Dance in the Vampire Bund, vol. 1

Writer(s): Nozomu Tamaki
Artist(s): Nozomu Tamaki
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
ISBN: 978-1933164809
Price: $9.99
Page count: 192
Year Released: 2008
Status: in print
Original Source: originally published in Japan
Other Collected Edition(s): n/a
Genres: fantasy; horror; manga; romance/relationships; suspense/thriller
Recommended for Fans Of: vampires and werewolves
Possibly Objectionable Material: nudity; violence; coarse language
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Also in This Series: followed by Dance in the Vampire Bund, vol. 2

Plot Summary
Mina Tepes, princess of the vampires, uses her clan's considerable wealth to bribe the Japanese government into allowing her to construct an island in the middle of Tokyo harbor. Then she reveals her existence (as well as the very existence of vampires) to the world. Once the word is out, vampires from all over the world begin migrating to the island (known as "the bund"), which Mina intends to serve as the first full-blown vampire kingdom in the modern world.

As you can imagine, not everyone is happy about this development and someone is plotting to assassinate Mina. Eighteen-year-old werewolf Akira Kaburagi, who pledged his life to her seven years ago, is called upon to serve as the princess's personal bodyguard. As a press conference with the world's media approaches, Akira and Mina's assistant, Vera, must determine who is trying to kill the princess, and why.

My Own 2 Cents
I'll admit it: I'm not a big fan of most manga. There are certain Japanese books I adore (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, primarily) but for the most part I don't enjoy them. Not only do I find the art style unappealing but there's just something about Japanese comics that does not translate well into English. As with the folks who complain that the distinctly Russian idiom present in, for example, Dostoevsky's works has yet to be perfectly translated into English, I think the Japanese idiom is often mistranslated (or simply cannot be accurately translated) into English. Particularly in manga, there are certain exclamations and asides that read as clunky when translated into English.

Dance in the Vampire Bund is no exception. At times the dialogue feels choppy and/or juvenile. It's possible to get used to it but it can be distracting until you find the right rhythm.

One of my other problems with a lot of manga is the disposable nature of it. It's hard to forget that most manga (and there is a lot of it) is cranked out to be read and then promptly forgotten by its readers, who have already moved on to the next story, and the next. Manga is so popular in Japan that there's not even an analogue here in the States. Imagine daytime soap operas, if there were hundreds of them broadcast every day and everyone watched them--not just at home but on the subway, in restaurants, at work, everywhere.

Dance in the Vampire Bund isn't quite that bad; it's beautifully drawn and contains some interesting characters, but even so it's more Spider-Man than Love & Rockets. The action is fast-paced, the humor is light, the relationships are steeped in banter, and the plot reigns supreme. It's the kind of story that is enjoyable while you're reading it, but not particularly memorable. Its conceit (vampires "coming out" to the public, and the consequences of that decision) has been done better in other media (e.g., HBO's True Blood).

But the book's biggest problem is the fact that Mina is (presumably) an ancient vampire trapped in an adolescent body. The stereotype of rampant Japanese child-porn in manga is not helped by the fact that Mina disrobes often in this book. Akira remains a gentleman (so far, anyway), but it doesn't change the fact that Mina looks like a little girl. Honestly, I would have a hard time recommending this book to anyone.