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Godchild, Vol. 1 (v. 1) Paperback – March 7, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Manga readers with a taste for stylish, delirious melodrama will enjoy this addition to the long-running "The Cain Saga" which also includes the manga series Angel Sanctuary. Late 19th-century London society women swoon at the sight of slender, sloe-eyed young Lord Cain, Earl of Hargreaves. They don't recognize his hereditary burden of melancholy, from which he distracts himself by tracking down dangerous maniacs. He is accompanied and sometimes aided by Riff, his manservant and extremely close companion, and by his doll-like, 10-year-old half-sister, Marie, who serves as an unwitting lure for serial killers. Cain is menaced by his mad-scientist half-brother Dr. Jizabel Disraeli, assassin for a secret criminal organization founded by Cain's monstrously abusive father. The four stories in this volume are thankfully self-contained, each developing from an initially baffling mystery into a frenzy of dark revelations and derring-do, after which Cain is left cuddling Marie or gazing soulfully at Riff. Yuki's stories revel in hints of spiritual angst and kinky tendencies, reinforcing the hero's romantic alienation. Her art is lovingly detailed but dramatically cut, with startlingly odd angles and abrupt jumps from closeups to distant shots; managing to create and sustain a giddy mood in which the absurd action can be convincing and even moving. (Mar.)
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About the Author
Kaori Yuki was born in Tokyo, Japan, and started drawing at a very early age. Following her debut work Natsufuku No Erie (Erie in Summer Uniform), she wrote a compelling series of short stories: Zankoku Na Douwatachi (Cruel Fairytales), Neji (Screw), and Sareki Okoku (Gravel Kingdom). As proven by her best-selling series Angel Sanctuary and The Cain Saga, her celebrated body of work has etched an indelible mark in the gothic comics genre. She likes mysteries and British films, and is a fan of the movie Dead Poets Society and the show Twin Peaks.
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I was right; starting with Godchild I, despite it being the sixth Cain Saga book, was probably a better idea than starting with the prequels. There's a bit more exposition here as we get to know the characters. The tone is still that odd-but-intriguing mix of Victorian gaslight mystery and quintessentially Japanese extreme horror; one wonders why this is a shojo manga sometimes, as the only manga I've read that comes close in the gore department is Reiko the Zombie Shop. All that aside, though, Godchild I does suffer some of the same shortcomings that plagued Forgotten Juliet; the stories have a tendency to be far too quickly wrapped up to truly develop any mystery angle, even when they're spread across multiple parts. The end result gives the book an episodic feel, even when there's obvious development going on in larger plots (as is the case in the book's strongest offering, "Scold's Bridle"). It's not bad stuff, certainly better than Reiko the Zombie Shop, but it's not as good as I was hoping given the raves. *** ½
For those of you familiar with Kaori Yuki's work in either The Cain Saga or Angel Sanctuary, you'll find that Godchild has a very different style to it, although the layout is much the same as in The Cain Saga, being episodic, but still gently swimming through one general story arc. I won't spoil any of it for you, but suffice it to say there's a family conflict here.
Godchild is certainly extremely gory, and not for the faint of heart. This said, gore is pretty much the only thing that works toward it's OT (older teen) rating (unless of course, you can factor in sheer freakin' creepiness). There are five episodes in the first graphic novel, each of which deals with some fairy tale or children story turned visceral and bloody murder, which are always wonderfully portrayed by Yuki's wonderful art and writing style, and if you're into stuff like that, this should definitely be a plus.
I only have beef with one part of Godchild: it's classification. By almost no means other than art should Godchild be considered a Shoujo manga. Just because Kaori Yuki's other works have been Shoujo, doesn't automatically make this one so. However, this complaint doesn't have a whole lot of merit, as it doesn't make one ounce of difference in how enjoyable the experience as a whole should be for you.
Overall, Godchild is equal parts story and character driven, coupled with an art style that's absolutely a joy to behold. But don't let the classification fool you - it's not a romance for the most part. If you're into horror, mystery, early 20th century aristocratic London, or manga as a whole, Godchild is definitely worth picking up and intently flipping through.