gothic

Manga Review: Black Butler by Yana Toboso

I am so stoked to be able to bring you this review. I’ve been waiting for Black Butler to be translated into English for over a year.

A short distance from London, just beyond the fog-cloaked forest, there stands a well-kept manor house.

Kuroshitsuji, or Black Butler, is an awesome gothic tale about a butler who can do absolutely anything. The art in the manga is the best gothic craftsmanship I have ever seen. In fact, before the English translation came out, I had to talk myself out of buying the Japanese version several times because I loved the art so much. I just wanted to hold such beauty in my hands and study the details even, if I couldn’t read the darned thing!

I just finished the English translation version and I am not disappointed in the least. The story and characters live up to the awesome artwork. So, what’s it about?

The Black Butler, Sebastian, is the kind of man anyone could use around the house. He can clean, garden, make the most delicious sweets, and even rescue you from kidnappers. Most would say that his type of know-how is impossible in a mortal and they would be right. Sebastian's master Earl Phantomville, a twelve-year-old boy named Ceil who is obsessed with games. Being the head of the family that owns Funtom, Britain’s leading confection and toy making manufacturer, liking games is a must.

The other servants of the house are comical, but useless. After all, who needs maids, gardeners, and man servants when one has Sebastian the greatest butler of all time? These other servants make it difficult for Sebastian to do his job by constantly messing things up, destroying china sets, poisoning the garden, and eating the Earl’s desserts. The Black Butler always saves the day with his quick wit, speedy service, and ultimate all around wonderfulness.

My favorite scene is when Sebastian is riddled with bullets and then stands, his coattails all in tatters and looks at the bullets in his hand. Then he throws all the bullets back at the baddies, effectively sending them to their graves. After the fight, he picks up his master and calmly walks for the room while apologizing that dinner has not been prepared.

As I have said, this artist is awesome. I haven’t been this excited about a manga artist since Kaori Yuki’s Godchild. From ruffled cravats and tailored suits to ornamented chandeliers and elaborate tea servings, every detail is beautiful. Even the chibi portions of this manga are well done.

A fun detail is that each chapter, Sebastian makes a special dessert for Earl Phantomville. The dessert is shown up close with a banner stating things such as:

Today’s Dessert: Apricot and green tea mille-feuille.

This awesome book includes seven pages of author notes with translation notes outlining everything you’d like to know about what is described in the book, including what mille-feuille is.

The author is definitely into portraying authentic Victorian England settings and clothing, but I’ve never seen a manga artist pay this much attention to customs, history of the time, and even what people might have been talking about during dinner.

I’ll leave you with a quote from the author:

I like black… …It’s a color that can’t be violated by any other colors. It’s a color that simply keeps being itself. A color that sinks more somberly than any other... …It’s a passionate, gallant color. Anything is wonderful if it transcends things, rather than being halfway.

If you haven’t bought a manga yet, this is the one to start with. Few others are in it’s league. You can find out more about Black Butler at Amazon.com.

Manga Review: Red Angel by Makoto Tateno

Red Angel is a masterfully drawn manga with an awesome color cover that gives just a hint at the gothic art inside. Author and manga artist, Makoto Tateno, brings to life the story of Mika & Eru who are brother and sister vampires.

For those of you who might have read her other works Happy Boys or Yellow and didn't like them, I believe that Red Angel deserves a chance.  You see, Mika & Eru are not like other vampire brothers and sisters. They have one unique quality that sets them away from the bunch. They just happen to reside in the same body.

Reminiscent of the novel, The Need by Andrew Neiderman, the brother and sister pair have a problem... whatever one of them does, the other has to live with. In Red Angel, this has to do with them moving constantly to keep their secret. Their crimson wings often leave mortals in a state of awe. Whether they feed or not, they usually cause death somehow and flee the scene.

Artwork in this book is beautiful with a nice dark feel throughout and gothic vignettes portraying a couple enjoying a kiss as massive wings shelter them or a flight of crows bordered by intricate crosses and lace. Tateno has a way of portraying action in the still shot so convincingly that the reader can almost feel the wind whip around them as wings flap, causing feathers to float by.

Each chapter is a different town and the vampire pair is not always the focus. We get to meet a couple of "bat men" who turn into bats but are not vampires, and Anney, who is holy and able to suck energy from vamps. Mika meets another vampire and finds out the hidden truth behind who she is and where she fits into creation.

There is a four-page extra in the back by the author, explaining the characters, ideas, and how the book was first published. Categorized as a Yaoi, I disagree. Perhaps it is just stuck into that category because of the woman and man in the same body. I find that the story is very unlike many Yaoi and the difference between the brother and sister is so definite, the reader really believes they are two different people simply sharing the same mortal-like shell.

You can find out more about Red Angel at Amazon.com.

Manga Review: Rozen Maiden by Peach-Pit

rozen2 Calling all goth-loli girls and Alice enthusiasts! Rozen Maiden is going to make you want to buy every single one of these volumes.

A boy named Jun, who has decided to no longer attend school, becomes addicted to mail ordering. He accidentally orders a doll who takes over his life. The doll then involves him in a game with her other doll sisters where the playfulness can lead to injury, missed bedtimes, and death.

In the first volume, the package arrives and the doll, Shinku, awakes. She starts ordering Jun around and commands that he swear to protect her. When he refuses, Shinku sends a butcher knife wielding, foaming-at-the-mouth teddy bear after him. Jun reluctantly agrees to her demands and she brings all of his action figures to life to kill the teddy bear. This opening scene tells you, you aren't reading any old manga... this one is going to be good!

Just when Jun gets used to having the irritating doll around, others start showing up. Jun’s sister, Nori, is no help as she adores the dolls and makes them all the little sweets and tea they want.

Even though they do tackle deeper issues such as depression and human frailty, there remains an element of little girl silliness to the story line. In volume three, a standoff ensues between the youngest doll and the other dolls. Their threat is cutting her off from the sweets!

“Listen up. We’ve secured the kitchen and fridge. If you ever want sweets again, you will give yourself up!”

This manga is more than a chaotic romp in a doll’s fantasy “Alice” game. It is a comment on teens who sequester themselves away from others in hopes to hide from ridicule from mean classmates. The message in these volumes is that if you go too far, your spirit and all your talents that make you special will be lost. While the authors seem to agree that there are some social situations that make us all want to cower in the attic, they also show us that we can’t let those haters keep our creative spirit down.

For you horror lolita’s, there are several freaky aspects I think you’ll enjoy. The first being Suihuintoh, the spooky doll sister who has black wings and tries to destroy the other dolls by terrorizing them in a mirror world called LaPlace.  In LaPlace resides a freaky rabbit in a tux and top hat. He is what they call the Demon of LaPlace and seems to be there more to confuse them than attack them.

Although Jun thinks the dolls have ruined his life, they really save it by making him face his fears and come out of hibernation. By the end of volume three, the story has changed to a serious nature when Suihuintoh kills one doll and takes a part of Shinku.  Jun risks his life to retrieve the part of Shinku and in the process learns more about his depression.

By the end of volume four, the creator has added another doll for comic relief. She speaks to a kitty cat about how she is going to infiltrate the house and begin killing dolls. It’s a throw back for me to those comics of Snoopy when he pretended to be in combat and snuck through the bushes to the enemy camp.  I think perhaps she was brought in for volume five in which Jun goes into a massive depression and the book is rather dismal if you don’t count the breaks they take to bring in the silly doll on a quest.

Spookiness (and Jun) return in volume six when an new doll is discovered. She has to be the scariest doll yet, wearing all white with a rose and thorny vines growing out of her right eye.

Over all this manga is very entertaining, but perhaps has a more dismal storyline than others I’ve read. The ups and downs in this plot might make you more emotional that you would think. The art is detailed and beautiful. As for extras, there aren't many.  Volume three has a few interesting collaboration comics with the mangas Zombie Loan and DearS. Volume four contains a cute comic on how the manga is made.

If you'd like to check these manga's out, they are available at: Amazon.com

Review: Dead Is The New Black by Marlene Perez

newblackContrary to the promising title and cover, this is not a cute commentary on goth teen life in today's American high school.  Once I got over my expectations, I found Dead Is the New Black moderately entertaining. The story centers around Daisy Giordano, a girl who is the only "norm" in a household of witches.  Her old best friend is now the stereotypical cheer-bitch and has decided that dressing in black, wearing a gothic ankh, and carting a coffin behind her is the new "in" style.  As cheerleaders start dying, our little norm finds out there is an energy vampire in their midst.  Once Daisy begins to investigate the murders, she finds out that her town is not what it seems.  Nightshade is filled with supernatural creatures and is governed by a secret committee headed by werewolves, vampires, and witches.  They are attempting to find the killer as well.  There is a fun Disney teen quality to the book, but if you're looking for real horror, it's lacking.

Although the tale is on the young side, the world created by Marlene shows promise.  After all, who doesn't want to read about a town founded by immortals?  This is a short, quick read that is probably suited for Tweens or younger, but enjoyable enough to be read by teens and adults who like their horror on the light side.  This book is also light weight, ideal for a bring along book for summer reading, a trip to the beach, or to take on a plane trip.  As I said, Nightshade shows promise and I enjoyed the first book enough to pick up the second.  At a perfect price range, this is one of the only books selling these days under $8.

You can purchase and preview Dead Is the New Black at Amazon.com as well as it's sequels Dead Is a State of Mind and Dead Is So Last Year.

Review of: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

Review of:  Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Overall Rating: 9 Owner for some.

Watch The Trailer here in the P:S HQ

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is a great example of The Gothic Aesthetic with it’s gothic wardrobe, gothic architecture, gothic cinematography style, gothic visuals, and gothic storyline.  I loved this move and would watch it repeatedly, it is an owner for me.

Like many of the Underworld movies Rise of the Lycans also received a chilling welcome from many reviewers but I would attribute it to them not getting this movie.  First there are the norms who do not get the gothic culture and are reviled by it’s presence so they would hate this movie because of it’s nature.  Then there are those who are expecting this movie to be more like Underworld an action film first with vampires and werewolves in it.  This is more like Underworld: Evolution a horror film that has some action in it.

A Second-generation lycan shown in Underworld.... Image via Wikipedia

Bill Nighy portrayal of Victor was brilliant.  He is a cold, cruel man of strong beliefs , a mid-evil politician, a ruler, and yet he still has some heart when it came to a few subjects one of them his daughter.  Bill’s performance really conveyed the inner torment over the choices that his duty and beliefs drove him to make.  I was captivated at how he portrayed a nasty, evil character yet still got me to feel sad for his situation and empathetic at times.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans tells the origin story of the centuries-old blood feud between the vampires and their slaves, the Lycans.  Around 1250 a young Lycan named Lucian falls in love with Sonja, the daughter of Viktor leader of the Vampires.  Lucian emerges as a powerful leader who rallies the werewolves to rise up against Viktor, the cruel vampire king who has enslaved them.

For more read Theater or Renter: January 2009

Likes

  1. Stunning Visuals one of especial note is the sad king scene
  2. Has a great love scene in it.
  3. Bill Nighy portrayal of Victor
  4. The story
  5. Action sequences
  6. Look of the werewolves
  7. Escape scene
  8. Gratuitous use of a ballista
  9. Characters have great depth
  10. Ending was brilliant

Dislikes / Concerns

Get you copy of:  Underworld & Underworld: Evolution here


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