Many of you know Kakinouchi Narumi’s work, even if you don’t know you know it. Vampire Princess Miyu (both TV and OAV,) on DVD and Juline and Shaolin Sisters in manga, have made it to English. In Japanese she’s done a great number of series, including the obscure Utahime Fight!, which I reviewed back in 2005 and the art for the Case Files of Yakushiji Ryouko (薬師寺涼子の怪奇事件簿), which I am currently reading, having gotten more volumes at Book-Off in Tokyo (and my gosh, if there was the least little bit of Yuri in it, I would be reviewing it here so fast it would make your head spin!)
But what Kakinouchi-sensei is best known for is Vampire stories. Along with Miyu, you’ll find Vampire Princess Yui, and Dahlia the Vampire in her bibliography. And as much as vampires rarely do it for me, I love the hell out of Kakinouchi-sensei’s vampires. Which brings me to the subject of today’s review, Kakinouchi-sensei’s newest series, done in conjunction with her husband Hirano Toshiki, Vampire Princess. (吸血姫 – ヴァンパイア・プリンセス)
Have I ever told you about my Yuridar? I have ridiculous Yuridar. I can stand in front of packed shelves of books and reach out and pull a few off and pretty much guaranteed, they’ll have some Yuri in them. (This works for other things too, like always knowing when there’s book by T.E. Lawrence in a store.) I saw this book all over Tokyo, but kept resisting it, until the pressure became too much and I caved. So very, very glad I did.
In a small town in the late Meiji period, in a girls’s school, a young girl named Sakura is drawn into the mystery and horror that is the life of her classmate Yuu. Yuu, it turns out, is a vampire and Sakura becomes her servant and partner in her complicated life.
Like all of Kakinouchi’s work, the setting is sparse, but clothing, hair and movements are dramatic, with great sweeping lines that fill panels and pages. Also in keeping with her style, all the females are well-put together, and the vampires are seductive and beautiful in their unworldiness, without being shiny or idealized. It would be very easy to read Yuu as simply a member of Japan’s nobility, using and discarding commoners as she needs. However, there’s something more than just base need in Yuu’s relationship to Sakura – and it is this “something more” that comes so close to being Yuri. Many of Kakinouchi’s Vampire Princesses seem to ride that line between feeding/seducing that Bram Stoker was trying to gross us out with, but only succeeded in making vampires cool and sexy, instead. ^_^ Yuu is both cool and sexy and Sakura is a (mostly) willing partner.
In a world that uses Twilight as a benchmark for vampires, I’m all for Yuu’s classic inhuman gaze and the sweeping movements of her kimono.
Art – 9, but I’m a Kakinouchi fangirl, YMMV
Story – 7 It’s vampires, there’s really not much else you can do with that
Characters – 7 Same
Yuri – 5, it’s all vampire feeding stuff, but still, sexy is sexy
Loser FanBeing – 5
Overall – 8
I’ll definitely be getting more of this series, and hoping that one day she just jumps the fence and our Vampire Princess and her girl live happily *ever* after.