Story/Art: Akaza Samamiya
Translation/Adaptation: Katherine Schilling
What They Say
“Bloody” Mary is not your typical vampire. He can withstand sunlight, holds a reflection in mirrors, refuses to drink blood—and wants 17-year-old student and priest Maria to kill him. But to Mary’s dismay, Maria doesn’t know how to kill vampires. Desperate to die, Mary agrees to become Maria’s bodyguard until Maria can find a way to kill him at last.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Vampires may be eternal, but the attempts to tell a new story hinge on the world and the characters involved. This is the story of a suicidal vampire 400 years old but with the body and personality of a teen. He seems to have lost his memory but has sought out the exorcist who he believes can end his life.
Chapter one opens with Ichiro Rosario Di Maria cornered by some delinquent type vampires who tell him they have learned he can’t use the exorcist powers that pass through the Maria bloodline. Just when he seems fated to die, another character intercedes. The vampires recognize the savior as “Bloody,” and he kicks vampire butt to save Maria.
When Maria wakes and learns Bloody saved him, he wonders why the vampire can enter the church. As Bloody continues to ask Maria to kill him, Maria understands Bloody has unusual immunity to the things that kill or deter vampires. In one night, Maria loses the protection of fear that vampires had of him, and he gains a bodyguard, Bloody, who he promises to find a way to kill in return for protecting Maria from the vampires.
Maria treats Bloody with the bemusement of an adult to a child. His thoughts are often demeaning to Bloody, and his communication manipulates Bloody to follow his directions like a child. Bloody’s own 400-year-old death wish seems out of place with his faulty logic that keeps him under Maria’s control. Neither character acts with certainty, and this introduces a subtle anxiety in how they may continue to interact.
Introductory volumes also establish the world where the action will take place. Here, we find ourselves in Yokohama, Japan. Maria goes to a parochial school, where he does research in a secret library owned by the Sakuraba family. Takumi Sakuraba is the student council president who also has dominion over who can use the library. Outside of the sacred spaces, one will find the areas frequented by vampires. Here we meet Hydra, a girl who looks younger than her vampire age and who knows Maria has no exorcism defense. She knows Bloody, someone she considers a nuisance. Hydra hangs out at a bar and makes a journey to Maria’s church home where she attacks Bloody outside the protective barrier. She also calls Bloody, “Mary,” a name Maria has been using to Bloody’s irritation.
The vampires want to destroy Maria, but the Sakuraba family seems to have been protecting him from interacting with vampires, and now, Takumi has been charged with not allowing him to learn to use his exorcism power.
Shojo lovers will feel comfortable in, what appears now, to be a supernatural suspense manga. Readers who like the cover art will probably like most of the style used in the story. Faces, or just eyes, seem to be the way we judge both character motivations and interactions. The artist refuses to use gore for horror, leaving the majority of violence to the imagination of the reader. As tension mounts between Maria and Bloody, the art style erupts in moments of humorous caricatures of childish emotions, not quite chibi, but featuring the deformed facial expressions and sometimes physical profiles of the body. Bloody wears a hoodie that makes him look like a cat, so the running joke is that Bloody is Maria’s guard cat. Some may notice similarities to BL tropes, like Maria feeding Bloody by cutting his finger for Bloody to suck, but so far, that does not seem to be moving toward anything romantic or sexual. Still, when Maria offers to let Bloody drink from him anytime he needs it, is the reader supposed to take that as the practical means for recharging Bloody’s super strength or as an offer with sexual overtones? Maybe the suggestion of sexual tension adds to the psychological tensions of the characters’ odd power relationship within the reader’s imagination.
This first volume creates a world where the main characters seem to be in the crossfire of some conspiracy between the wealthy Sakuraba family and the vampires. I can only say that these chapters form a solid base for the future of the series. A fan of shojo adventure or vampire fantasy may want to try this out if she/he likes emotional stories, artwork with highly expressive faces and stylized settings, and prefers enough silly humor to keep melodrama at bay.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 1st, 2015