Tetragrammaton Labyrinth Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, August 23, 2007
Release Date: Saturday, June 30, 2007
What They Say
When darkness falls on the foggy streets of London, demons and monsters emerge to prey on human life. But demons aren't the only ones prowling the streets. Two women have picked up the fight as humanity's frontline defense against the darkness--a young gun-toting nun named Sister Meg and her mysterious, eternally youthful partner Angela. Together, they have made it their life's work to spend their nights hunting the vile demons that stalk mankind.
A goth-loli and a hot nun have the possibility of some girl-girl love, but do we really want horror and detailed dismemberment thrown into that mix?
The eternally youthful goth-loli Angela graces the cover of volume one. She has the seemingly goth-loli prerequisite pigtails and a black and white gothic styled dress with a slight nun-flavor to it. Considering the story itself, I think the title graphic and volume number with gothic crosses is a perfect match. The back cover has a synopsis and another picture of Angela. As I have come to expect from Seven Seas, the print quality is perfect, which is important considering the large number of pages with expansive areas of solid black tone. I also greatly appreciate the larger format size for a mere twelve bucks compared to the more expensive larger format books of other publishers. Extras consist of color pages, character profiles at the beginning of each chapter, a few pages of author comics and omake, and translation notes.
goth-loli's, deformed human-monster females, nuns wielding guns, and detailed backgrounds; Itou's got just about everything in this story. The overall detail in this book is thorough, from Angela's frilly outfits to the intricate detail of bones and muscle fibers on severed arms. I really enjoyed the varied amount of detail in the character eyes, which varied with their emotions. Angela's design and mysterious background make her an interesting character. She appears to be around twelve, with goth dresses and pigtails, but she carries a massive scythe and appears emotionless as she kills monsters and goes through everyday life. That is at least until her partner, Meg, is threatened, which causes Angela to emotionally come alive. Meg's character reminds me an awful lot of Sister Rosette from Chrono Crusade, with her nun's dress split up both sides to reveal her thigh-highs and combat boots. Not that I'm really complaining, I love thigh-highs. Itou's monsters are unique and grotesque, and with Angela's ability to regenerate her body, there is no shortage of dismemberment. The backgrounds are highly detailed and the panel layout is nicely varied throughout the story.
Honorifics remain and the SFX are translated alongside in a way that mimics the original SFX. In places where the space is limited, English SFX overlay the original Japanese. The translation/adaptation reads well for the most part. However, unlike other cleanly edited titles from Seven Seas, this volume suffers from a few stutter-step instances where words are missing mid-dialogue. Nevertheless, Adam is cool about this stuff and will probably fix it before a second print run.
Contents: (Oh yes, there may be spoilers)
Someone is leaving the disfigured corpses of young women scattered across the streets of London. With no clues to draw from, a confused detective wanders into a church in search of solace. With no priest on duty, the detective describes his fears and frustrations to Meg, a young nun. Realizing the horrors he has exposed Meg to, the detective apologizes and professes he's heard of 'professionals' that deal with horrific occult-like cases such as the current rash of murders. With that said, he leaves to find some comfort with his favorite hooker.
Meg decides to search out a local professor that may know something about the murders. Unfortunately, the professor turns out to know a lot about it because he's the culprit. He tries to use Meg in his experiments to resurrect his daughter's health, but Meg's young friend Angela bursts onto the scene. Wait a minute, what the hell can a twelve year old do in a situation like this? Turns out Angela isn't exactly human, and after this goth-loli whips out her massive scythe, all hell/guts breaks loose. I mean we're talking major dismemberment to be avoided by the squeamish at all costs.
Angela seems to be invincible as she can regenerate her body as long as Meg calls for her help. So there seems to be some kind of connection between the two that remains a mystery. Together they use their abilities in the name of the church to hunt down occultists and humans possessed by demons. These demons survive by gorging themselves on innocent humans and they can take some rather grotesque forms, kind of reminding me of the Wicked City monster designs. The story could become very formulaic, but instead an interesting combining of Eastern and Western magic and supernatural phenomena combine in later chapters as a woman from Japan comes to London in search of a magical katana. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of Meg's western magic and the Japanese woman's eastern magic and ability to control demons.
One last aspect about this story that sets it apart from others is the situation with Angela's weapon. Her scythe shatters mid-story due to over use. Then she acquires a magical katana for a short time, only to lose it. So there doesn't appear to be the 'here's your magical weapon, go kick ass' aspect like the one so many stories begin with. I personally look forward to the realistic aspect that weapons wear out and break from use that this story seems to be promising. Although, the pervy old weapon-maker character supplying Angela's weapons is a rather played out character.
I don't know how many people looking for yuri-rrific titles want to see goth-loli's and grotesque monsters in the same book, but if you fit that model than this is a must buy. On the flip side, if you don't like horror titles then you should look for your girl-on-girl action somewhere else. Especially since this volume was rather paltry on the girl-love side of things. I'm sure later volumes will have more girl-girl action, but I feel some buyers picking up this title purely for the fact that it belongs to Seven Seas 'Strawberry' line are going to be disappointed with this first volume.
I can't help but compare Tetragrammation Labyrinth to Seven Seas other title, Venus Versus Virus, since they both came out at the same time and have similar themes. Both titles are interesting and although their art styles are different, both stand on their on merits. Format wise I really appreciated Tetragrammation Labyrinth's larger format and detailed art. However, I enjoyed Venus Versus Virus's character design and story a little better. Both titles appear to have the potential for some great yuri/shoujo-ai situations, although Venus Versus Virus doesn't belong to the 'Strawberry' line.
I enjoyed the first volumes of both these series and recommend readers pick up the first two volumes of each before they decide to write one or both series off. Especially since Seven Seas produces solid books and has some of the better publisher presence in our forums. But, if readers can only choose between one of these two titles and they are only interested in the yuri aspect, then I have to recommend Tetragrammation Labyrinth. However, I think I like the Venus Versus Virus story a little better, and it may end up selling better in the long run because of the anime tie-in aspect.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Seven Seas Entertainment
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Tetragrammaton Labyrinth