Lunar Legend Tsukihime Vol. 1
I confess that despite being an avid fan, I never quite 'got' the Lunar Legend Tsukihime anime, and so I was eager to give the manga a try.
The cover depicts our heroine, the golden-haired, red-eyed vampire princess Arcueid Brunstud, surrounded by broken chains. This image is continued on the back cover, superimposed by Shiki's knife Nanatsuya ('Seven Nights') in a pool of crimson blood. The original Japanese logo, comprising of the kanji for 'moon' and 'princess' on a crescent moon have been retained, along with the Engrish tagline ‘blue blue glass moon, under the crimson air,’ which I actually think is quite pretty.
Shiki Tohno was involved in an accident when he was a young boy that left him able to see life-lines -- a talent known as the 'Eyes of Death Perception.' He meets a mage who gave him a pair of enchanted glasses that cancel out the ability, and Shiki goes to live with distant relatives until the story begins eight years later.
After the death of his father, Shiki is summoned home to the Tohno household. On the day that he is due to leave, he brutally murders a blonde girl using a knife that was found in his possessions and returned to him by his aunt. Thinking that the event was a dream, Shiki continues with his day, only for the girl to later appear and introduce herself as Arcueid Brunstud.
Shiki learns this strange girl is actually a vampire -- one of the True Ancestors -- and because he sliced her up, Arcueid is weak. Thus she requires a bodyguard until she finishes healing. He finds himself dragged into a strange world of demon dogs, evil vampires, and an ancient feud between Arcueid and a creature known as Roa.
Having never encountered a manga produced by DrMaster and ComicsOne, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that all Shiki's thoughts are in Japanese with neat translations next to them. This is the first time that I have seen Japanese survive in a translated manga, other than as sound effects or as chapter headings.
The translation itself is excellent, and the art dark and gothic, which gives a creepy feel to what amounts to being a fine example of horror manga. However, it is not as dark as the anime, but this is a good thing; Arcueid's personality is happy-go-lucky and carefree at times and she is not as solemn and serious. She even smiles when she decides that she will make Shiki take responsibility for her murder.
It introduces a cast of characters with their own secrets, such as Shiki's sister Akiha, her twin servants Hisui and Kohaku, and Ciel, Shiki's sempai who isn't the schoolgirl that she appears to be. Many of these secrets will be revealed further in future volumes of this engrossing series, if the anime series is any indication. Horror lovers will like this manga and its new, neat twist on the vampire mythos, as will fans of the anime and the original computer game.