Canon

April 3, 2010 dreamkaleidoscope
Tags: , , , ,

Originally posted on Mar. 11, 2010 at LiveJournal.

TITLE: Canon
AUTHOR/MANGAKA: Chika Shiomi
PUBLISHER: CMX
RATING: Teen (13+)
CATEGORY: Shoujo
NUMBER OF VOLUMES: 4
SCORE: 9 (Great)
RECOMMENDED FOR FANS OF: Chika Shiomi (mangaka of Yurara, Rasetsu, and Night of the Beasts), supernatural, violence, romance

I am not a fan of vampires. They just aren’t my thing. Don’t get me wrong, I can understand the appeal — I love sexy pale-skinned, angst-ridden guys as well as the next woman — but the blood-sucking part just squicks me out. Big time. However, I am a fan of mangaka Chika Shiomi, so I put my general squick of vampires aside to check out her debut series, Canon.

The title character of the story is a sixteen year old girl who is the sole survivor of a massacre that left all thirty-nine of her classmates dead. During the attack, she was forced to drink the blood of their killer, a pureblood vampire by the name of Rod. This turns Canon into a “servant” vampire — meaning a human who was turned into a vampire by another vampire. But Canon isn’t like most vampires — she refuses to drink human blood and uses her powers to turn other servant vampires back into humans, all the while hunting for the vampire who killed her friends in order to enact her revenge.

Six months after the attack, she meets another vampire by the name of Sakaki, who also wants to kill Rod. Handsome Sakaki is a “half-breed”: his father was a pureblood vampire, but his mother was human. It is vampiric law that all half-breed vampires must be destroyed. The purebloods fear half-breeds because they possess very strong powers and are not harmed by the sun, so Rod is sent to kill Sakaki and his parents. Sakaki, however, manages to survive the attack and vows to avenge his parents’ deaths. To do that, he requires Canon’s help.

One thing that really impressed me with this series is how genuinely unpredictable it is. You may have formed some idea of how the rest of the plot will play out from reading the brief summary I gave above, but I can pretty much guarantee you that you are wrong. By the second volume, almost everything you thought you knew up to that point is incorrect. I wish I could elaborate further, but I don’t want to spoil the surprises in store. Just know that this is not a story that is as straightforward as it seems.  

The characters are also not always who they seem at first sight. Again, I don’t want to delve into too much explanation in fear of spoilers, but I will mention Fui. I love Fui. He’s probably my favorite character in the series, and get this — he’s a talking vampire crow. Yes, a crow. Granted, due to my lack of knowledge of the vampire genre, I may be too impressed by something that is relatively common, but I have never come across any sort of vampiric animal before. (Well, besides bats, of course, which this series has as well.) I, for one, thought it was an interesting and original idea.

And Fui himself is a hoot. As Canon’s sarcastic, wise-cracking partner (of sorts), he warns Canon when there are vampires nearby with his vampire-enhanced sense of smell. He also acts as somewhat of an advisor to Canon, being more knowledgeable about the vampire culture than she is, but admittedly, it’s rare that she actually takes his advice, which often goes against her morals. Fui, unlike Canon, doesn’t see anything wrong with drinking blood, and he often complains about having to follow Canon’s rules. Still, despite their sometimes rocky relationship, it’s clear that Canon and Fui care about each other very much.

Canon is quite the character herself — very strong-willed and determined, and she can certainly hold her own in a fight. I just wish we knew more about her life before she was turned into a vampire. We know that she spent a lot of time in the hospital because of some unnamed, incurable disease, but no mention is ever given to her family. Is she an orphan? It never says, but I have to assume so, given that after she “disappears” from regular society, no one seems that concerned about finding her. Little attention is given to Canon’s dead classmates, either. Understandable, perhaps, since they were killed before the story begins, but only one (Akiko, the sister of a photographer who appears in the first chapter) is mentioned by name. I would have liked to see more flashbacks to Canon’s school days; I think it would have helped to understand just how much Canon’s friends meant to her and made her need for revenge for their deaths more personal. 

Artwise, Canon is quite well-drawn for a debut series. I mentioned in my review of Night of the Beasts how Shiomi had a tendency to draw short-haired women like men, and it’s the same here with a female vampire named Machua, who even dresses in menswear-style clothes. If not for the lipstick and heels, I would have sworn she was male. Aside from that complaint, though, I think I may actually prefer the style of Canon over those of her later works. As an extra, there’s also a colored version of some of the chapter title pages in the front of each volume, something I always love. All four are beautifully done.

I think any fan of vampire fiction would really like Canon. Even those who don’t normally like the genre — like me — may find themselves won over by the intriguing plot, despite all the violence and gore (of which there is plenty; why is this only rated “Teen”?) It’s just plain good, and I highly recommend it.

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