Blood Sucker Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 216
  • ISBN: 1-59816-332-9
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Blood Sucker

Blood Sucker Vol. #01

By Matthew Alexander     July 27, 2006
Release Date: June 13, 2006

Blood Sucker Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Artist: Aki Shimizu / Writer: Saki Okuse
Translated by:Stephen Paul
Adapted by:

What They Say
Three centuries ago, a vampire by the name of Migiri was running a reign of terror across Japan when a hero named Naonosuke Kobayashi cut off his head and sent him to eternal rest... until now. Migiri has been resurrected, and the only thing standing in the way of his vampire army and salvation is Yusuke Himukai, who has a special connection to the warrior who defeated Migiri centuries ago . . .

The Review
TOKYOPOP uses the original wraparound artwork for the cover with some rearrangements of the title and artist/author information. The coloring for the cover art consists of dark shades and muted tones, which lends itself nicely to the overall feel of this dark story. The vampire Migiri is depicted on the front cover holding a naked woman, Kikuri, who has a blood stain running down her chest from Migiri's bite. The back cover shows Migiri's hand holding a katana with a cityscape in the background. The books title is written in solid red over a black border and the exterior of this book is overall quite nice with the exception of the 'Parental Advisory' label. For the life of me I can't figure out why TOKYOPOP would imprint this label instead of using a sticker like just about every other publisher.

This title has good paper quality and an overall good printing, which could potentially cause problems because of the large amount of dark tone work. There are a quite a few panels with solid black shading, most of which are reproduced nicely. However, I'm still bummed whenever I see pages that were originally in color for the Japanese release still being reproduced in black and white, especially when this is done by the bigger publishers. This book has a couple of pages that were originally in color for two of the chapters and I think it would be nice if more publishers would start printing these in color on stock paper like Dark Horse is doing for the re-release of Oh My Goddess! Sure, it may not be as nice as color glossy pages, but it's probably more affordable for publishers and better than nothing for the fans.

Aki Shimizu does an impressive job creating a sense of movement and power in her characters. She does use a lot of speed lines, but at the same time she puts a lot more effort into adding a sense of movement to a characters limbs. This sense of power is important for a title like this with lots of action and supernatural characters. The character design is good with a 'men-in-black' feel to the government agents and a 'thrasher-punk' style for the young vampires. The two more powerful vampire leaders are over three hundred years old and still dress in traditional clothing so there is a nice dichotomy between the two vampire classes. The backgrounds are about average but the shading is quite good and varied.

The translation reads well and I didn't find any glaring Americanizations of the adaptation. Along with this, the editing was also pretty clean of errors. The translation does not include honorifics, which didn't even sink in until I started writing this review. The characters are obviously Japanese and maybe the original lacked honorifics. Honestly, I didn't miss the honorifics and I think this title works just fine without them. Now the SFX on the other hand is a whole other matter. Sometimes they are not translated, sometimes there is a small translation alongside the Japanese text, then translated SFX cover the originals or were added by the publisher. If some of the standalone English SFX were indeed added by the publisher, they fit the story nicely so I can't complain about them, I'm just a little confused with the inconsistency.

Contents: (Oh yes, there may be spoilers)
Three hundred years ago the vampire Migiri, and his second in command Kuraha, tore a bloody gash of terror across Japan. But then a band of samurai dealt Migiri what should have been a killing blow by decapitating him. Unfortunately, a vampire must be stabbed through the heart to destroy him completely. Kuraha was able to steal his masters' body away and hide it until he could recover. Because of the extant of Migiri's injuries, it took him three hundred years to fully recover, but when he did Kuraha was waiting for him in modern day Japan with a woman sacrifice at the ready. But the girl Kuraha is offering up for a sacrifice is Yusuke's girlfriend and he'll be damned if he's going to let her go without a fight. Unfortunately, Yusuke proves to be no match for Migiri. Not only does Yusuke lose his girlfriend but he also loses his right hand and nearly his life.

Two years have passed and Yusuke has fully recovered from his injuries. During that time he has been locked away in a hospital by the government. Then a woman, Maezono, from the National Public Safety Commission comes to retrieve Yusuke to work for them. It turns out Maezono is a vampire, who along with her team are trying to hunt down and destroy Migiri and the other vampires. This theme isn't necessarily a new concept in vampire stories, but it does set up the possibility for a lot of inner conflict between Yusuke and Maezono.

The vampire hoard is quick to strike against Yusuke and his new comrades to protect their master. Good fight scenes and more dead vampires and humans than you can shake a stick at, sets up this story of revenge. Will Yusuke ever find his girlfriend Migiri stole from him? Can Migiri be defeated? Will Maezono continue to fight for the humans, or will she succumb to the desires of a true vampire?

I enjoy Saki Okuse's storytelling, for this title and Twilight of the Dark Master, the latter of which he also illustrated. But I think Aki Shimizu is a better artist than Okuse, so I'm glad to see them teamed up with each other for Blood Sucker. Together they turn this title into an interesting tale of feudal era vampires in modern day Japan depicted by powerful and pleasing artwork. Personally, I like the idea that the main character loses his right hand early on and has to go through the rest of his life with such a disability. As far as the story goes, I'm already enjoying the sparks between Yusuke and his vampire partner Maezono. The creators also do a good job displaying the angst Maezono must be experiencing with the scene where she has to drink blood from a blood bank. She obviously hates it, yet afterwards her face and body is torn between ecstasy for the life-sustaining properties of the blood and disgust for what she has become.

After the opening chapter Migiri is left to the shadows, so I'm excited to see where volume two will take us. As the story progresses, I think it will be interesting to see both Maezono battle her inner demons and Yusuke battle his when he is inevitably forced to make the decision between killing his old girlfriend and joining her. That is, of course, if he can live that long.


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