Black Sun, Silver Moon Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Danielle Van Gorder
Review Date: Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Release Date: Monday, April 30, 2007
Translated by:Christine Schilling
Adapted by:Mallory Reaves
What They Say
Taki thought he was getting just what he needed: a nice, quiet job to pay off his late father's debts. Instead, he got priest Shikimi, who orders him to cleanse the church of all impurities - including the zombies! Suddenly forced into the role of maid by day and demon-hunter by night, Taki's about to find out what other secrets Shikimi has been hiding behind his silver eyes and calm, calculating smile...
Don't let the talk fool you - this is a story that should appeal to a wide range of fans.
The cover features a shot of Taki and Shikimi standing side by side against a simple background of a red cross on white, almost like a flag. The logo is onobtrusive yet sylish, as are the other cover elements. Overall a very balanced design. The printing for the most part looks clear, blacks are dark, and screen tones avoid looking muddy. After the main story there are bonus pages, including a bit on how to play Kokkuri-san, followed by several one-page ads for other Go Comi titles.
Tomo Maeda's art is deceptively simple. At first glance, it looks almost sketchy, with few of the elaborate details that other artists rely on. Backgrounds are usually nonexistant, with screentone taking their place. The real impact of her art, however, is in her character's expressions, which are delightfully expressive and communicate as much of the story as the actual text does in many places. Her panel layout is equally simple, but the art flows so smoothly from panel to panel that, again, it works so well that it's hard to imagine it being any other way.
The script feels a bit forced at points, but for the most part flows smoothly. All sound effects are subtitled in a style similar to the original effect - overall, this looks very clean and works well, without severely disrupting either the original art or the intended flow of the art.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
In order to pay off his late father's debts, Taki has left home to serve Shikimi, a priest with a rather deceptive smile. Not only do his duties involve cleaning up after Shikimi and pouring tea, but at night Taki is expected to go out in the graveyard to fight the newly risen dead. It's not a task that he particularly likes, but oddly enough he has no fear of the situation, even initially. Shikimi himself is an enigma - just a few years before his eyes and hair were a different color, the townsfolk treat him like his mere touch will contaminate them, and he tells Taki that his duties will, at one point, involve killing him. Yet at the same time, while Shikimi's personality is somewhat twisted, he shows himself capable of surprising depths of understanding.
The mysteries don't stop there. While the freshly dead are slow and easy to kill, those who have been awakened for longer grow faster and more agile the longer they're awake. When Taki underestimates his opponent, Shikimi saves him in a manner that raises more questions than it answers. But Shikimi isn't the only one with some odd contradictions - while Taki is fearless against undead monsters, a small puppy is enough to almost terrify him. As it turns out, his fear is rooted in an old pain that the dog helps him come to terms with in a fairly amusing fashion. The main story ends with even more questions raised about Shikimi's past and how he came to be the way he is.
The end of the book is an amusing story about a perpetually young king and his search for love. Since not many people would believe that a man who looks (and acts) like a small child, his servant poses as the king to meet with potential suitors, to see which ones are only interested in the throne, and which ones might actually be interested in the boy king for himself. It's a fairly predictable story, but fun nonetheless.
While many people seem to be writing this off as a BL series, don't let that fool you. While there are no real shounen-ai elements, there's a surprisingly interesting story in here that's likely to appeal to a wide range of fans, especially female shounen fans and fans of supernatural or mystery stories stories. And not just girls - what's not to love about zombie fighting? And the story unfolds quite nicely, with a blend of character interaction, comedy, and action that's paced quite well. By the end of this volume, there are quite a few unanswered questions that leave me wanting more.
The characters are fun - Taki's honest passion makes for a nice contrast against Shikimi's cold mask. The story, while it does have interesting elements, is nothing exceptional, but there's still enough to keep most readers interested. I certainly intend to check out future volumes to find out where this oddly fascinating story is going.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Go! Comi
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Black Sun, Silver Moon