Manga-ka: Mika Sadahiro
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