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Review: The Reformed

Author: Christopher Hart
Artist: ANZU
Publisher: Del Rey
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: May 2008

Synopsis: “Handsome, wealthy, respected, Giancarlo has lived for hundreds of years, surrounded in splendour, shrouded in darkness, and enslaved by the insatiable hunger lurking inside him. In the glittering ballrooms where the privileged gather, he moves with cool elegance. But in the desolate alleys where the undead feed, he preys with murderous intent. Immortality is his, but love never will be – only an eternity of loneliness, filled with the blood of innocent victims. But Jenny won’t be one of them. Something about this beautiful young woman stirs feelings in Giancarlo that he hasn’t known in centuries.”

The Reformed is a one-shot story of Giancarlo, a vampire of high social class who finds his prey on the night streets. One evening he saves a woman named Jenny from an attacker, only to find himself, an immortal bloodthirsty monster, in love with her.

There isn’t much more to this story than my short synopsis provides. Despite the simple plot, leaving plenty of space for it, there was a severe lack of depth from the characters or the events. Giancarlo’s love for Jenny felt rather spontaneous, especially from someone with a story that goes to such lengths showing Giancarlo’s inability to love and live a normal life among humans. Jenny in turn falls hopelessly for the vampire as well, though at least she has vampire mythlore to account for it (even if it wasn’t the actual case here).

The other protagonist of this story is a stubborn and skilled detective who’s out to prove that Giancarlo is behind all the recent grisly murders, while the true killer, who seeks to destroy Giancarlo’s attempt at a new life, remains at large.

A saving grace in my eyes for this story was the artwork. Anzu’s work is a step above much of what readers have become accustomed to seeing from global manga. It’s a shoujo-style with thin, often sketchy, lines with lots of screen toning (suitable for a story that takes place almost entirely at night). While Jenny’s character design bothered me a little, as I thought she looked a tad too young at times, Giancarlo’s look was dead-on for what one would expect of an overdramatic, internally-angsting, pretty-man vampire. The artwork helped to set up the mood and atmosphere of this story in a way I found the writing failed to. The cover artwork is really eye-catching and attractive, which, sad but honest to say, sort of fostered my disappointment of this book as a whole when it didn’t prove as dramatic as the cover suggested. Goes to show you shouldn’t judge right?

One nit-picky failing of the book that made reading it a tad difficult at times, however, was the often-changing way the panels were to be read. The book is drawn in a left-to-right format but occasionally there’d be pages or several panels that would need to be read right-to-left to have the dialogue or occurrences make any sense. This kind of inconsistency didn’t do the book any favours and greatly impacted the story’s flow.

Overall, while it did prove a bit entertaining at times, The Reformed failed to make much of an impact on me. The art was impressive at times, and the book did manage to muster up a semblance of the mood it was going for, but as a whole, I found the story a little too shallow for my liking. And would it have been so hard to put a simple ‘The End’ or something on the final page?

I recommend this book to those who love to be surrounded by all things dark, undead and bloodsucking but I can’t honestly suggest it to the casual reader.

Review written August 14, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo for Manga Jouhou
Book provided by Del Rey for review purposes

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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