Ludwig II Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Release Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Writer/Artist: You Higuri
Translation: Ben Applegate
Adaptation: Ben Applegate
What They Say
The kingdom of Bavaria was absorbed into the German Empire during the latter half of the 19th century. The stunningly handsome king of Bavaria - who never married and who would have operas and plays privately staged for him - wandered between fantasy and reality, alone in his extravagant crystal palace, Neuschwantstein. 'I want to remain an eternal mystery to myself and others', Ludwig II once said, and now we reach the final act of his drama.
These volumes sport the sleeveless cover that DMP/June had previously adopted. Abandoned is the ugly pink horizontal banner that ruined so many covers, replacing it with a vertical banner that identifies, yet does not detract. This improvement should benefit all titles across the board, but this title is especially impressive with it's primary color palette of warm brown and gold set off by royal blue of Ludwig's uniform on the first and of the royal robes on the second. Sadly, the color illustration on the covers is the only one; there are no inserts in either of the volumes.
You Higuri's more polished and stylistically consistent form is evident here, but so is a lot of sloppy and ill-considered artwork and humor. Be prepared to be occasionally visually jarred and jolted out of the moment. Sex scenes here are not graphic. Concepts and content are appropriate for the rated age group (16+).
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
If there was ever an historical personage whose life was so emblematic of his times, it's Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886), often called the "mad" king for his passionate support of the operas of Richard Wagner and his expansive castle building throughout Bavaria. (Neuschwanstein is his creation and Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle is its kitschy 20th century descendant, although it could be argued that Neuschwanstein is a marvelous piece of kitsch in itself.)
Ludwig became king in 1864, a time of great change in Europe. National consciousness in the kingdoms of both Italy and Germany was moving these two fractured areas to nation statehood. It was a not good time to be a king, especially that of a major German dynasty facing the military powerhouse of Prussia, and to be a king for whom political matters were of less consequence than the promotion of Middle Age mythical kingdoms. Ludwig's interests were bound to involve him in tragedy and You Higuri takes good advantage of this ready-made script - one more tragic, more R(r)omantic and more doomed than anyone could fabricate.
You Higuri does not fail Ludwig. Her considerable historical research is chronicled in the extras entitled "Visiting Lu Sama: The Road to Bavaria", and in the list of film and print references provided at the end of Book 1. Her approach has the sweep of an opera, so appropriate for the life of Richard's Wagner's major patron and supporter. Using her research, she takes the key personages, events and passions of Ludwig's life and reshapes them to reflect on and in Ludwig at center stage amidst political intrigue and increasing isolation as a result of his devotion and thrall to an energized Germanic mythology.
Less committed readers may find some of the political exposition off-putting, but it is a skillful simplification of events that is so necessary to explain Ludwig's tragedy. But however historically bound Higuri's approach is, she does not neglect the less visible aspects of his "madness". Ludwig's romance with a Parsifal singer is an inspired choice to show his devotion to the myth It also becomes the barometer of his mental state in a way that will surprise the reader.
This title was on fandom's wish list for quite awhile, but I do wonder if more recent and more racy BL offerings have eclipsed it in popularity. This is more of an historical romance with BL touches than the conventional BL graphic novel we have come to expect. Fans of the historical novel will find a great example of the genre, and tragic romance junkies will find that this meets their expectations.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translation Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
Orientation: Right to Left