[Image description: Manga cover. Mostly in shades of blue is a young man smirking and opening a book.]
Author: Jun Mochizuki
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★.
In a late 19th century Paris plagued by vampires…who is Vanitas, and what secrets does he hold?
I am making a rare exception in reviewing because Yen Press is for the first time offering asimulcast of a work of Mochizuki Jun. An author I am especially fond of. This means about 24 hours after the chapter launches in Japan a translated chapter will be electronically available from Amazon and other retailers. This is a fairly new practice (it may be the first) I would like to support.
Mild spoilers: I posted a few pages to show-off the artwork (including the identity of Vanitas).
One thing I must always say about Mochizuki is her art is stellar, as in, a microcosm of impeccable details.
That is supposed to be an airship by the way. Mohizuki’s frenetic art is well suited to the steampunk genre.
Another one of the qualities of Mochizuki’s art is her character designs and expressions. You will find few manga authors with as many varied expressions that are uniquely hers. And the base designs are always gorgeous and unique. Even background characters are individualized. Few authors put as much effort into detail alone as Mochizuki and it pays off in great amounts.
Of course when she wants to turn on Nightmare Fuel she douses the viewer in a cold shower. Mochizuki is endlessly talented at seamlessly moving from eloquent scenes of beauty to a dreamscape of your darkest nightmares. The plot always follows these changes in a smooth flow. “Vanitas” is a continuation of her work in “Pandora Hearts” of heart-wrenching storylines that teeter between cute and sweet and something that will haunt you for days.
It’s hard to judge plot based on one chapter alone (and I do hope “Vanitas” proves to be a more inclusive storyline than “Pandora Hearts” had, though a dark-skinned protagonist is a great way to start) nevertheless I have also waited for this release for months and I was not dissapointed. The storyline is adequately set-up and so is the possibility of many gut-wrenching turns that were present in her “Pandora Hearts” storyline. These is already a solid basis and a goal for the protagonists (though I wouldn’t doubt one of them will prove to be the antagonist given Mochizuki’s narrative style) and an ominous future prediction.
It is well worth supporting Yen Press in this endeavor.