The Tarot Café Vol. 2
Happily, this second volume opens with the continuation of the story that ended abruptly in the first volume. That was my first worry in picking up this volume, as I was afraid that TOKYOPOP simply wouldn't finish this weird, yet oddly familiar story of a sadist princess, a hard-working and in-love alchemist, and a puppet.
The Tarot Café, more than anything else, is a collection of supernatural and fairy tale stories with a gothic twist. Pamela is the common link between her clients who come into her store for a consultation, with Pamela's tarot cards telling the tale. Dark-haired Pamela has a unique gift -- she actually can see someone's true future. Many times, her advice seems to lead her clients down a dark path, but ultimately, they find peace for the payment of a bead. What this bead is, I have no idea. The alchemist asks why Pamela needs it, and she replies that it's in order for him to die. You do the math.
In this volume, the aforementioned story reaches its conclusion, and a new secondary character is introduced intially as a client. Aaron is sold by his alcoholic father to a mysterious man named Nebiros, who tells him to never leave the castle, as werewolves constantly patrol the forest outside. One day, Aaron leaves the castle, gets bitten by one of the werewolf women, and Nebiros casts him aside. Aaron comes to Pamela with the desire to find Nebiros and remove the werewolf curse. However, it turns out that Aaron is like Pamela's friend and frequent café companion, Belus: she can't divine his future. Pamela decides to let Aaron stay with her and help her run the café until she can finally get a clear picture of what Fate has in store for him. She thinks that Belus and Aaron are connected, but Belus denies it.
The final story gives us some background on Pamela, whose mother apparently made a deal with some magical being to save Pamela from the witch hunts. After witnessing her mother's death on a bonfire, Pamela meets a magician named Ash, who raises and teaches her. Later, they become lovers, and Ash died in Pamela's arms... 700 years ago. A man named Ash enters the café, being hunted by witch hunters/bikers. However, this man looks exactly like the Ash from Pamela's past, although he has no memory of her and scoffs at her tarot cards. The witch hunters break in and kidnap Pamela and Ash, claiming that he is a witch and begin to torture him to confess. Pamela, seeing history repeating itself, goes berserk and attacks the witch hunters, freeing Ash, who has lost a lot of blood by this time. However, Belus comes through the window and saves the day. The last page shows a cigarette-smoking Ash, definitely not the innocent that he played earlier with Pamela. Ladies and gentlemen, the metaplot has just begun.
I really can't wait until the next volume comes out in September. The Tarot Café combines detailed, gothic artwork with good episodic stories that utilize tarot cards as a visual story cues. This series is a real gem for older readers who like their darkly pretty boys.