Sunday, October 29, 2017

Vampires in Manga

Vampires in Japanese manga definitely indulge in clannish behavior. Although there are loners, a la Angel, generally speaking vampires and vampire hunters arrive on the scene replete with a family-reunion size amount of baggage: "Here's my Uncle Harold. Here's my Aunt Vivian. Here's my cousin who strangles rabbits. Here's my uncle's nephew's cousin once removed who lived during the Reign of Terror."

Cyborgs, vampires AND
nineteenth-century dress.
Contemporary Japanese vampires don't differ tremendously in character from their Western versions, being as prone to sheer violence, angst, uncertainty, and double-personalities as their Western versions. Even more than the Western versions, they seem almost entirely associated with steampunk.

The steampunk milieu is typical of vampires in general (Bram Stoker continues to haunt us), but it has a solid foundation in current manga from Black Butler--which includes the demon/occasionally pointy-toothed Sebastian--to The Case Study of Vanitas, Bloody Mary and Vassalord.

A fun exception is My Pathetic Vampire Life in which the narrator, a vampire endlessly repeating high school as required by law (everyone knows he is a vampire) tries, for once, to fit in with the other students. The setting is entirely contemporary and the first volume at least has a somewhat early Whedon flavor. In one scene, the protagonist is invited to go clothes shopping. Thinking that the other students will behave in the store the same way they behave in school, he shows up expecting high fives and groupie behavior. Instead, he finds them wandering about browsing separating. He realizes that he has more in common with them as individuals than he realized.

Good fantasy--especially good vampire fantasy--shows us more of who we are.