Manga-ka: Makoto Tateno
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: June 2008
Synopsis: “From the streets of New York and the hallways of a Japanese high school, to the confines of a British boys’ school dormitory, Mika and her twin persona, Eru, have stalked and hunted. The two are vampires – creatures driven by their thirst for blood. A fateful encounter with the enigmatic Kinsei reveals a clue to a forgotten past. Mika remembers nothing but Eru knows of a shared past with Kinsei. Though Kinsei seems like a vampire, he also hunts at being something more.”
Red Angel is a two-volume series by Makoto Tateno, a manga-ka better known by English manga fans as a creator of popular boys’ love series, including DMP’s Yellow and the currently published, Hero Heel. Red Angel is a story of a red winged vampire whose body shares two forms, that of a beautiful young woman named Mika, and the other her twin brother, Eru.
This first volume is an introductory to the characters, with the majority of the book short self-contained stories of Mika’s various encounters around the world. From befriending a girl in Japanese high school, to becoming close with a gentleman in a British academy, the story takes readers around the world and through various parts of Mika and Eru’s drifting life. All the stories have a somber yet elegant feel to them, very akin to what you’d expect from a romanticized view of the vampire. It’s the kind delicate mood that wouldn’t serve well in a longer series, but at two volumes, Red Angel will likely pull it off until the end.
I purchased this book because I was curious to read something by Makoto Tateno that wasn’t one of her yaois. I liked the attention to personality and conflict that she’s given cast of her previous works and I found Red Angel to be no exception. Mika is a beautiful, dark creature but one with a kind heart despite its black nature. She and her brother are like enigmas, almost like vessels of the story over completely immersed characters (reminiscent of Petshop of Horrors or various Kaori Yuki works), but at the same time you can’t help but be intrigued about them as they take you from tale to tale.
The art suffers at times from some inconsistency but that doesn’t stop the beauty of it from shining through. The heavy use of black and dark tones sets the stage for this vampiric story along with some very attractively designed characters. It’s always nice having a character who I think is drawn as beautiful to look at it as the characters in the book keep commenting.
DMP’s work on this was good, no more and no less than I’ve come to expect from them. The book is of a bigger trim than most English released mangas and comes with an attractive dust jacket. The interior writing was smooth and subtly elegant, suiting the mood of the story well.
Fans of vampire stories would certainly do well to pick this one up, for a gently sad look at the life of a vampire she fades from one life to the next. The later chapters of the book begin to dwell into a different direction with the introduction of another red-winged vampire named Kinsei, which leaves me curious about what course the story will take in volume two as well. Pretty artwork and a story that managed to well combine poise and plot, made me like this first volume of Red Angel more than I’d originally anticipated. I hope volume two delivers the same dark charm and look forward to finding out.
Review written December 7, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo.
Book purchased from independant hobby-store, The Batter’s Box