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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/06/2008 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Vampire Hunter D, Vol. 2"

Vampire Hunter D, Vol. 2
By Hideyuki Kikuchi
Adapted and Illustrated by Saiko Takaki
Digital Manga Publishing

Review by Tom Good

With so many vampire stories crowding into the Nosferatusphere these days, a vampire tale needs some good hooks to keep it unique and interesting. This volume of Vampire Hunter D certainly has a great selection of visual elements. It's got the goth-cowboys-with-laptops aesthetic. It's got some hooded bad guys whose robes are drawn with cool hatching patterns that make them look like evil pinstriped monks. And it's got a new character, Lina Sween, whose wide-eyed and somewhat possessed look reminded me of Helena Bonham Carter in Sweeny Todd.

This episode concerns the fate of four children who vanished near some mysterious ruins ten years ago. Three of them reappeared a few weeks later, but without any memory of what had happened. When D comes to town and investigates some vampire attacks that happened during daylight, he meets Lina, who had been one of the missing children. Lina takes a liking to D, and she gets it into her head that she'll become his "assistant." The interaction between the two of them gives the story charm, and supplies some quieter interludes between the battles.

Oddly, it feels like we get to know Lina better than D. Considering he is the main character, D has relatively few lines and even at the end of the second volume, we still know little about him. But there's nothing wrong with him being the strong, silent hero type, as long as we eventually learn more. In my favorite scene, D's creepy self-aware, talking left hand grins as it helps him out in a sword fight. I want to know more about that hand.

So what's not to like? The flaw with this book is that it's a bit too confusing. Some amount of disorientation and chaos may add to the effect of a horror story. But too many times I wondered if I had accidentally turned two or three pages instead of one, and I had to backtrack to figure out what was going on. I hope the story gets easier to follow, but it is still a good read.

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