Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Millennium Snow, vol. 2

The story: Chiyuki is a 17-year-old girl who has recently recovered from a lifelong problem with her heart, thanks to her vampiric friend Toya. While Chiyuki and Toya are growing closer, Toya still refuses to admit his desire to be more than friends. Good-natured, determined girl that she is, Chiyuki decides to stay by Toya's side no matter what. Meanwhile, werewolf Satsuki is just as adamant about his love of Chiyuki, making Toya jealous along the way. In this volume, the trio goes on a trip to snow-covered mountains and uncover a scary mystery while they're at it. Later, Chiyuki's cousin Keigo makes an appearance, surprised to find that she's found new friends while he was abroad.

Reaction: Ah, I loved the romantic entanglements between this odd threesome! While Toya tries his best to hide his feelings, they can't help but come through and I can't say I didn't enjoy watching him "squirm" in his own way. The mysterious story in the first three chapters of this volume was well done, keeping my interest much more than I would have expected. Lastly, Keigo's reaction to Chiyuki's and Toya's unique relationship was sad to watch, but Chiyuki's reaction was really surprising and shows just how deep her love, understanding and tolerance extend.

Deep thoughts: When the trio get lost in the mountains, they come upon a house that hasn't changed in 200 years. It reminded me of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, where Gray sold his soul in order to stay ever-beautiful, just as in the portrait painted of him. As he committed sin after sin, the portrait is disfigured. Much like that gothic tale of horror, the house the characters inhabit in this volume is mysteriously in the same shape it was two centuries ago. While, at first glance, eternal youth and frozen time would be an amazing gift, this gift also has a downside. And it is this same downside that stops Toya from sharing the next millennium with Chiyuki.

Artwork: Bisco Hatori's artwork is easy to recognize here, as it employs the same style seen in Ouran High School Host Club. It's a bit less refined here, but still unmistakably Hatori. Her character designs, which could so easily replicate that of the characters from her other series, are different here. Of all the characters, I have to admit that I have a big soft spot for the transformations of Toya's servant, Yamimaru. In one, he appears as a young boy, in another, he's a tall and beautiful, gothic-styled man -- making him even taller than Toya (which annoys Toya to no end)!

The verdict: Highly recommended. This volume really helped this series grow on me and it's a shame that Hatori hasn't had a chance to return to this story. While there's speculation that Ouran High School Host Club may be coming its end in Japan within the next year, I can only hope that this talented shojo mangaka will return to this tale of eternal life and love, so that I can watch Toya finally give in to his love for Chiyuki. Millennium Snow is available in the U.S. from Viz.

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