Wanderer, the Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: F+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: Studio Ironcat
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 194
  • ISBN: 1-929090-95-1
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Wanderer, the Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 14, 2004
Release Date: March 01, 2004

Wanderer, the Vol.#01
© Studio Ironcat

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kakinouchi Narumi
Translated by:Ted Wax
Adapted by:

What They Say
Meet Sei Kodo, a sixteen year old music student who is attending the Japanese branch of a prestigious European Performing Arts Academy. He is also a Vampire who is on the quest to locate the one who awakened him - his mistress and lover, The Vampire Yui!
Kodo's travels take him to Europe to search out a mysterious phantom who may or may not be a vampire, to the region of Kansai, Japan where a young man battling depression may hold a clue to Yui's whereabouts, and to his own music school where he encounters a prodigy named Marie who has a few dark secrets of his own...

The Review
A story of an Osakan looking for love(?) in all the wrong places. Hmmm... sounds familiar.

Ironcat uses Kakinouchi's original cover here with Sei in front of a large full moon taking up most of the image. This is done on a matted finish that unfortunately started to wear-off within the first few hours after I started reading.

Logo Check!! (©2003 Megs)... as the original logo was in English Ironcat took advantage of the situation and simply kept it intact and added a subtitle underneath the series title.

Inside Ironcat's printers have made one of the biggest blunders I have seen in ages. Pages are right to left but have been printed as if they were in left-to-right. So while the cover is on the right, inside the front cover is the last page. Inside the back cover is the first page but it has not been flipped! So readers have to read each page right-to-left but the page order is left-to-right. Ironcat has taken some measures to collect copies that are like this, but as you can see not all of them were recalled before the public got their hands on them.
The printing is a shade dark but it still looks good. I also like that Ironcat made the effort to keep kanji/kana on the chapter headers for this series, very few studios do this and I for one really appreciate it.

Kakinouchi's designs are pretty stylish but I tend to get characters confused quite often. Her lines are light and almost whispy but with her unique use of tone for detail shading she really does not need to lean to much on her inking. Her backgrounds can look pretty impressive but she does not use them often, relying instead on her layout to present a tone and mood for her story. I love how she uses light and darkness in some of her panels to show state of mind for her characters as it really works with the eerie slightly angsty feel of this title.

I will not go into the orientation again as it still confuses me. The problem has been fixed in more recent reprints but for those of us that got this title when it initially was released, I must say this is one issue I hope does not get repeated. SFX are all translated with small subs. I really like this a lot. The subs are small enough that they never are much of a distraction and never compromise Kakinouchi's art.

The text is okay. With a good amount of the characters being from the Kansai area Ironcat decided to give the dialogue a "Texas drawl." They note their reasoning behind this at the start of the first chapter. I did not mind it too much but I could not help but wonder if some of the text was actual dialogue or added "drawl." There are a couple of spelling errors but it should not distract much from the story.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kodo Sei is searching for someone. His sanity depends on finding her.

You see, Sei has this unique relationship with a young looking lady named Yui. This Yui did something to him that possibly no one else could and ever since then Sei has considered Yui his friend, his lover and his mistress. Yui is a vampire and she brought Sei back from his "slumber" with her own blood. Some time has passed since and now Sei is desperately searching for Yui's cold lips.

So far the search has not been an easy one for Sei. Everywhere he goes he runs into people who may have seen Yui. She does not have any unique features and her name is quite common but it is her actions and her personality that will clue Sei in to her whereabouts. So if he has to go to high school to mingle with geeks and bullies he will. Fitting in will not be a problem, but getting some concrete info will. In a place like that there really are only two ways to do research of this nature: getting into trouble or looking for those looking for trouble. Sei would rather not get into as he tends to use his supernatural abilities often when riled up, but if trouble comes a calling he does not mind some Kansai fisticuffs. If it helps find Yui he'll do almost anything.

Fighting can only take you so far. As Sei moves on he eventually tries to use his nicer personal skills to get some clues. At the music school he attends, he finds a few students that can relate to his unique ways of expression and personal philosophy. Finding people with exceptional talent and misunderstood personalities is nothing new here but some people may be too weird for a place like this. Sei would love to know more about people like that. He and Yui are out of the ordinary and if Yui was able to meet Sei she could have easily met others as well. The school prodigy, Marie, definitely fits the bill. He has not grown for a few years now. He is extremely talented and does not socialize very much with the other students that live on campus. Marie for some strange reason seems to be attracted to Sei which makes him even more suspicious. But will Marie bring answers or more questions?!

Europe has its own mysteries. Vampires are said to come from eastern Europe and have made legends across the continent. Finding some clues here might not be that tough; staying there might. Sei's charm and supernatural ability has fooled everyone before but now his real talent has to save him. If he does not make the grade there is no way he will be able to stick around in France for long.

Like a few other Kakinouchi titles the Wanderer ties in characters from her Vampire Yui and gives them a new angle. Sei on the surface appears to be just like any other Osakan - easy going, tough and brash. But they way he goes about his search takes all of that and adds a sense of mystery. In some ways his is like a vampire detective on the hunt for the person he longs for. While I may not like how Kakinouchi tends to leave me wanting more as she often leaves her episodes with open endings. Even so her pacing is good and her art is perfect for this genre, making the Wanderer a fun read with a lot of potential.

For those looking for a mystery with some mild horror this title might be for you. Sei's journeys are full of action, drama and some old fashion Kansai humor. It's a good mix that nicely expands on what is already a well known franchise.
For those looking for more horror with some good dramatic writing you might want to pass. As much as I found myself enjoying each of Sei's stories I always felt that something was missing. Either the chapter wrapped up with a cheesy ending or I was completely clueless to what happened and how the story just stopped there. There is nothing wrong with open-endings, but they can make for tough transitions into new chapters.

As a Kakinouchi fan, I found this title to be quite average. Some of the problems she had with the start of some her other titles (including Miyu) are present here, as there are issues with plot development and continuity. Taken as stand alone episodes Sei's stories seem to work a lot better as these long chapters have a bit of everything in them to keep readers interested for more. You know he is searching for Yui; you know he will try to fit in to his new environments with amusing results; you know he will end up running into something supernatural at the end that will usually leave him with more questions than he had at the start of his journey. I like the concept, but with a pair of volumes remaining I wish the storytelling was a little tighter. Following Sei as he wanderers amongst us is a treat, but it can be so much better.


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