Vampire's Portrait Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Danielle Van Gorder
Review Date: Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, October 21, 2008

When Lou is hired to paint Sein's true face, he winds up finding much more than he had originally bargained for. 

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Hiroki Kusumoto
Translation: Sachiko Sato
Adaptation: Sachiko Sato

What They Say
A starving artist, Ru sits on a street corner and draws everyday. In an age of patrons and artists, he longs for the day a noble will acknowledge his ability and support him. When a man called Zain commissions him to draw his portrait, Ru soon discovers that his patron is not only incredibly wealthy and generous - he's also dead! Instead of being fearful of the blood-thirsty vampire, Ru realizes that he longs for the pull of Zain's lips on his neck and doesn't want Zain to drink anyone's blood but his own!

The Review!
Packaging:

DMP has done an excellent job on this book overall.  The print quality is excellent, with sharp, crisp line reproduction and dark blacks, the paper is a brighter white than some of their recent releases, and the blacks are dark and even.  There's the usual color wraparound dustjacket, and several ads in the back for other new and forthcoming DMP titles.

Artwork:

The art here is quite unusual, dark and heavy, which fits the gothic tone of the book nicely.  The CG color art on the cover doesn't really show off Kusumoto's art to its best advantage - the incredible detail and dense shading really looks best in black and white.  She has an excellent sense of the dramatic, and manages deeply emotional faces and dynamic action sequences with equal skill.  This isn't your average pretty book, but the art is absolutely stunning.  The panel where Lou discovers Sein being crucified is amazing, showing the artistic sensibility of a woman at the top of her craft.

Text/SFX:

All sound effects are translated, with the translation located near the original effect in a similar font.  This does end up looking slightly out of place in some of the action scenes with larger effects, mostly because the originals have rough, jagged borders, while the replacements are much smoother.  While it isn't terrible, a little extra effort on these would have made the addition much more seamless.  The translation itself flowed very smoothly with very few lines that felt rough or out of place, and did a good job of giving each character a distinctive voice.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):

When Lou finds himself hired by a strange and handsome man to paint his true face, he wasn't expecting the commission to be as difficult as it was.  His patron is Sein, a strange and moody man who destroys Lou's first attempts in a fit of pique.  In the process, Lou winds up being cut and bleeding, which causes Sein to attack him.  It doesn't take long for Lou to figure out Sein's true nature, but rather than being afraid, he's more eager than ever to take on the challenge. 

Things don't remain quite so simple for long, however.  Sein seems to have some connection with Lou's grandfather, although he hasn't figured out yet what the connection is.  And by drinking Lou's blood, Sein has apparently broken a contract with a man named Adam, who doesn't take the rejection well.

When Lou gets a note telling him to go with Adam for his own safety, he has no idea what's going on, but he doesn't much like it.  He ends up getting sucked into a world of wealth, ancient magics, and old grudges, where he doesn't know the stakes or the players, and his very life is at risk.

Comments:

Going into this I wasn't sure what to expect, but what I got was an unexpectedly compelling story that was fast moving and plot-dense, full of action and violence and suspense.  This is the sort of vampire story that's likely to appeal to fans of more than just BL - while the romance is certainly there, there's nothing here to earn the 18+ rating, at least in this volume.  What really surprised me was how quickly I was sucked in by the story, and how surprised I was to reach the end of the book - it really just flew by.  Initially, I thought that this was going to be a flaw - the beginning of the story is rather abrupt, and just flings the reader into the midst of the story, but the structure makes much more sense when it becomes clear how much larger the actual story is.  The characters were interesting, with new elements and angles coming out as the story progressed to add new depth and shading.  There were even some funny points to balance it all out.  I really enjoyed this book, and can't wait to get my hands on the next volume.



Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: A
Age Rating: 18 and Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
MSRP: 12.95
Pages: 200
ISBN: 9781569705902
Size: A5
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Vampire's Portrait