A twisted tale of why you must never touch an unknown object.
Writer/Artist: Kyung-il Yang and Art by Hyung-min Kim
What They Say
Among the quiet villages and towns of 18th century Europe, demons known as the Ill hide within the most beautiful works of art, sparked to life by the torment of their creators. Attracted by their jewel-like allure, the unwary find themselves possessed by the Ill and driven to horrific acts of violence. Only the hunters of the Ciste Vihad can dispel the Ill.
March is one such hunter, tracking the Ill from town to town to find the antiques that contain the demons before they can possess anyone. If the worst has come to pass, March's full powers are unleashed to battle the fiendish Ill. Born of tragedy, the artifacts all have their own tales to tell, as do each of their victims. But March's story may be the most tragic of all.
The cover here is a rather nice one, displaying March dead center with roses and thorns bursting out from her body. However, March’s face seems a little off, giving her something of doll-like appearance that seems at odds with the artwork presented in the book. The back cover fairs even better, displaying an orange and black image of March’s thorns erupting from a shadowy silhouette displayed over a full moon, with a quick plot summary off to the side. Both covers contain glossy, raised elements, notably the title and the thorns on the back, which is a nice touch. As with all Viz signature series, the book is presented in a nice, enlarged format. The paper quality is solid, and words from the author are presented in comic form at the end of the volume.
The art contained within is solid, displaying a good bit of detail, shading, and backgrounds. The amount of style present here, however, is what really makes this book look so fantastic, displaying otherworldly thorns, elegant masks, and corpse filled dungeons over the course of the volume. It all adds up to make a something that is unique and beautiful from start to finish. The text reads smoothly here, and sound effects are displayed in stylized English text.
As the story begins, we are introduced to March, a “Ciste Vihad,” hunters of demonic objects that possess humans known as “Ill.” Once these Ill kill a human, their horns are dyed red and the host they have possessed no longer has any hope of redemption. As such, March mysterious Ill-like powers to manipulate thorns to save humans from the Ill, or destroy them if they are past the point of no return.
Soon after this introduction, we are introduced to a young girl named Pircollet who is working as a clown in her father’s circus. Unfortunately, her fellow clowns are cruel and mock her at every turn, leaving her bitter towards her position and dreaming of flying through the air on the trapeze. By way of a random muffin sitting on the ground, she meets March, who soon tells her that one must never touch an object without knowing what it is (and then totally eats the muffin.) However, despite March’s warning, Pircollet ends up finding the Ill and letting it consume her. She then proceeds to aim for her dreams, hurrying to the trapeze, only to fall quickly and severely injure her father. Luckily, March is able to save her, as she has yet to kill, and she soon comes to accept her lot in life as someone who makes people smile.
In the next chapter, we are introduced to a city menaced by a man named “Orche the Masked,” who swoops down and grabs anyone who goes out without a mask, and dances with them in the sky before dropping them to their deaths. Though Zen, a mask-maker in the city who loved him before the Ill got to him, contracted March to save him, Orche has already killed, pushing this story to a tragic conclusion. Next, we get a short story of a non-violent Ill with a bad memory that forces March to aid it in its final wish, and learn that March is secretly a woman pretending to be a man.
With the last chapter, we get a glance into March’s tragic past. Originally, March was a simple young girl living with her elder sister in a town with a terrible secret: the townspeople are being forced to build weapons of torture and look the other way as a terrifying Ill satisfies her whims by slowly killing off and torturing the citizens. When March finally speaks up out of disgust at this terrifying cycle, the Ill brings down her wrath, taking the village people captive and placing March alone in corpse-filled dungeon. A strong Ciste Vihad woman named Jake appears, but makes the mistake of leaving March alone in order to search out the Ill. As a result, March soon runs into the Ill and is forced to flee for her life, returning to the dungeon and discovering another Ill in the form of a torture device made by March’s parents before their slaughter. Forced to make a difficult choice, young March answers the siren call of the Ill, and is possessed by a being made incredibly powerful by the dying regrets of the many townspeople. This Ill then destroys the other Ill and devours it, only to be discovered and defeated in combat by Jake. Fearing for its newfound life, it makes a deal: it will sleep within March, only awakening when March finally finds love. Thus, in order to avoid this tragic fate, March was forced to assume the guise of a young man, and decided to utilize her newfound powers in the service of the Ciste Vihad.
This series is certainly off to a solid start with this opening volume, offering tales of tragedy and love, redemption and despair, and beauty and depravity. With each chapter the tone changes slightly, but keeps an overarching thread linking things together through the character of March. The episodic nature here works well, showing in each case a unique set of well thought out characters and situations. Not only that, but the background plot elements related to March shown throughout have a rather dark yet intriguing nature to them, and leave a real question of how things will progress. Hopefully the rest of the series will prove as tightly woven and beautifully designed as this one