Darren Shan's an ordinary schoolboy, until he and his best friend Steve get tickets to the Cirque Du Freak, a bizarre freak show featuring such arcane performers. In the midst of the ghoulish excitement, true terror raises its head when Steve recognizes that one of the performers—Mr Crepsley—is in fact a vampire! That's when the hands of fate changes the lives of them forever!
for those who do not know, the darren shan manga adaption is derived from a series of english novels known as cirque du freak. the original author shares the name of the main character, while the manga art is done by takahiro arai.
the story starts off with two young boys, darren shan and his friend steve leonard. darren has an infatuation for spiders, while steve is obsessed with vampires. the two of them wind up going to a traveling circus known as the cirque du freak. within this circus is a vampire by the name of larten crepsley, whom steve recognizes. steve wants to
become a vampire, but is rejected due to his 'evil blood', foreshadowing his destiny. in the end, darren ends up becoming a vampire in order to save steve, but is forced to leave him and his family behind.
however, this is only the prologue to the story. i am leaving out some details to avoid giving too much away, as the story takes many unexpected turns. what you can expect from this point on, however, is darren's journey as mr. crepsley's assistant. there are also a handful of time skips, so you'll be able to see the characters as they age and mature.
now, getting into some nitty-gritty stuff
in essence, darren shan is a story about vampires, which can either be an automatic interest or turn-off, depending on who you are. however, i can assure you that this manga takes an interesting perspective when it comes to the supernatural.
for starters, vampires in this series are fairly docile, and only feed when they need too. however, there are some cliches, such as them being unable to withstand sunlight. the great part about this series, though, is that the existence of vampires is not the focus - you'll find yourself forgetting that the main character himself is no longer human, except for when he mentions it directly.
however, there is a subdivision of vampires known as the vampaneze. vampaneze are rogue vampires who prefer to kill humans they feed off of. although their customs may be similar to regular vampires, they are much more aggressive and hostile. their appearances are also very different, as they are most commonly described as having purple skin and black-red eyes.
along with a cast of vampires, there are also several 'freaks' that darren befriends at the circus. many of these characters play important reoccurring roles in the series.
character + art:
now, the art for this series is far from top-notch, and can be VERY wonky at the beginning, but this improves drastically over time. if the art style is not favorable to you, you'll have to sit through it for a few books - or perhaps the entire series. i personally liked the artwork from the beginning, and loved it towards the end.
in my opinion, the last 6 volumes have amazing artwork. expressions are on-point and dramatic, and the shading of panels adds a horror-esque feel. a lot of the mediocre anatomy and fighting sequences are heavily worked on, and you can see the effort the artist has put into the series.
the characters, although not being written by the artist himself, are also very well represented through the artwork. i absolutely loved the designs, as i thought they fit the personalities of each character perfectly. takahiro arai has successfully retold a story from his own perspective, making it much more interesting for those who prefer to visually experience a novel. the main characters have obvious flaws and realistic qualities. the cast overall is varied, from personalities to appearance. i found myself becoming attached to the characters for this very reason.
i'd recommend this series to anybody, as i have enjoyed it immensely. it breaks away from typical vampire and shounen stereotypes, and introduces a variety of characters in a refreshing art style. although the original novels appear to be aimed towards children/teens, the manga adaption adds much more emotion. the art progresses along with the story, and main character is constantly thrown into new environments, meeting new friends and enemies along the way.
i'd honestly love to see more people read this. its a shame that most people don't know about this manga - or the artist behind it. takahiro arai has also written and drawn his own manga known as arago, which is heavily influenced from his work on darren shan. both are great reads, and deserve more recognition.
"I don't like it, but my hands are tied. I just want you to know this: if I ever get the chance to betray you, I will. If the opportunity arises to pay you back, I'll take it. You'll never be able to trust me." ~ Darren Shan (the character)
Cirque du Freak, also known as Darren Shan, is a manga based off of a popular vampire novel from one of my favorite authors, Darren Shan (yes, he named the character in the book after himself). This isn't your normal vampire manga, however; it is a rollercoaster of twists and turns, and if you can get
past the somewhat awkward beginning, you will be treated to an amazing world.
Story (9): Since this is based off of a western novel, the pacing is actually a lot different from most manga. There are a LOT of time skips, but the author plays it out very well and tells us the most important and interesting parts. However, this also makes for a little bit of an inconsistent story. This is compensated by the plot twists and such the author presents to us.
As I mentioned before, the first volume is a little awkward. It doesn't reveal everything the story has to offer to the reader right on the spot, which is why the twists are so dramatic. However, some people would probably think that the story is just about a boy who likes spiders, which is where they would go horribly wrong.
Art (9): The art is very detailed in most scenes. Sometimes the mangaka leaves out some detail, but this is usually only on insignificant panels.
Character (10): There are SO many characters in Cirque du Freak, and not all of them make it to the end. There is an array of personalities and all of them are colorful, although some are more appreciated that others. The main character himself is not very unique, but in this era I don't see many people criticizing that considering the boring protagonists of popular shonens.
Enjoyment (10): I loved the crap out of this series. I loved the characters, I loved the time skips, I loved how the volumes are split into 4 trilogies, and most of all I love the dramatic ending. Overall, I recommend this to everyone.
Also, if you happen to like this series, check out Darren Shan's other collection of books, the Demonata series. It is a little similar (although a LOT more horror-focused) and also has many similar aspects that are present throughout Shan's writing.
The only thing I would say to anyone looking to get into this is that the books are 100 times better, and the manga should only be read once you have read the books imo.
I gave the story outstanding because after all, it is a masterpiece. Darren shan is an amazing writer and having read all the books myself (as well as the saga of larten crepsley), I can say that having this level of art gives a bit more context and value to the story.
This story is from the book "Cirque du Freaks by Darren Shan" and no the real author is not the actual character in the story.
For those who haven't read the saga of Darren Shan then this manga adaption will hook you in unless you already did, then I still recommend you to read it. The basic story line is that Darren was destine to become a vampire assistant, but it will change later on. I do say that if you read the saga(books) before reading the manga you find that the characters that the artist drawn is not exactly perfectly accurate but it does
draw out the true character of the character? o.0
Character: Darren is close to what i had in mind and his personality that i found out from the script. While Steve portrait EXACTLY what i had in mind: crazy psychopath but a true friend of Darren. I notice that Mr.Crepsley had hair...for those who what im talking about. All the supporting and side-main? characters do their best to support not only the true main character but also give a leg-up to the storyline.
I also recommend you to read the book after the series is over, or that you are one of those impatient one. Darren Shan(the author) also working on the New saga called "Demonata". This is my first review so go easy on me :D