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Review: Pathos (Vol. 01)

Manga-ka: Mika Sadahiro
Publisher: DMP/June
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: July 2008

“Ace has been raised in happiness by the beautiful young men King and J. To thank them, Ace adores them as older brothers and grows innocently attached to them. But as Ace grows, J becomes colder to him with each passing day. The truth is King and J are immortal vampires, and J has kept his distance because he may become unable to resist the scent of the fresh blood of the growing Ace.”

Pathos is the story of a unique family of three. After his parents are killed, Ace is taken in by their killers and raised as their younger brother. The two, King and J, are vampires, and it’s a lifestyle they’re unable to hide from the perceptive Ace, especially when the boy’s affections for J soon become anything but innocent.

Best known for her gritty prison story, Under Grand Hotel (not licensed for English publication), Mika Sadahiro shouldn’t disappoint her fans who’re looking for a dark and twisted story of passion. Ace is the main focus of the story, initially at least, and readers are shown out-of-order glimpses of his life from child to teen. His insecurities of not being blood related to King and J are pushed aside by hormones and a raging vampire fetish, all aimed at his much older ‘brother’, J. Meanwhile, J, as a vampire, who can’t feel anything such as sexual acts as humans can, finds pleasure with King as they exchange blood during bouts of passionate feeding. Against his better judgement, J finds himself unnervingly drawn to the taste of Ace’s blood, which puts at risk their little family’s already strange dynamics, not to mention Ace’s life.

I really loved reading this first volume of Pathos. It felt refreshing having something that’s just so different from the usual boys’ love you’ll find in English out there. Honestly, though there weren’t ‘that’ many sex scenes (unless you count the in-for-sex neck sucking sessions), the overall sexual themes made this feel like a series I could more likely see handled by DMP’s imprint, 801Media, as opposed to June which, despite a few exceptions like these, I generally associate with the lighter kind of stories.

My one qualm with the story would be the slightly confusing set-up of the chapters, which hop around from present, past and future. So make sure to keep careful eye on the scenarios, and their relevance to others, to see how everything orders in the end. The back and forth timeline hopping did prove a lot of interesting and character-development peeks at relevant events, however, including a lengthy look at the life of King and J before Ace came into their undead lives.

Mika Sadahiro’s art style also brings a level of uniqueness to the book, with a retro feeling, bolstered by the occasional eighties-style fashion sense, and attractive metro sexual men who still look very much like men. The character’s eyes, and their intense gazes, often speak as much as their blood-dripped lips, which creeped me out sometimes, but in a way that was ultimately complimenting to the whole thing. I also loved the cover illustration, which, combined with DMP’s lovely print quality of the cover slip, makes for a very attractive first impression.

Overall, the sullen tone and dark eroticism of this series made for an intriguing read. I really loved how different it felt compared to the often cookie-cutter styling of boys’ love stories and I highly recommend Pathos to those who want something a little dark and different. As Ace eagerly awaits his eighteenth birthday for the chance to join his brothers as a vampire, I eagerly look forward to seeing where this twisted trio ups in volume two.

Review written September 5, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo.
Book purchased from vendor at Fan Expo 2008

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of Kuriousity.ca. Residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia she takes great joy in collecting all manners of manga genres, regretting that there's never enough time in the day to review or share them all. Along with reviews, Lissa is responsible for all the news postings to the website and works full time as a web and graphic designer.

Kuriousity does not condone or support the illegal distribution of manga online.
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5 Responses

  1. Tina says:

    I loved Pathos when I first read it in scanslations – and when the book came out, I snatched it up!

    Pathos is one of those classics in BL [I say classics from the standpoint of an American fan] that got a license and I wasn't charged an arm/leg for it. :)

    BTW, I also have the doujinshi issues that were included in the Pathos release from Aqua –

    I just love Sadahiro. She makes her manga and produces it first, then waits for the publishers to come around and make her an offer. That's true creator spirit there. [/fangirling]

  2. […] a huge influx of reviews at the Manga Jouhou forums, and at her own site, Kuriousity, she looks at vol. 1 of Pathos and vol. 9 of Air Gear. At PopCultureShock the Manga Recon crew posts some manga minis, Sam Kusek […]

  3. Lissa says:

    What were the doujinshi issues? If you don't mind me asking!

    With Mika Sadahiro being as well-loved in the scanlation community as she is, and Pathos being such an enjoyable read, I was honestly surprised its release in English didn't cause more of a stir.

  4. Tina says:

    Sorry, I didn't see your comment here – ^_-

    Mika has always been a doujinshika first, mangaka second. Her circle is ‘Affluenza’, and she’s been making self-produced BL since 1988. Her first pro mangaka gig was with Biblos in the mid 90’s, and during that time, she still self-produced yaoi. The first successful doujinshi she seems to have had is Pathos [the book I have is from 98 and its doujinshi size] but she re-printed the doujinshi again in 99 when she came out with Extra stories and a sequel [these reprints were manga size].

    She reprinted both of them again in 2000, I suspect she didn’t have too much time to make anything original since she was making work for pubs Sanwa Shupan and mooks like Magazine-Magazine; but she finally made a splash Sanwa-S with Angus Day [physically-handicapped yaoi]. This looked like it allowed her to splurge a bit on the self-production front, because in 2001 she self-produced a title called Under Grand Hotel. She then had a minor hit in 2002 with the Buddy System for Magazine Magazine, and then Sanwa Shupan picked up Under Grand Hotel; I suspect her popular status as a doujinshika got the attention of [Oakla], who finally slapped their ISBN on Pathos in 2004. :) And the rest is history– they say.

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