Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Soulless: The Manga

This past week at Barnes & Noble, I picked up the first volume of Soulless, the graphic novel based on Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate steampunk series.

The story centers around well-endowed (in more ways than one) Alexia Tarabotti. In addition to having to deal with the public's belief that she is well beyond the marrying age (she's 26), she is also a Preternatural, a being with the ability to nullify the powers of both werewolves and vampires. One night she is attacked by a rogue vampire but manages to kill him with her brass-weighted parasol. The creation of new blood-suckers is strictly regulated, and no one can account for this new one, so this presents a mystery. Where did he come from? And why are werewolves around London disappearing? To find the answers, Alexia teams up with alpha wolf--and potential romantic interest--Lord Maccon, as well as the extremely effeminate vampire lord Akeldama. Action and comedy ensue as these unlikely allies battle both bad guys and sexual tension.

I haven't read any of the novels this is based on, so I'm just going to treat this as a stand-alone story. Despite being classified as a manga, it is in Western left-to-right format rather than the Eastern right-to-left. However,  the visual gags have a definite anime style (for example, characters will get comically deformed when they yell at each other). I'm no expert on drawing, but I find the art style of this book very appealing. The artist, REM, is unquestionably good at drawing beautiful women, and the cover illustration (see below) is really slick.

I'm honestly not entirely sure who this book is catered to. Alexia's cleavage is front and center throughout, yet there is also female fan service. I guess that just means Soulless can appeal to anyone. There isn't anything too graphic in here, though; it's rated "Older Teen."

Overall, I feel the fusion of steampunk and manga worked out really well here. They are two great tastes that taste great together.

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