Dec 13, 2009
Colonelfancy (All reviews)
This is a manga I fell in love with over time. I really liked the anime and I'm sure that only fans of this manga can like the anime counterpart. As a big fan of this series, I can tell you that the two are completely different drinks in terms of the tone of the story and character development.

STORY: Reading the synopsis of the manga on the back of the first volume will probably not draw many people in. If anything, volume 1 is kind of flat, mainly introducing characters and a very loose explanation to what's really going on plotwise. Mostly the beginning chapters are about Hiro, the male lead, trying to cope life as a semi-immortal servant to a seemingly heartless woman who torments him. This only really lasts for the first volume and serves as a great harbringer for what follows in later volumes. It gets so much better in volume 2, introducing new siblings into the Royal War and other enemies and alliances. While it hasn't consistantly hit a linear storyline just yet, I really like the homages to a lot of classic horror movie monsters like werewolves, vampires, the headless horseman, and even the Lochness Monster.
ART: The character designs are very detailed, especially Hime and Sherwood's dresses. There's an incredible amount of shading and lighting into their outfits, which looks really good. This surpised me, because I really don't like the goth look, but Hime is pretty sexy. The rest of the characters look good, but don't really stand out as much as Hime. Maybe Riza, who has a terrific set of abs, and Reiri the vampire girl who dons a sailor fuku, so she offers some modest fan service. The monsters all look pretty damn good, as well as the violence, the dark atomsphere and shadowy backgrounds are a welcome contrast the otherwise bright and sometimes whimsical air of some of the anime episodes.
CHARACTER: I think I geeked out over Hime enough in my anime review, so I'll try to expend a little exposure to other aspect the manga offers. One of the major gripes I had with the anime was changing Hiro from a Blood Warrior to a Royal Guard with the Flame of Life (in retrospect, the "flame of life" makes a little sense, but that knowledge is key to the plot, so I can't spoil it). Hiro as a Blood Warrior intensifies the bond he has with Hime and this is evident as he grows little by little throughout the story to want to fight for her and protect her. Early on he's there to just get kicked around, but it's hinting that he can become more of a fighter. I'm not sure, but it's kept me intrigued so far.
Riza Wildman is my second favorite character in the story, even if she looks like a female clone of Kyo in Fruits Basket. She and Reiri play well off each other, as vampires and werewolves are bitter enemies. Sherwood is a fun little imp of a sister who I wish was in some of the eariler chapters more, but I enjoy her appearances nonetheless. Hime's other siblings are introduced in later volumes, but haven't yet had much time to shine, but it will happen eventually, we're only up to volume 7 here in the States.
ENJOYMENT: I think once you get past the first volume, it's pretty easy to enjoy this title. The theme early on is kind of "Fight this monster" by the chapter and keeping an eye on the weird array of weapons Hime uses in battle. Some of the dialouge is a little rocky and conversations seem awkward. I'm never sure if it's a bad translation or if it was written that way. An overuse of ellipses can be a little jarring, but I'm being a bit technical. The fights are pretty good and well drawn and anticipating more character exposition and interaction with the other siblings has kept me interested in this title.
OVERALL: After a clumsy first volume, this one does get more interesting, and it only gets better by the chapter. The art improves significantly, and the supernatural element of the story and characters are actually pretty unique and original, and Hime is just awesome on her own to keep me reading. All in all, not a super must-buy, but if you're looking for a manga title with a really strong female lead, or maybe a good supernatural shonen title, you should check it out.