Manga-ka: Ryo Saenagi
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: February 2006
Synopsis: “As a school punishment, Kanata has to ring a bell in a deserted church. But when the floor collapses, he falls into a room where he discovers a coffin – from which a vampire rises, killing Kanata! But Kanata’s soul is saved, and he and the vampire soon realize that they are bound to each other through a magic spell! With a cool style and sensibility, Sequence showcases the ultimate in pretty boys and vampire slayers!”
Sequence doesn’t waste anytime in giving readers most of what the back cover synopsis promises: within the first ten pages, Kanata, a young high school student, accidentally discovers a vampire in a coffin, hidden within an abandoned church, and is promptly killed by him. Moments later he awakens with no clear memory of what happened… though he is alive so all’s right with the world, right? Not quite. Strange occurrences at his school bring about Kanata and the vampire, Kamyu Titi’s, second encounter when they both realize they’ve been connected through a magic spell, one that combined their souls and leaves both their bodies susceptible to the other one’s pain, including death.
Events that follow aren’t hard to see coming; even stranger events start happening around the town and to Kanata’s friends, and it’s up to him and Titi to save the day. It’s a combination of this, and learning more about Titi the vampire’s past, that takes up the bulk of this book. Unfortunately, it’s not a very well held together mix, with minor plot holes and character personalities that are at times a little to hard to swallow. One of the good examples is the neat and tidy moment, near the book’s beginning, where Kanata explains to his school friends about the ghost who kidnapped a female classmate. Not only do they immediately believe him but are actually quite knowledgeable about it; in fact they have a book with the creature’s exact image in it. How convenient is that? Not nearly as convenient as their revealed skills later. A little scepticism from someone would be nice. In fact, Kanata’s unwavering acceptance of the situation he’s found himself in is probably what draws this story out of the realm of realism even more than the demons, ghouls and bloodsuckers.
Character-wise, Kanata and Titi share the kind of ambigious relationship that fans of Ryo Saenagi have come to expect. Titi, in particular, is popped out of the same main-character mold as many of Ryo Saenagi’s other series (with the minor exception of being an undead extra-pretty-boy of course): spirited and snarky but small, and sometimes cute (and has few qualms with cross dressing, naturally). While those looking for something fresh may be disappointed, it at least provides some familiarity, if not staleness, to followers of the manga-ka’s work.
The book is also littered with foreshadowing about a presumably evil-spirited Priest, one who had claimed ownership of Titi and was responsible for imprisoning him. Kanata is in possession of the Priest’s cross and he’s able to wield it as a large, spiritual beating stick, convenient for those pesky demon attacks. It’s never explained why he possesses these kinds of powers. Despite the lack of explanation, the book still manages to feel needlessly crammed in a way that feels more suited to multiple volumes instead of mashed into one awkwardly paced release. Most depressing though is that when the story finally feels like it could really take off and answer all your questions… the book ends, leaving readers with no explanation and no conclusion. Sequence is essentially, and unfortunately, a prequel to a series that just doesn’t exist.
The art in Sequence is pretty nice but nothing exceptionally unique. The action scenes are well drawn and easy to follow, even if lack of plot surrounding them stops the fights from being as dramatic as they wish they were, and the characters are fairly attractive, donning more subdued bishonen qualities. With Tokyopop currently releasing several other series by this manga-ka, it’s worth noting that Sequence, despite being the first of Ryo Saenagi’s works to be published by TP, is one of their most recent works. It’s very evident in the art which has a much more solid feel to it, characters are more consistent in appearance and suffer much less from lopsided eyes and faces.
All in all, Sequence is a pretty energetic manga that does manage to be fairly entertaining at times but unfortunately awkward pacing, lacking plot depth and an inconclusive ending make this a book only worth recommending to fans of Ryo Saenagi (or her artwork at least).