of action series with lots of characters, compelling destinies, and just the right amount of humor will enjoy Kyounosuke’s adventures. Suggest this one to Naruto fans who want something with the same sort of flavor, but sans ninjas.
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Digital Manga Publishing.