Friday, February 22, 2008

The Record of a Fallen Vampire vol. 1 Impression

Eternal life and eternal love collide in The Record of a Fallen Vampire volume 1 from Viz Media. Vampire King Akabara has lived a long life; one recently spent searching for his lost love, the Vampire Queen Adelheid. The queen was sealed away by humans years ago when she almost destroyed all life on the planet with her immense power. These same humans created thousands of fake seals around the planet to hide the real location of the queen from Akabara. In all his years of hunting for the proper seal the king is in turn hunted by human and dhampires alike. The bigger threat are the half-human, half-vampire dhampires, but it’s the emergence of the Black Swan that can truly lead the demise of Akabara. Please note there are possible spoilers ahead. See the Black Swan appeared to fight the king with powers that absorb the king’s magic. Appearing in a new host female the memories and powers are passed down from swan to swan along with a power boost. We join the story with dhampire Jin Renka fighting Akabara with his spiritual swords Koryu and Kinyo, and getting his butt kicked as the new Black Swan shows up. This 49th Black Swan, Yuki Komatsubara, is closer than ever to matching the power of the king, but she’s done in by the king’s experience, a tactic that the next swan will know about. As the king battles he meets a little dhampire girl named Laetitia in the woods and promises to get her somewhere safe where she will not be hunted. Fast forward fifty years and the king, with his little buddy Laetitia approach a new seal, where an ambush is set by Jin and a few more vampire hunting friends. The trap does not work so well, especially with Laetitia’s backup. She shoots a big gun from distance and is now known as the Mountain Cat. All is in the kings favor until the 50th Black Swan shows up, and indeed she is stronger than the king, but she wounds, does not kill the king and behold, it’s Yuki ... what the is all Jin can say.

The art, by Yuri Kimura, is pleasing to the eye with a style reminiscent of Shojo vampire titles, but possessing a taste of more Shonen titles. The vampires are pretty, but not girly-boy pretty. The settings are nothing ground-breaking, but they do relay the level of society with cities and countryside both represented. The story could have been very cookie-cutter for a vampire tale but Kyo Shirodaira avoids cliché by utilizing dhampires as well as a love story between a king and queen that seems so basic, yet has planet destroying consequences. Figuring out where the Black Swan came from, what the motivation of the current 50th swan is as well as the history of the characters will make this one manga to watch for vampire fans out there. Fans of Vampire Hunter D may also find this title of great interest as it offers up great action mixed with powerful vampires, dhampires and a story that draws from so many other vampire epics without ripping them off.

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