Yuri Manga: Tetragrammaton Labyrinth, Volume 1

August 28th, 2007

When people first fall in love, one of the the inevitable feelings they encounter is that if their lover should, for even a second, stop needing them to exist, they might well cease to exist.

Imagine for a second if that were *really* true.

You would be tethered to that person forever. And they would be enslaved to you, or otherwise you could no longer be.

Somehow, it doesn’t sound so much like fun, does it?

In Tetragrammaton Labyrinth Volume 1, Angela is no longer alive, but neither is she dead. As long as her partner, a nun named Meg, needs her, she can remain in existence. If Meg should stop needing Angela, she would cease to exist utterly. But Angela has a need of her own – she wants to die as a human. To that end, she and Meg fight demons who infect and infest humankind in a battle to protect not only all humanity, but Angela’s chance at the death she craves.

The story takes place in Victorian England, but Angela is drawn as a Goth-Loli, and Meg is given rights and responsibilities not usually given to nuns. I particularly love the manga trope of nuns who hear confession, for instance. I’m not a Christian (although I have played Saint George in a mystery play, does that count?) but I know that only priests can hear confessions. And I am also fairly sure that Meg’s sexy nun outfits were bought, not from the convent, but from the local Halloween supply store. ;-) But I digress.

Aside from the religious dissonance, there’s temporal dissonance as well. This is a Victorian England in which occult magick and Big-Ass Guns(TM) coexist. If demons and their ilk didn’t *actually* walk the streets of Victorian London, I’m inured to their proposed existence from the oh-so-many series that include them. ^_^

Because of the existences of the aforementioned demons, B-A Guns and magick, it’s not too much of a surprise that Tetragrammaton Labyrinth is also full of violence and blood. This is your quintessential Victorian Goth-Loli horror manga, baby.

The book, like most of the adaptations by Seven Seas (and thanks once again to Jason and the folks at 7S for providing me with a copy to review!) is done well. The translation feels seamless, and in general, the reproduction is high quality. The fact that the source material is thoroughly and firmly “meh” is not their fault at all.

And therein lies the problem. Tetragrammaton Labyrinth just isn’t a very good story. Sure, there’s lots of action, and violence and some of what passes for plot, but at it’s heart, it’s basically a violent, bloody, string of servicey scenes that barely hold together.

Which brings me to the “Yuri.” I called this a “Yuri” manga in the title of the review, because it is an incontrovertible truth that Meg and Angela are inextricably bound to one another. Especially towards the end, they appear to even show affection for one another. The codependency of their relationship alone is grounds enough to call this relationship “lesbian.” ^_^ But with one being a nun and the other an undead pre-pubescent child, that sort of makes the relationship thing moot. So, really, the Yuri here is an implied fetish, no more. There’s no way to know if they are “in love” with one another and I’m fairly certain that the author is more interested in drawing Angela without underwear than answering that question, so don’t expect the Yuri to be more than two females draped over one another. If that’s enough for you, well then, enjoy! ^_^

Ratings:

Art – 6
Characters – 6
Story – 7
Yuri – 2
Service – 4

Overall – 5

Considering that I had read this manga years ago in the original Japanese and basically dismissed it as tripe, I was surprised that I didn’t hate it in English. Is it high art? Nope. (Quick, name three manga that are. Exactly.) But since Scape-God never went past one volume, this ought to fill yours (and my) random fake-Yuri with scads of violence and blood needs for a while. ;-)

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2 Responses

  1. Fuyumi says:

    I thought that the premise for the series was interesting, but that the execution was fairly poor – and fetish nuns annoy me a bit, honestly.

  2. Anonymous says:

    TL is is personally one of my favorite Yuri manga (could just be where I am in my life right now).

    I love horror, so all that was not a bother (just sort of wish the sisters would tone down their “maintenance”).

    The art work was so-so (better than some).

    This story is not one you should read if you’re looking for a super romantic story line but at the same time give it a shot.

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