Crimson Spell Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Kitty Media
  • MSRP: 11.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1598831046
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Crimson Spell

Crimson Spell Vol. #01

By Julie Rosato     December 10, 2007
Release Date: July 31, 2007

Crimson Spell Vol.#01
© Kitty Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ayano Yamane
Translated by:N/A
Adapted by:N/A

What They Say
The curse of the magical crimson sword has turned Prince Bald into a monster... To break the spell, he sets out on a journey with the sexy and gorgeous magician, Havi. Bald has no idea that when he turns into a beast at night, Havi uses his unique talents to pacify his beastly appetite... The luscious journey of Bald and Havi begins.

The Review
Kitty Media scores big with a fan-favorite fantasy. Did I mention it's pretty?

The original cover art of Havi and Vald is used here and it's a great example of how beautiful Yamane's art can get. Though the two men do make a lovely pair, this isn't a cover that screams BL - it plays up the fantasy element instead, which I think was a good choice. Kitty's version of the logo could be a little more readable, though. The inside is as pretty as the outside; we're treated to a rare color plate, better paper and a printing job worlds above what we usually see from this publisher. It was reported that Yamane had quite a hand in the production and the result is quite clear. The price point is a little higher than other Kitty books, but if that's what it takes to get their books to look like this, then I'll have few complaints, thank you very much.

Ayano Yamane is a favorite artist of mine, and one who just gets everything right. Her artwork is always gorgeous, confident and consistent. Yamane draws some of the sexiest men in BL and though her characters reflect her distinct style, they do not suffer from looking too much alike. Backgrounds fluctuate with regards to amount of detail, but the fantasy setting definitely provides plenty of opportunities for supplemental art, not to mention costumes and critters. Linework is strong and neat with plenty of good contrasts in the inks and tones. The panel layout - one of Yamane's strong points - really helps set the pace throughout, especially when comparing the action sequences to the normal story progression or gentler moments.

Art reproduction looks great, but there is a cropping issue that results in the loss of art off both the bottom and right side of the page. It's not very noticeable as long as you're not comparing it to the original, but text is sometimes lost too, and I'd prefer to see Yamane's art in all its glory.

Overlay text is neat, clean and readable, which represents a marked improvement for this publisher. That said, the script does occasionally stumble with an awkward line and there are some typos. These days Kitty doesn't translate the sound effects at all, and I won't harp on that, but anything in a speech bubble should be translated. Even if it's a sound effect – if it's in a bubble it's meant to be "heard" – and so the grade for this category also takes a small docking for these omissions. In general, while there is room to improve, things do look good overall.

Note about the prince's name: In the first English printing, the prince's name is Bald. At the creator's request, his name was changed to Vald in subsequent printings of volume one and will remain so in all future editions.

Contents:(please note the following may contain spoilers)
So our story begins with the prince of a magical kingdom fighting off a demonic invasion and unlocking the seal on a cursed family relic in order to save his people, thus placing a curse on himself. Now suffering from a transformation affliction and too dangerous to stay among his kind, he must enlist the aid of a great wizard, who will only help him for the right price. Yes, that is quite a premise – and that all happens in the first few pages! Still, it's a great fantasy set up. (And like any good fantasy tale, the names in this book are nigh-unpronounceable. Fortunately, our heroes are fond of nicknames.)

So, Demon-Prince Vald meets the Wizard Havi, who agrees to help break the curse if Vald will help him retrieve a spirit animal deep in a forest shrine. Along the way of course Havi's unable to restrain his curiosity over Vald's beast form, and "siphoning of magical powers" ensues. As it turns out their quest wasn't so difficult and the pair is soon joined by a magical rabbit of sorts, named Rulca. They aren't, however, any closer to breaking Vald's curse so they're forced to head for the capital of magicians, Celeasdeile, from which Havi was driven out as a child. In this magical city Havi must face the demons of his past, while the truth behind Vald's curse suddenly transforms their journey – and their relationship - into something much larger.

Though he doesn't have much depth at first – it's kind of hard to fit much characterization in between nightly sex romps with his new pet demon - Havi's not just a pervy magician. He's hardened by the events of his past, but Vald's predicament helps him to open up and grow quite a bit by the end of the volume. In contrast, Vald sort of de-evolves as a character throughout the book - his unconscious demon side becomes more tied to the story and his human side grows increasingly more anguished. Still, they make a pretty good pair, even if one of them doesn't know just what kind of pair that is. Good thing their adventure is only just beginning.

When a manga-ka enjoys their subject matter, it shows through in the work. The Crimson Spell is a gem in the English BL market because it is not only a visual treat, but a good story as well. The first chapter rushes things a bit, introducing the premise and providing the excuse for lots of hot demonic loving, but the book quickly settles into stride never forgetting there's actually a plot mixed in with the pretty.

The characters become increasingly more interesting as their personalities begin to show and we start learning about their world, and the little bits of humor sprinkled in fit perfectly. It's all set up just right to hook you in by the end. The BL action is sexy and happens with relative frequency, but isn't especially drawn-out – a couple scenes happen so abruptly it's almost like Havi's nightly duty is an afterthought. Not entirely a bad thing in this case, as it leaves more room for story. If you've read any of Yamane's works before, you'll know she explores unconventional and non-con methods – glossing over the whole demon thing for a moment, this tale also includes magical bindings and a tentacle monster, the latter of which is surprisingly well done. All in all, pretty rockin' for a fantasy manga.

Kitty Media really stepped up to bring us this title and though there's still room for improvement, this fan is mighty happy. There is nothing better than seeing a title you love get the chance to show off its stuff. To anyone looking for quality, this is simply not a book to be missed.


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