Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Chiyuki, at seventeen years old, has barely months left to live because of a serious heart condition. One day from her hospital bed she sees a young man flying in the sky...before he falls abruptly to earth. She runs to find him and discovers Toya, an eighteen-year-old vampire. Toya has one thousand years to live, a thought that fills him with apprehension. He can ease the loneliness of this lifetime by drinking the blood of a human, who will then be granted the same lifespan in exchange for nourishing him...but how can he ask another person to share a future that fills him with fear? Chiyuki immediately finds a place in his heart, and he in turn cures hers by feeding her some of his blood, but can he come to terms with his feelings for her and ask her to share his long life? And without it, how many snows will Chiyuki see?
If you only know Bisco Hatori from her parody of the reverse harem genre Ouran High School Host Club, be prepared to be surprised. Millennium Snow, her first series, is a beautiful, melancholy romance about a vampire who will live for a thousand years and a girl who, when he met her, had only weeks left. Because her life has been so filled with the specter of death, Chiyuki (whose name is written with the characters for “thousand” and “snow”) yearns to live. She counts her years by the first snows, and each year her goal is to make it to that first snowfall. Toya, on the other hand, knows all too well the comparative ephemeral nature of a human life because he will live for one thousand years...and already at eighteen he has seen people die and leave him behind. That was painful enough; so how can he allow himself to grow close to others and go through that over and over again? And yet he can't seem to leave Chiyuki alone. He could, of course, drink her blood, which would allow her to live his thousand years beside him. But Toya's an anxious vampire. How can he ask her to go into a future that scares even him?
That question is at the heart of Millennium Snow's first three volumes, and paired with it is the bigger issue of whether or not Toya can really allow himself to love. He loved his grandfather, and he died. What if he loves Chiyuki and she dies too? This fear is what drives him to save her life once by feeding her his blood, thus curing her heart disease, but is it enough to ask her to make what he feels would be a major sacrifice? Chiyuki, who has lived most of her life with the fear of death, feels very differently about the situation, and we get the impression (bluntly stated in volume three) that she would not feel like he was asking her to sacrifice anything. Ultimately, though, she just wants Toya to find happiness, and for most of these three volumes, she thinks that that would be enough.
Ten years separate volumes two and three, and that's very evident from the art, if not the writing. The first two books (reprinted in an omnibus edition to celebrate the printing of volume three) have a much less polished art style, but also have a more consistent serious tone. There are jokes, yes, but they don't come until later in volume two and make up less of a force in the books than in volume three. Not that the third book is in the style of Ouran - it's more that Hatori seems more comfortable using humor on the heels of her success with her second series. While it doesn't detract from volume three, it does give it a slightly different feeling, although Hatori does manage to recapture the melancholy romance of the first books towards the end, where it is much more important. Obviously we also see some major changes in Hatori's art between books two and three, with Toya now looking like a (really) male Haruhi and Satsuki being a near dead-ringer for Tamaki, a similarity of which Hatori is very much aware. But really, it is difficult to have complaints when an artist's work improves, and that is the case here – it's just a little disconcerting if you go directly from volume two to volume three.
One of the best surprises in this series is the inclusion of Hatori's debut short story “Romance of One Moment” in the back of volume one (halfway through the omnibus). While it is a little odd that her bio consistently translates the title as “A Moment of Romance,” the story itself is a thing of bittersweet beauty, following the romance of Midori and the spirit of a boy who lives in her best friend Shiki's body. It sounds more difficult than it is – Hatori spins the tale skillfully, and it certainly has the power to bring tears to your eyes. Millennium Snow touches on the feeling this story produces; “Romance of One Moment” brings it to life.
There will be one more volume of Millennium Snow, so volume three isn't conclusive. It does, however, set us up for the finish, with Toya and Chiyuki both thinking more seriously about their relationship and parallels being drawn between them and a classmate's relationship with a different supernatural creature. Satsuki plays a much less obvious role than in volume two, which is kind of too bad, but ultimately this is Chiyuki and Toya's story, so perhaps it's just as well. In any case, Millennium Snow is a beautiful story with moments of humor. Even if Ouran High School Host Club was not your favorite, this is worth reading, because as it turns out, Bisco Hatori is anything but a one-note author.
Overall : A-
Story : A
Art : B-
+ Story is romantic and melancholy all at once, Hatori sets a mood well. Moments of humor keep it from being too depressing. Short story is excellent.
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