Reviewby Rebecca Silverman, Mar 1st 2014
Tsukimiya is a half-breed – half angel and half vampire. Because of her parents' tainted relationship, she has been damned with a death curse: unless she drinks the blood of a pure demon before she turns eighteen, she will die. On her quest to prevent her death, she inadvertently teams up with Hinata, a young man of similar fate. As the two strive to neither kill nor have sex with each other, while of course pursuing a cure, they run into an assortment of angels, demons, and other supernatural folk all bent on stopping them. There are more things in heaven and earth indeed...
Every so often, one reads a book that simply screams to be put on film. This is one of them. Bloody Cross, an ongoing series from Shonen GanGan magazine recently released by Yen Press, is an action heavy story of blood, crazy angels, and a couple who can't decide whether they want to kill each other or throw themselves at each other, and it is the stuff action shows are made of. As a book it is perhaps slightly less exciting than it would be on screen, but if you can overlook some of the more ridiculous aspects, it's one hell of a ride.
The story follows Tsukimiya, a seventeen-year-old who may not make it to her eighteenth birthday because of her heritage: one of her parents was an angel and the other was a vampire. Since the god in this story frowns on interracial couples, all children of mixed relationships are cursed to die horribly at age eighteen...unless they can consume the blood of a pure demon. Tsukimiya has reached the desperation point in her quest when she meets Hinata, a young man with a penchant for lying to her whose underhanded tricks get them both into a lot of trouble when instead of curing the curse they end up sharing it. Now they have to pursue a different lead – apparently there's a book of divine prophecy that could save the both of them if they can find it and its key. Unfortunately for them, a couple of angels who really ought to be locked up are also on its trail, and they have definite feelings about allowing so-called half-breeds to gain access to it, even if it means that those half-breeds will have to die.
Obviously there is some prejudicial language being used in this volume, as “half-breed” is hardly a word with an illustrious history in English. The contempt with which it is used here shows that this choice appears deliberate on the part of translator Mari Morimoto, and the level of racism displayed by the “purebred” angels and demons for those of mixed race may remind some readers of the bad old days before the Civil Rights Movement. This can be uncomfortable, as it is still a hot button issue for many people, but it does fit in with the world of the story, with Hinata and Tsukimiya clearly taking offense at the terminology whenever it is used.
Speaking of the two heroes, their relationship is one straight out of a stereotypical action romance – they appear to hate each other most of the time, but they also can't seem to stop themselves from kissing or groping each other. Hinata repeatedly exposes, kisses, and licks Tsukimiya's breast (under the thin pretext that that's where her curse mark is), and she's equally aggressive. While so far it has not gone beyond that, and frankly it is kind of nice not to see characters stumbling around the issue, this is a more mature book than it may at first look, certainly not skimping on the violence either. In fact parts of the volume's finale are downright disturbing, so don't go into this expecting a tame vampire tale.
The story's use of religion as a background is really very interesting, as it seems to mix eastern and western faiths with happy abandon. On the one hand we have a singular god and a system of angels and demons that is very similar to familiar monotheistic religions; on the other, we have people vying to become “the next god,” which implies that this is a state one can attain, which most certainly is not part of most monotheistic theologies. This makes for more twists than we already have and sets the stage for an interesting world to be developed as time goes on.
Shiwo Komeyama, who previously published under the name Aoi Mizuki, does not make much use of backgrounds or gray space, although she does use black (ie blood) to good effect. This gives the story the sense of playing out on some celestial plane and allows her to spend more time showing movement in a sweep of black ink. It also makes the book feel very glaringly bright at times, which can be an issue. Her people are uniformly tall and thin, with the women being decidedly pear shaped, but she has a decent enough grasp of anatomy to make them work. Fortunately she also appears to know how breasts work, since we see a lot of Tsukimiya's.
On the whole, Bloody Cross is a hybrid of pseudo-religious fantasy and fast paced action story. The twists keep on coming and there is never a moment to stop and catch your breath, so if you're looking for something non-stop, this is the series for you. While it would make a terrific anime, it also makes for a pretty good manga, so even if you're sick of vampires, give it a try.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B-
+ Fast paced non-stop action filled with plot twists. Interesting use of language and religions. Tsukimiya's a pretty cool heroine.
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