Naked loli vampire. If said phrase perks the ears, Nozomu Tamaki’s deliciously drawn tale of a modern-day vampire princess and her loyal werewolf bodyguard could well slake your thirst for some wanton horror escapades.
Translated by:Kenji Komiya
Adapted by:Katherine Bell, Adam Arnold
What They Say
The most original vampire story in centuries!
After millennia in hiding, Mina Tepes, the princess of the ancient covenant and ruler of all vampires, wants change. Using the vast wealth of the Tepes line, she has paid off the entire gross national debt of Japan and in so doing, gained the authority to create a "special district" off the coast of Japan that is to become the future haven for vampires from all over the world!
Now, on the eve of the landmark press conference announcing the existence of vampires to the world, terrorists and rival factions are plotting to assassinate Mina Tepes.
Dance in the Vampire Bund is an ongoing manga series that features stunning artwork and an enthrallingly original super-natural narrative.
Improving upon a manga’s original presentation is a rarity for domestic releases, but in this instance Seven Seas has produced a decidedly more attractive cover for their edition of Dance in the Vampire Bund Volume #1. Though featuring the same front and back illustrations as its progenitor, the publisher wisely chose to discard a sea of words that textured the majority of the Japanese counterpart. The end result is cleaner and delivers significantly more impact by allowing Nozomu Tamaki’s seductive artwork to completely dominate the landscape.
The volume, otherwise, feels solid and uses adequate paper stock. Pages are allotted a good-sized margin leading into the binding, an uncommon nicety which prevents artwork from getting eaten by the book’s spine; unfortunately, this larger margin seems to have left the opposite side of each page with too close a shave, one that occasionally crops-off portions of the visuals. In truth, these cuts are only noticeable due to instances of word balloons clearly having been trimmed, particularly in one case where a bit of dialogue is lost.
It should come as little surprise creator Nozomu Tamaki is well established in the field of adult comics. His females are endowed with lusciously idealized physics, always displaying just the right amount of tantalizingly rounded flesh needed to stir one’s desires, saying nothing of when they’re completely naked. Thankfully, there’s little subtly to these amorous depictions, so any fears of a never ending tease can immediately be put aside. Breasts and thighs may rule the day, but male characters are not wanting for attention, appearing well rendered if conventionally designed. Overall, the characters—coming across as very solid and three-dimensional—are by far the book’s strongest visual element, appropriately garnering ample real estate on each page.
Where the cracks in Tamaki’s skills begin to show are in his inconsistent backgrounds and bland layouts. While it doesn’t hinder the story, the panel work is rigid. Most pages are comprised of judiciously stitched together boxes lacking organic flow, almost as if their arrangement was a minor concern. This sterile composition is matched by a world continually vacillating between comfortably detailed and illustratively impoverished. Simple shaded backdrops are forgivable, especially when used to give greater impact to a scene, but too often objects and buildings are drawn as near featureless hunks of basic geometric shapes, like some cheap plastic toys. These environs are lackluster in their own right but stand in even starker contrast to Tamaki’s fluid, highly toned characters.
Seven Seas has done a competent job with their edition, producing a manga that reads well and is without any glaring grammatical issues. Honorifics are kept even if their inclusion is likely unneeded for this story; I do, however, find it odd the book is bereft of an appendix covering their meaning and usage, since its absence could prose problems for some readers.
Japanese sounds effects are retained, yet smaller—though similarly styled—English equivalents are also incorporated into their appearance. I’m not overly fond of this unusual approach. My own preference runs towards tiny, unobtrusive translations, but if the decision is made to implement English effects, I’d rather see them completely replace the Japanese, not sloppily placed near the original drawings becoming a distracting companion.
Make no mistake, vampires are real. In the inky twilight they reign, feeding on the blood of humans to sustain their immortality. But what if the veil of secrecy shrouding their harrowing existence was suddenly lifted, and by one of their own?
Mina Tepes, wealthy-beyond-reason heir to an illustrious lineage and ruler of all vampires, has decided her kind will no longer live in the shadows. Her childlike appearance belays ages spent amassing an unfathomable fortune and political influence, which she’s used to construct a large private island off the coast of modern-day Japan. Although Mina’s full intentions may remain a mystery, she’s issued an open invitation to all the world’s blood suckers with the hopes of creating a personal vampire kingdom in her new water-bound home.
Of course, not everyone shares Mina’s ideals for a vampire utopia that can peacefully coexist alongside its human brethren. Helping to protect the diminutive Princess from black-op assaults, bomb threats, and other bodily harm is Akira Kaburagi—an average high school boy from the outside, Akira is in truth a werewolf, who from birth was destined to become Mina’s bodyguard.
Now with an uncertain future stretching before him and enemies gathering all around, Akira will need to muster his power to serve the royal nosferatu, until she brings about her crimson empire.
Bund. Try saying it. The word bounds from the mouth in a manner that makes it almost difficult not to pronounce in a silly, exaggerated fashion. And though the Germanic utterance can have several meanings, generally used in describing some physical or abstract connection or collective, its ticklish sensation when vocalized relates a good impression of the manga’s atmosphere.
Dance in the Vampire Bund is frivolously, unpretentious fun, perfectly crafted to entice certain spectrums of manga fandom: the horror-set gets vampires, werewolves and the promise of ghastly delights, while Mina’s one of the juiciest Lolita characters you’ll likely find in any domestically available title; there’s action, gore, hints of romance, and abundant erotic imagery—and yes, a good number of bare breasts, as well.
Certainly, this bund isn’t for everyone. It should be understood the title is in all respects inherently superficial and not something to be undertaken for deep insights or gripping plotlines. The manga is, of course, geared towards a male audience looking for cheap thrills carried forward on the back of pervy pictures. Mina may well be a strong character, but there’s no sense deluding oneself when it’s clear even the book’s toughest females are predominantly prized for their shapely figures.
All the same, in a time when shelves are drowning in titles aimed at younger readers and teenage girls, it’s nice to see a manga that doesn’t try to justify bawdy content, merely presenting itself in the hopes the right audience will stumble upon the combination of tits, fangs, and blood. Keep in mind, this book is in no way adult fare (by which I mean pornographic), but rather fits into the tiny, relatively unexploited niche between juvenile fancy and full-on hardcore. So while not the most intriguing and provocative of offerings, Dance in the Vampire Bund still presents a nice, naughty ride that depending on taste could certainly deserve at least a glance.