Story/Art: Akaza Samamiya
Translation/Adaptation: Katherine Schilling
What They Say
Maria never knew he possessed the Power of Exorcism, which enables him to kill vampires. Now with Mary’s help, Maria digs into his past and unearths “Red Memories” that he had suppressed. Meanwhile, Mary begins to recover missing memories of his own. What truths await the exorcist and the vampire, and could their lives have intersected in the past?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
As the story has unfolded through the first chapters, Ichiro Maria has lived alone in a church under a magic barrier that protects him from the vampires who would feed on his sweet Maria blood. Ichiro has been left in the dark to his family history or why so many people have worked to keep him from finding out more about himself, his family, and vampires. In the first volume, we learned that the Sakuraba family had acted as Ichiro’s keepers, and student council president, Takumi, has been charged with keeping a close eye on him.
While Ichiro had become a priest, he faced attacks from vampires when he went out alone at night. His only protection has been a crucifix that transforms when his blood touches it. Somewhat cynical and opportunistic, he takes under his wing Bloody Mary, a redheaded vampire who can kill vampires but can’t kill himself. He agrees to protect Ichiro with the promise that since he has the Maria blood, he will kill Mary when the vampire threat expires.
Picking up from the last volume, Mary has been searching through the library for information that might have been hidden from Ichiro. Mary knows most of the books are useless, but he finds the journal of Ichiro’s father.
Takumi has been led to the Sakuraba basement where he meets Yzak Rosario Di Maria, the grandfather of Ichiro who proclaims his role as the leader of the Sakuraba family for several generations. When Yzak learns that Mary has red hair, he orders Takumi to bring him to the basement. Takumi attempts to pick up an exhausted Mary who waits outside Hydra’s bar after killing vampires who attacked Ichiro. When Takumi sees Mary weak, he allows the vampire to feed on his own blood. Ichiro interrupts and tells Takumi, “How dare touch what doesn’t belong to you.” Takumi leaves and Mary explains that Takumi had promised to kill him if he had left with Takumi. Ichiro and Mary go to the Sakuraba mansion and sneak inside. Ichiro finds pictures of himself as a child that he cannot explain, and Mary is captured. Both Ichiro and Mary have to confront the death of Ichiro’s father.
Not many manga have been produced that can consistently move forward while maintaining a good pace and build suspense. In the first chapter, we learn a secret that had been foreshadowed in the previous volume, but even at the end of this volume, no questions have been fully answered and the tension has thickened around Ichiro and Mary. This development is due to the mangaka’s storytelling ability and the shift in artwork from high tension, close proximity views of the characters interacting to the detailed settings that build the Gothic ambiance. Much of this volume has been devoted to Ichiro trying to comprehend what the world has hidden from him. As he discovers bits and pieces, it shakes the faith he has in his worldview. By the end of the volume, it appears he has lost any certainty, and the young priest now sees those who would be his allies only as antagonists seeking their own goals.
Akaza Samamiya creates a visceral world using shadow and texture to reshape his characters to be more demonic than human. Even as pretty as the boys are, the darkness seems to grow. Much of this has a counterbalance of chibi cutaways where Bloody Mary, in his cat ear hoodie, seems cute and childish. By placing these in scenes where the action has taken a dark, foreboding turn, the lightness of the moment amplifies the dread of what might happen and what might be learned.
For those who might miss the suicidal Mary from the first volume, a joint short with magazine Yokohama Walker and a short spoof of the characters follows the main chapters.
Bloody Mary continues to build a world where our protagonists should fear to tread and where readers will find an ever growing darkness. Artistically, the aesthetic realizes a Gothic style with the slow build of a Victorian mystery. While a quick read, these chapters develop both intellectual and emotional reasons to care about the characters and their story.
Recommended for readers who care about character and plot.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: March 1st, 2016