Honey Blood Volumes 1 and 2

Honey Blood Volumes 1 and 2 by Miko Mitsuki

Two volume manga series are a bit tricky sometimes. They tend to be series that are canceled because they were not entirely successful, and sometimes have unfinished or rushed endings as a result. Sometimes there are two volume series that do end up telling a story satisfactorily, but most of the time when I read them, I either end up acknowledging that I just read a manga that was never going to work or I find myself wishing for just one more volume.

Hinata is a normal high school girl going about her daily life, slightly mystified about the vampire novels that are taking her school by storm. At the same time there have been cases of young girls who are the victims of mysterious attacks in her city. When she comes home one day after school, she bumps into a strange young man in traditional Japanese clothing. He’s accompanied by a clinging female editor. It turns out that he’s Junya Tokinaga, the writer of the novels that Hinata thinks of as ludicrous. Hinata has a tendency to burst out with whatever is on her mind and her first encounter with the famous author has her musing how the central plot point of a vampire giving up immortality to die with the person he loves is difficult to understand. Junya ends up acting bizarrely flirtatious around Hinata while she keeps making comments like “I can’t stand guys like you!”

The neighborhood attacks continue, and Junya saves Hinata from a man who almost assaults her when she is walking alone at night. She begins to be more fascinated with her next door neighbor, and he continues to demonstrate his interest in her. Hinata begins to suspect that Junya is a vampire, and it turns out that Junya’s novels describing a situation where a vampire who kisses a mortal is bound only to her until they both die is based on the conditions of his own vampirism. I thought the art in this series was attractive, but the storyline ended up shoving Hinata and Junya together a little too quickly to be believable. By the end of the first volume, they are almost a couple with Hinata pursuing Junya while he attempts to hold back details of his life from her. The continued vampire attacks make the reader a bit uneasy, as it is unclear if Junya is feeding on other women, or if in fact there are other vampires around.

I think the second volume shows the author throwing a bunch of ideas out to see if anything would stick. Hinata and Junya embark on their unconventional romance. The reader gets a bit of back story when it is revealed that Junya’s long lost love was one of Hinata’s ancestors. Hinata and Junya’s overly solicitous editor get into a conflict of personalities. A rival vampire named Setsuna shows up to complicate the situation further. I liked the romance better in the second volume when Hinata and Junya were an established couple. I also enjoyed the blend of vampire angst and little moments of humor, like when Hinata picks out modern clothes for Junya only for him to promptly become a target for aggressive modeling scouts. As the second volume wrapped up, I found myself wishing that the author had a bit more time to develop the series before launching it in the first place. It seemed like it was starting to get a bit more interesting only to be cut short. If a longer series by Mitsuki gets licensed, I would be interested in reading it, because I’d be curious to see what she could do with more space to develop a series. As it is, I’d recommend Honey Blood for vampire manga collections, or for people who don’t mind reading short manga with abrupt endings.

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign Vol 3

Seraph of the End Volume 3 by Takaya Kagami, Yamato Yamamoto, and Daisuke Furuya

One of the reasons why I like this shonen vampire dystopian series so much is that each volume propels the hero forward to a different stage of development and a different setting. In the third volume, brash yet unexpectedly capable hero Yuichiro has his demon possessed weapon, and now he’s about to become an official vampire hunter when he heads out with his squad to aid other soldiers in Shinjuku. Yuichiro’s new squad consists of the sarcastic and subversive Shinoa, earnest Yoichi, and his cranky new friend Shiho. The balance in the group is upset a bit with the arrival of Mitsuba, an abrasive girl who doesn’t understand why she’s been saddled with a rookie unit.

Yuichiro’s habit of rushing into battle causes tension with the group, since he doesn’t respect the standard tactical formations they are supposed to hold in order to make sure that the entire team is protected. They have a few skirmishes with vampires and survive more due to individual luck than coordinated effort. I have to say, I enjoy Shinoa’s leadership style because she makes pronouncements like “Let us be off on another fun-filled, vampire-slaughtering excursion!” While Yuichiro might be reckless, he’s also just as likely to risk himself to save one of his teammates as he is to charge ahead to fulfill his desire for revenge against vampires.

The reader gets a further glimpse into the life of Yuichiro’s adopted brother turned vampire Mikaela, and it seems like he will be meeting Yuichiro very soon. The combination of good world building, dynamic action scenes, and sarcastic quips makes me confident that Seraph of the End will continue to be very entertaining.

Sweet Rein 1-3 Giveaway

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I’m getting rid of some of my manga! I have a bunch listed on ebay right now, but I thought I would also do a giveaway as well. So appropriately for the start of the holiday season, I’m going to give away Sweet Rein Volumes 1-3. Just leave a comment on this post and I’ll select a random winner in a week.

Black Rose Alice Vol 2

Black Rose Alice Volume 2 by ´╗┐´╗┐Setona Mizushiro

If you had asked me where Black Rose Alice was headed after reading the first volume, I would not have replied “slice of life reverse harem story about vampires running a cafe” and yet that was what ended up happening in the second volume. I thought that after establishing Dimitri’s past and the troubled present lives of the teacher Azusa and her doomed relationship with her student Koya, I was expecting a bit more fallout after Azusa agreed to trade her soul to Dimitri in exchange for Koya’s life. There are a few hints of Azusa’s past feelings in the second volume, but the bulk of the story is spent establishing her new existence inhabiting Agnieszka’s body and what exactly happens when she wakes up as the object of affection for four vampires that all want to continue their species. Azusa takes on the name Alice in her new incarnation.

Dimitri has surrounded himself with vampire companions. There’s the twins Reiji and Kai, who are a bit young (for vampires) and naive. Leo, who is more sophisticated dedicates himself to waging a calculated campaign for Alice’s affections. In an interesting twist on the reverse harem scenario, Alice is going to be the only way for the young vampires to extend the life of their line, but it is up to her to make a choice about who she wants to end up with. Dimitri is determined to hold himself aloof from the new soul inhabiting Agnieeszka’s body, but he finds himself drawn to Alice despite himself.

While the first volume had more of a tumult of emotions, this second volume was much more even in tone and had some vampire-centric slice of life moments as Alice slowly gets used to her new identity. Alice has an imperious streak that comes out from her former habits of managing a classroom. There are still a few moments of the surreal body horror that made the first volume more distinctive, but not nearly as many random tarantulas spewing from a given vampire’s mouth. It isn’t often that I put down the second volume of manga feeling genuinely surprised about the direction and tone, but I finished up this volume feeling more intrigued than I did after reading the first. This series seems to be shaping up to be quite quirky and unique, which is just the type of thing that I’m currently most interested in reading.

Kiss of the Rose Princess, Vol. 1

Kiss of the Rose Princess Volume 1 by Aya Shouoto

I’m always happy to check out a new reverse harem manga. Kiss of the Rose Princess seems a little bit on the wacky and comedic side like Ouran High School Host Club, except it has random paranormal elements, is less ridiculous, and does not feature twins. So actually, not very like Ouran at all. The heroine of the story is Anise Yamamoto, a girl who is cursed with wearing the same rose necklace to school every day in flagrant violation of the dress code, because her father told her that she would be cursed if she ever took the necklace off.

Of course, only a few pages into the manga, Anise’s necklace falls off and she soon finds herself assigned mystical knights who she can summon to do her bidding by kissing cards imprinted with different colored roses. By day they are Kaede the slightly cranky yet typically handsome shoujo hero, Tenjo the secretly freaky student council president, the gothically morose Mutsuki, and the tiny but cute Asagi. Random events at school cause Anise to need help, and as she mystically summons her knights to her side she begins to learn a bit more about their personalities. There are plenty of amusing scenes in Kiss of the Rose Princess, even though it doesn’t approach the manic humor of a series like Ouran High School Host Club or Oresama Teacher.

The art is attractive, but fairly conventional. It doesn’t have much of a distinct style to it, and I tend to enjoy reading manga a bit more if the artist has some recognizable unique takes on character design, backgrounds, or paneling. I found myself picking up and putting down this volume a bit, which might have been a function of me being crazy busy recently, but the story didn’t really capture all of my attention. That being said, Kiss of the Rose Princess was enjoyable to read, as a good example of super light and fluffy manga. I’m hoping that the humor and the relationships between the characters develops a bit more in the second volume.