Charley, a cyborg vampire who does the Vatican's dirty work, is the thrall of the local vampire playboy Johnny Rayflo. As the two fight crime—and each other—hilarity, violence and sacrilege ensue! But can Charley resist his own desperate cravings for blood? Find out as the devilish duo go up aginst a childlike vampire princess, a mysterious branch of the Unitarian Church...and one another.
Vassalord. had four volumes published in English by Tokyopop from July 29, 2008 to November 30, 2010. It has also been published in its entirety in German by Tokyopop Gmbh, Italian by GP Publishing and Polish by Studio JG.
If you were to ask me what i just read, i'm no sure how i'd put it
i needed something different from what i normally read, so i found this obscure random thing, and started reading, thinking, 'this seems dubious, dark and possibly smutty', and i was fine with the prospect of some emotional smutty vampire s&m garbage with some supernatural bs, you know?
it's not what i got.
it was so classical a story about vampires, some biblical undertones, vampire hunters, the church, amoral science, creepy kids, but it was executed with a mixture of maturity and childishness. the main characters were mature people, as though they
really had lived for a couple hundred years and then settled down like you'd expect them to. there were some mature darker topics and scenes, all handled without angst. and the main characters could be immature and human and the tone of the manga was spotted through with fun, and wholesomeness thorough
it was a fun ride. as i couldn't really follow the plot, i can say i loved the extensive blushing, and how the gay was explicitly understated, because they were so adorable and obviously fond of each other that you dont need them to even kiss for the relationship to be fulfilling to read. it definitely hit the gay spot in my heart with 100% wholesome served with a sidedish of some bloodsucking s&m vampire garbage, great fun
A flamboyant vampire and an uptight cyborg vampire hunter (who was also a vampire) went on a quest to uncover the mystery behind "Vassalord". The story came with bishonens, European Gothic vibe, lots of blood sucking and tons of steaming-hot fanservice (not that I am complaining lol).
The story is intriguing and most likely will keep you flipping the pages. The blend of religion, vampire folklore, crime/mystery and sexual ventures (yes, you read it right) works out smoothly enough. However, a score of 7 is mainly due to the rushed flow and all the missing "how and why did they do that" details. I
personally think that Vassalord could do with 2 or 3 more volumes to work out all the necessary elements and reach its full potential.
To me, this is the most commendable aspect of Vassalord. The art is really gorgeous, but I suppose fighting scenes could be improved. The European-ish backgrounds are impressive and the character design, especially for Charley and Rayflo, is worthy of praise.
Undoubtedly the biggest letdown of the series, characters in Vassalord need a lot more work. Even for the 2 main protagonists, the backstories are vague and lots of questions are left unanswered. Some huge concerns of mine are, for example, how exactly did Rayflo and Charley establish their co-dependent relationship? What was the misunderstanding between him and Rayflo that kept them emotionally apart for hundreds of years? What was 86's motivation? (I understand that the answers could be inferred - but still, a bit more elaboration would do wonders). The flashbacks are totally lacking and do not help much in telling a coherent story of their past. Most of the side characters are such a disappointment. As a reader, I am confused about where they suddenly jump out from or why they fight for/against the protagonists; it feels like Chrono-sensei forgets what it means by "a proper introduction". It also seems that she was forced to condense the story into mere 7 volumes, therefore the lack of characterisation.
With all that said, I am glad that I chanced upon Vassalord. I just wish it could have been a bit longer and a tad more elaborate in its flow. For all its weaknesses, Vassalord still is an emotional, passionate story with amazing art that many romance / shounen-ai / vampire fans out there would love.
Do you want to see two increasingly attractive vampires flirt/fight/make-out (usually in that order) as plot allegedly happens in the background? Then have I got THE manga for YOU!
The story gets much better as it goes along (even though it still makes almost no sense unless you squint and editorialize the frick out of it and then eight chapters later realize what the point of it all was), and thankfully the series is short so that improvement is quick. The art also improves rapidly, to the point where Rayflo and Charles end the series as walking Greek statues rather than sort of generic yaoi
figures. Problematic elements - like Rayfaelle's and Cheryl's relationship - are thankfully sidelined by and large, and the weird sexy maids' appearances are thankfully limited and even... used in interesting character development ways?
For all that basically nothing you learn in the first arc of this series has anything to do with the rest of the story and is presented in a truly confusing mess of plot and even highly contradictory to later story, it's oddly compelling. Okay Rayflo is just really attractive and him dancing around a purported tsundere for a relatively short manga jaunt was compelling, with some amount of making out but not making out. And when that's not enough for you, the potential for a pseudo soul redemption arc for Charles that you never actually get keeps you keeping back. Do you not understand where I'm going with this? Good! You've just experienced what it's like to read the first arc in this manga!
The rules in the worldbuilding for this manga make very little sense. At its base, some demon decided to I guess mock some version of the Bible by creating his own Adam and Eve, but as vampires. And they are different than other vampires because they are... older? Are they the first vampires? Mayyyybe...? Also the demon can't manifest on Earth so he made a copy of himself to stalk and repeatedly assault his not-Adam. But deep down he secretly cares about his babies so... he made a weaker baby for them to... start this race of super-vampires. Somehow. Also, the only vampire who isn't not-Adam and not-Eve is Charles and two vampires who get killed almost immediately after their introduction so... are Adam and Eve the strongest, or are they just like the only ones in existence? (it's very unclear whether or not Cheryl is a vampire or whether she will be one day) All the other 'vampires' are created by human science.
Charles is a cyborg. It's made clear only by the end of the story why he is a cyborg. Where did this technology come from? Are cyborgs common (doesn't seem so; and the story seems to take place in 'modern' day, not the future)? Is this a secret church science thing with highly advanced technology they keep secret in order to hunt vampires or something? Why doesn't the church use this to enhance other vampire hunters? Where ARE the other vampire hunters, and why aren't they going after Rayflo, Charles, and Rayfaelle? What is that not-ponytail cord he has on the back of his head for? If he has replacement vocal cords, why does he look like his whole jaw was replaced? If Charles and Rayflo both have wings, why do they not use them, and why do they need wings if particularly Rayflo can just turn into a swarm of bats?
Also, for all that Charles is purportedly a vampire hunter, he kills an entire zero vampires in the entire series (other than one by accident via distraction). Sure, you could make the argument that his work on Vassalord is to stop more vampire-like problems from happening, but the 'he's a badass vampire hunter' line kind of falls flat when the actual vampire hunting isn't what happens for most of the series (but hey, he depowers a demon clone! So... that's... well...). Also, Charles' abilities flip flop from being good at what he does to being pretty incompetent. In the opening of the story, he's shown to be quite powerful from a fighting perspective - but pretty much everything they come across is stronger than him. He's a Computer Dude cause Cyborg, so he's allegedly smart, but is defeated by a password not working. He's got superhuman healing abilities. He's a literal Cyborg. He literally falls from a plane in the air and walks away with a just a broken arm, while purportedly largely protecting two other people. He masterminds a Mission Impossible scenario to break Rayflo out of prison. But for whatever reason we're told that he would have had trouble breaking out of a human-filled gang-run area. Because...?
Also, why is Charles mostly immune to sunlight? This is NEVER explained. Sure, he's supposedly one of those rare ones, but given that we meet a grand total of four (and potentially five) 'real' vampires, including Charles, 'rare' doesn't mean what we think it means. A 1/4 or 1/5 chance is not 'rare'. We're never shown anything special about Charles to make this happen, nor is it apparently linked to his cybernetics. Since he's one of only two canonic second-gen vampires we meet, this is also unhelpful. He's Just That Speshul. Literally, this ability on its own is not a problem. But because of its lack of explanation, it just encourages this theme of "the rules don't matter and vampires get more powers because I said so." If it doesn't matter who has what powers, why should I care when new powers are introduced? Why do stakes - like story stakes, not stabby stakes - matter? Why do fights matter?
It's also never clear if real vampires are dead or not. I think they're supposed to be dead (because the primary benefit of the super-vampires introduced later is that they're alive). If they're dead, why does their blood revitalize other vampires? Why do vampires need to drink the blood of humans? I mean it never happens in the story anyway except like... once, supposedly, but if they're self-sustaining, why do they need humans? Admittedly Reyflo at least once has to drink some back-up blood to recover from one of Charles' feasts, so it's implied that humans have to come into the equation somehow, but it's very, very vague. Again, the rules of this universe are just nonsense at the best of times. And there's nothing truly wrong with these ideas themselves - that vampires gain powers from drinking the blood of other vampires. Other franchises do this. It's the way this story does it that's the issue.
I'm not even getting into Wayne's magic forensic capabilities or potential time-traveling prowess or how it's sort of implied that his agelessness is his only superpower for some reason but never canonically declared to actually be an ability because the pages for it are so vague. He wants to do a science thing? Well guess what, he can do a science thing because the story requires him to do the science thing. Him having vaguely amazing Science powers wouldn't be a problem if the story explained that this was his ability. He could just be magically really damn smart, or he's spent his immortality amassing scientific knowledge. But the story dances around it by just pulling out his abilities as the story requires. Give Charles his human arms and ears and vocal cords back? Sure! Create vampire-drugs? Sure! Fix the oldest vampire sort of? Sure! Genetic modification? Sure! Holodeck? Sure! (I'm not even kidding that this is a minor plot thread that's never explained for no reason but just dropped on us and then the characters literally walk away from it).
The primary relationship between RayfloxCharles is confusing at best and nonsensical at worst. It crosses a bunch of tropes as the story requires with a payoff that doesn't make sense from the viewpoint of the beginning of the story unless you take it from the getgo that Charles is just an idiot. At first it seems like Charles is a vampire against his will with a desire to murder his creator, but an inability to do so because killing Rayflo is nigh impossible, Charles has a modicum of self-preservation and oddly aligned but inefficient morality, which creates a love/hate relationship between the pair. But actually Charles has been in love with Rayflo since they first met. But also it was a sort of Father/son relationship so... eesh. Also Charles thinks of Rayflo as the Christian God and/or Jesus? But no, really, Charles is just a tsundere with really bad communication skills, and really, Rayflo is apparently really bad at communication, too. But no, Charles just wants to strangle Rayflo for groping him too much.
In short, it's just a really bad attempt to write a relationship where one party is a tsundere and the other is a wannabe playboy. Like at a glance it falls into a lot of typical yaoi primary romances, but it just bungles it so much with its kitchen sink formuale to developing the plot and character that it's just a mess of a thing.
The good news is that the last 1.5 chapters are pretty good rewards for getting through this whole mess of a story. I mean the characters are still doing nonsensical things, but hey, there's good humor and good payoff for the primary character relationship so and the art is pretty good (by which I mean DAMN there's some well-sculpted man-muscle in that bit of story). So... yay?
If you want some supernatural hijinks (ish) with attractive dudes sort of making out with each other every couple pages who also get progressively hotter closer to the end of the series, this is your cup of tea. If not, "Banana Fish" does a better mafia-centered shounen-ai story (and the anime has great art), that actually makes sense. "Doukyusei" is a cute shounen-ai story. "World's Greatest First Love" has a better overall plot with better humor (even if the art is terrible). "Natsume Yuujincho" is a far superior supernatural story. If you want good sword fighting, watch "Sword of the Stranger". If you want fun mixed-weapons combat, read/watch "Fullmetal Alchemist", or watch "Darker Than Black" or "Casshern Sins".
I took a leap of faith on this one and I'm glad I did. I'm not one for Shouen Ai but it seems to be the only way to get a good blood drinking scene so it's something I can deal with.
I'm not 100% on just what the plot is but I'm enjoying finding it out. Normally with manga it easy to tell a couple chapters in what the whole thing will be about and even guess the ending. So it's nice I can't do that with this one. I only have one problem with it and that is that the chapters seem to jump
around randomly; there's little connection from one chapter to the next so following gets tricky from time to time.
The artwork is incredible, I love how there is detail but it's not over kill as it is with some mangas. It isn't so simplified though that the manga begins to feel like a child's manga but it isn't so detailed that it takes away from the story. The artist managed to actually find a happy medium and a style that suited the genre of the manga.
The characters are well thought out but Johnny is slightly annoying because he is somewhat immature. I do get tired of there always being one serious character and one immature character in every manga I have ever read and for some reason, they're either very close (as in friends) or lovers. In real life, someone with Chris's personality would never be able to tolerate someone like Rayflo.
As I've mentioned, I'm not a fan of guyxguy pairings. Nothing against it but I just don't like it. That being said, I am still enjoying Vassalord because of that bloody element you can't seem to get with hetro pairings in vampire manga. Hetro vampire manga doesn't have many blood drinking bits and what little it does have is often boring. So I'm willing to ignore the homo pairing to get great blood drinking scenes and gore.
Anyone who isn't a fan of Shouen Ai but likes actual vampires, not sparkling pansies or gun toting nuts, will enjoy Vassalord. The vampires have the sexuality that they're supposed to have without being whiny little bitches or complete space cases. They aren't good but they aren't evil either. Vassalord vampires are like humans in that sense. They can choose whether to live anonymously with humans or go on killing sprees. Either way there is no "I want to be human" or "I do this because I'm a vampire" type vampires in this manga. Even Chris doesn't seem to regret his decision.
I recommend this to anyone who wants actual vampires with good blood drinking scenes but not the sheer amount of gore that comes with Hellsing or the overwhelming drama that comes with Vampire Knight (both are still good mangas).