After an absence of a little over two years, DrMaster continues its mystery/horror tale set in a school run by vampires!
Translated by:Kenji Komiya
Adapted by:Hajime Tomiyama
What They Say
The coffin that bound Kurou is destroyed and he comes out alive, contrary to the Nosferatu's expectations. Due to Kurou's resurrection, the ambitions of each Nosferatu teacher had been crushed, except for the principal, who lures Mao into yet another scheme. In the midst of all this, a group of students lead by the honor student Kikuchi become interested in the mastery of the academy and stay in school after sunset - only to be attacked and killed by zombie teachers!
Kurou's release from the coffin, the cradle of the future King of the Nosferatu, alive and well, refutes what the reader (and the Nosferatu) know or assume about Kurou. The privileged information that the reader has about how Kurou was freed only adds to the mystery, since Aikawa really wants the reader to make some type of connection for which she is not ready to supply more than allusion. She does this a lot.
And this type of revelation isn't restricted to Kurou. At the beginning of the series, the students of Yotsuji Academy seemed little more than a food supply for the vampire faculty. And although it seems a little fortuitous, the other major student characters now have a more meaningful part to play, many as Carriers who can stop the Evil Gene. The students, who acted in concert at the beginning of the series, now function more independently and not necessarily for the same purpose. Aikawa fills in some history and backstory for these students, and their students involvement in Yotsuji isn't as casual as first indicated. This lack of cohesion is mirrored in the faculty, who seem to be just as diverse in purpose and intent. In Dark Edge, one never is sure of allegiances, just as one is never sure of right or wrong, good or evil.
At the end of volume seven, the (un)fortunate Kikuchi, survivor of the attack by whatever-it-is-in-the-crypt, is held captive in the men's room by Yoshikuni and Nishiwaki, each of whom want to keep Kikuchi from going to the police for their own reasons. This is interrupted by the arrival of the principal, who intends to find out exactly what Kikuchi saw and has an unsavory way of doing so.
Dark Edge, originally published by ComicsOne, was initially released at a time when the first flood of manga titles kept the efforts of small publishers off the book stores shelves and off the radar of most readers. Adding to these problems, this title was the often poor printing and source quality for which a few reviewers couldn't recommend the title in spite good reviews for the story itself. While these were valid complaints, there were attempts to address the issues and subsequent volumes saw increasing improvement. DrMaster has continued to address the residual complaints of earlier releases and volume 7 looks and reads well. The print quality is very good and readers will be pleased.
While the main text had only one typographical error that I noticed, the back cover description was full of errors in punctuation, spelling and the facts. I understand that the back cover blurb is likely handled by a different department, but it really behooves a publisher in a still crowded manga market to put its best foot (and font!) forward. A reader will judge what's inside from what's outside and no one wants to wade though spelling, punctuation and grammar errors that they will assume are inside.
Volume 7 boasts a slightly different cover design with a spine that quite distinctive from previous volumes. In addition to the positive changes in print quality and readability, readers will notice slight changes in the spelling of character names, due undoubtedly to a change in translator and editor. This does not affect readability.
The ability of Dark Edge to keep the reader on unstable ground with respect to what is known and assumed is one of its attractions. Aikawa is very good at meting out information, which while it enriches what the reader knows, often shifts the assumptions that the reader has made about past information provided. Aikawa isn't unfair, but she makes it clear that she is in control, and she will leave you pondering. The excellent pacing of the narrative doesn't flag; this is a story that has humor, but it never overtakes the primary narrative
It's good to see the return of Dark Edge, one of DrMaster's better titles, spiffed up and given a resolicitation. It deserves another chance to find its audience. And since this title has had no releases for such a long time, DrMaster has packaged the first six volumes in a set that can be purchased at a much lower MSRP that the single volumes alone. This is a good opportunity to catch up on one of the better supernatural mystery/adventure stories in print. Fans of Ghost Hunt should find this title to their liking. Those who like their manga females a bit more on the fanservicey side won't be disappointed and the gore is graphic and satisfying without being overwhelming. Recommended.