Saturday, March 7, 2015

Manga Review: Millenium Snow

Following my venture into macabre/horror manga, I decided to go back to my comfort zone. It's not that I don't enjoy manga with a more serious tone to it - I enjoy it very much, but I have a long list of shoujo manga I want to read and I would rather knock out these shorter series now rather than start a longer series from a different genre. >.< Anyways, a manga series that has been on my list for some time is "Millennium Snow." I have wanted to read this manga since high school, but I quickly learned that it was incomplete; only two volumes were published and the author, Bisco Hatori, had stated that it was not completed but she planned to eventually finish it. So, I decided not to read it, because I didn't want to read an incomplete story.

Fast forward 6-7ish years and the series has been completed. Altogether, the series is 4 volumes long. It's a very quick read, so for anyone wanting a quick shoujo manga fix, this is a good series. However, overall, I would say this series is not one that stays with you; it's likely a story that I'll forget over time. I found some of the characters to be somewhat shallow and I felt while reading that the author herself knew how she wanted it to end (c'mon, from the first 2 chapters, we already know how it's going to end), but didn't quite know how to get there. 

So, Millennium Snow follows a high school girl named Chiyuki, who has a bad heart condition and is expected to die at any moment. One day, she meets a boy named Touya who has a bat for a pet. A talking bat, no less. Eventually, Chiyuki learns that Touya is a vampire (duh) and that when vampires turn 18 (oh look at that, Touya is 18!) they have to choose a human partner to be with. Essentially, the vampire is able to feed on the human's blood and in exchange, the human is granted a lifespan equal to that of a vampire, 1000 years. So, since Chiyuki is dying, she asks Touya to choose her. However, Touya is repelled by the idea, telling her that he hates blood and that he also hates humans. He tells her humans are weak and that he wants nothing to do with them. Touya would much rather be alone for 1000 years than be with a "stupid" human. Chiyuki is devastated and this triggers a seizure that almost kills her. She is only saved by Touya, who allows her to drink some of his blood that will lengthen her lifetime a bit. From then on, Touya watches over Chiyuki, hoping that she will survive and slowly falling in love with her.

So, as you can tell, Millennium Snow has all the classic shoujo elements. A love triangle is thrown in there at some point as well. What is really interesting to note is that the drawing style changes drastically between the first two and the last two volumes. You can even tell by looking at the covers along the side of this post. The first two volumes feature an art style that doesn't make much use of shading or screentones. Males and females alike have awkward proportions and sometimes a panel will have so many things going on, I had to go back and read it twice to make sure I got everything. The final two volumes feature much cleaner, crisper drawings with abundant use of shading and screentones. Proportions are muuuch better and the flow of the panels cleaner as well. Overall, I prefer the formatting and drawing style of the final two volumes.

Plotwise, the author did try to give us some depth to each character. For Touya she introduced his grandpa. For Chiyuki, we met her cousin Kei and for Satsuki, we met her grandma. This was nice and all, but I felt like we, as readers could have used a bit more. I also didn't like how Satsuki became near nonexistent in the last two volumes where he was poised to have a pretty big role from then on. I don't know, I think I would have added 2 more volumes to this series. I would have Touya spent more time speaking with Chiyuki about what it would mean to choose her as his partner and then, instead of waiting until Chiyuki is almost dying, have Touya come to the decision to make Chiyuki his partner when he is ready, not when she needs it the most. Also, I would have liked to see the good-bye that Chiyuki, Touya and Satsuki give to their friend Kaede, the only one of them who doesn't get to live 1000 years. She becomes part of their gang in the final two volumes, but then is largely forgotten. I would have liked Bisco to have used Kaede's mortality to act as a counterweight to everyone else's long lives. It would have been nice to have a scene of them saying good-bye to her in her own age and the weight of mortality hanging on them until they decide to head off together once again for more adventures. I feel like that would have brought the original idea behind this story full circle.

Overall, the manga didn't quite tie up everything as it should have and while there is some depth to the characters they ultimately come out as characters that fit perfectly into the typical shoujo manga mold. I felt like a lot more could have been done with this story. I would say I enjoyed the story but it was a "meh" series for me. It won't be one I will be picking up again.

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