Manga-ka: Mika Sadahiro
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: September 2008
Synopsis: “Talk about keeping secrets from your kids! King and J are two immortal vampires stuck with raising Ace. As he grows up he finds himself attracted to J. But King and J, afraid Ace will find out they are vampires, send him to a boarding school. Mika Sadahiro’s gothic love story of the growth of a boy raised by vampires and the emotions of vampires that span eternity continues.”
Pathos volume two returns readers to the story of Ace and the vampiric duo who adopted him. Years have passed and the youth remains enthralled with the immortal life of a vampire, and even more so with one of his ‘brothers’, J.
Let me start off by saying, Ace is a twit. His evolving crush in the first volume was endearing because as a child coming into these kinds of new emotions, his naivety and enthusiasm still maintained a charming level of innocence. Well not here in volume two. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved this second book, but sometimes that boy just found a way to get under my skin. For the majority of the book I found his obsessive love for J to be about as enjoyable as watching a child’s temper tantrum on the floor of a supermarket next to the candy aisle. Watching J give in to him at certain moments was no less worthy of a similar sigh and a shake of my head, if not a disgruntled frown.
But, as a whole, the sum of this second volume’s parts did manage to make up for its shortcomings. While I didn’t find it as eloquently paced or intriguing as the first, it still rounded off the short series nicely. There are surprises and dramatic confrontations that readers may not expect, from both the lead trio and others who are unfortunate enough to fall into their path. I love J, Ace and the other brother, King, more when they’re a happy family because it’s just plain ‘ol heartwarming. Those moments are fewer here than in volume one, but they were saving graces for my tolerance of Ace.
I was pretty indifferent towards J as a character but his deeper connection with King was an element of the story I found intriguing. King himself manages to play some pinnacle roles in this book, and to his credit, he does it while remaining predominantly in the background, a power figure behind the shadows so to speak.
Ace and J finally get together, in a way that only Sadahiro’s vampires could. The sex is split about 50/50 here; half is your general guy/guy fare but the rest is the exuberantly described act of biting each other and sharing blood, a vampire’s version of sex. Sometimes the implications of the pleasure felt by the vampiric sex, which sometimes came off as forced to a cheesy degree, had me chuckling a bit, but I did find the sex scenes where the two were combined between Ace and J to be an interesting mesh of desire and lust. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of people being all over each other in this one so if you were in anyway disappointed with the sex in volume one, then you’ll definitely want to grab a hold of volume two.
The whole story feels very reminiscent of older harlequin romance with its style of romance and dramatizations, excluding any woman at all of course. In fact, I’d say that Pathos feels more intentionally aimed at an audience of older woman than most other boys’ love stories I’ve read. It’s a more mature story in its execution, but one that’s not hard to become engrossed in for its two volume length with its generally straight-forward plot and fluffy endings fringed with darker possibilities.
Mika Sadahiro’s artwork remains no disappoint to her fans, which a solid and distinct art style that has a nice retro flair to it. Admittedly the character designs don’t stray far from what readers have seen before from her, but seeing some familiar faces is a small quip. I didn’t have any issues telling characters apart from each other in the story, with the minor exception of judging a character’s age when the story hops around time-wise, so similar character designs don’t cause any problems within this contained series.
No qualms from DMP’s release work on the book either which sports one of their higher-quality dust-jackets that really does the art and design justice. I love the way it looks and feels, nice and pretty sitting on my shelf next to its predecessor. It’s an all-together beautifully put together book. I also have to give continued kudos to DMP for releasing it in the first place, since Pathos definitely veers away from the safer side of risqué their choice of boys’ love tends to be.
Overall, if you’re a fan of boys’ love and vampires, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything out there that’ll satisfy your cravings like Pathos will. If you’ve read, watched or been intrigued by Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire series and liked it, than you definitely want to pick up a copy of this one for its similar flavor, a comparison I couldn’t help but make throughout my reading for the charming, almost modern-day aristocratic nature of the ambiguous trio of vampires. All reason together, I continue to recommend it for the same reasons I did before: its dark, it’s poignant and overflowing with sensuality, even if Ace is a twit sometimes. I’d certainly hold Pathos up as one of the more worthwhile boys’ love purchases to make for those with a more mature taste, and in a market of so many, I’d like to think that says something in itself.