So this wraps up the first part of the Cain Saga, and the first major story arc. It was… it was okay. I think it works really well as a gothic horror story, and it does a good job with atmosphere, and it’s got all the elements to make a good story… but this segment of it somehow just failed for me.
I think the main problem is that there was too many characters (which apparently is the complaint of the day for me, apparently I prefer stories that happen to only one person). There was the girl who Cain had fallen in love with, a girl who looked exactly like her, Jack the Ripper, who turned out to be a minor character we met at the beginning of the story, Dr. Disraeli and Cassian (I always forgot about Cassian until he appeared and I had to think very carefully about who he was), Cain’s fiancée and her two other suitors, her brother, her parents… there was just a long list of people who got drawn into the plot. They all needed to be there, I think, but the fact that the plot did involve every single one of them, and that this secret society was set up involving Cain’s father and Dr. Disraeli which will not really be discussed until Godchild… it was too much. I really liked the fact that there was a Jack the Ripper element, and I liked the fact that somehow Dr. Disraeli was bringing people back from the dead and needed to kill people in order to sustain them, but there was just too much other stuff going on at the same time.
The art is good. I know a lot of people love Kaori Yuki’s art. The characters all look pretty good, and the compositions and flow are all okay, and the clothes the characters sport are wonderful, but I do have trouble telling some of the characters apart. There was an unrelated Cain story in the back of the volume, and even with ample warning, I thought one of the characters was Riff almost all the way through. Some of the females get to looking alike as well, though that was mostly Mary Weather, the fortune teller, and the fortune teller’s maid, who was supposed to look like the fortune teller. There are also some scenes with both Cain and Gilford (I don’t have my volumes with me now to check, but I wasn’t sure if there was some noodley spelling, like Guilford, or if it was actually Gilbert, like the Viz site suggested) where I have trouble differentiating the two.
I don’t know. It’s been awhile since I’ve read this series. I like the characters well enough, but there’s something about Mary and Cain that rubbed me the wrong way in this volume. There was definitely something about almost every single one of the side characters that rubbed me the wrong way as well. Many were a bit too annoying, loud, or over-the-top to fit well into the darker story, though that could just be my preference.
On the other hand, I liked the plot okay. It’s still a bit cloudy and somewhat hard to follow at this point, but it looks like the main plot is tying Jack the Ripper to some sort of… method for keeping the dead alive for purposes not yet specified. The series is quite good at setting a mood, and I liked the stylish way things are done. I also kind of like the social politics that were being played, to some extent, by all the characters. Cain had his engagement because the family wanted to be tied to the title, his fiancé’s suitors wanted to be tied to her family, some people hid their title, Cain’s uncle was worried about what people would think about Cain were he to do silly things, Riff was actually from a middle-class family and was too good to be a butler… things like that all wound up being surprisingly interesting.
I remember a bit about Cain’s father and his family, but I don’t think the story went into too much depth in earlier volumes, so the fact that Cain’s father is still a bit of a mystery is probably fine.
I didn’t really like it, but maybe I’ll get into it with the next volume as the story keeps going.
Moving on in this series, we finally get the beginnings of plot development and a move away from short stories to a series, which is interesting. I assume that we won’t get a return to short stories since the next part is two volumes and the last part is Godchild. I’ll probably wait to read the two-volume Red Ram section until I get the second volume of it, I have a feeling that it’ll have a nasty cliffhanger.
The story wound up being very good. It wasn’t quite self-contained as one of the characters introduced at the very end is apparently the antagonist (or something) in Godchild, so it felt like it was finally getting something started instead of being a finished story, which is fine by me. There was a subplot with Riff through the entire volume that had me very upset until the end. Yuki mentioned she didn’t know why people liked Riff so much, but it’s hard not to when he’s the one that takes care of Cain. The main story also involves vampires, but not really. It was kind of sad, as the two characters introduced wound up being very endearing, and they were discarded in a very Cain Saga-like way. The horror worked well for me, and I was completely fooled by all of the red herrings until the end, so it was kind of neat to have the series of reveals that was set up.
I was still confused in parts though, and the pacing can also be a little strange. One of the characters can’t go out in sunlight, and it’s hard to tell whether it’s daytime, night, or if perhaps it’s just cloudy and said character is strolling with Mary, and the passing of time also didn’t feel right. But these things weren’t enough to ruin it for me, and I still wound up liking this volume a lot.
I don’t know how I feel about the main character, though. He’s pretty clever, and he always finds some way to outsmart whoever the foe is, but he can also be a weepy baby, and he has these moments of emotion which are sometimes embarassing… mostly because he’s slightly too tragic. Repeating the events of “Sound of a Boy Hatching” to one of the characters, you get an idea of how ridiculous it sounds… but hey, it’s kind of a period piece (or not, I’m not too sure about this), maybe these things happened back whenever this is taking place.
This volume manages to keep up the good work as far as entertaining me goes. The title story was by far the best in the volume, it featured the entrance of Riff and went on to explain a lot about the Earl’s family. It’s weird to call him Earl, because really, the only one who deserves that title is Dorian, the Earl of Gloria.
Anyway, we also get the introduction of Merry Weather, who is apparently a main character in Godchild. Her story was slightly nonsensical, I couldn’t quite swallow the immediate grasp of the situation for both of them and the instant forgiveness on her part. Plus, it was silly to follow it up with the title story, which explains that Cain’s father was crazy and apparently only loved his sister. If he only loved his sister, what was this business with Merry’s mother? Urgh. She doesn’t play too big a part, either, so I feel like she was sort of useless and tacked on at this point.
There’s some more gothic horror/murder stories that work out rather nicely, so that’s cool. I could go for some more of this. Maybe we’ll get a little plot with each volume, too. Though Yuki mentions at the end she felt like it was tacked on, I actually quite liked the last story, though it had it’s share of what the hell moments too, in that it was quite convenient that Cain had picked up that identical orphan earlier that day.
Though I have everything published in English by Kaori Yuki, I’ve only read one volume of Angel Sanctuary. That one volume put me off so much that I never read anything by her again. You’ll notice I bought it all for some reason, though. Because I’ve been trying to make amends with my 137 volumes of unread manga, I’ll have to get to her stuff sooner or later, and I thought I’d start with the Cain Saga and then wait until volume 5 came out in a couple months and move onto Godchild.
Forgotten Juliet, the first story, put me off quite a bit once again. It was a Romeo and Juliet kinda story with a gothic twist and a few other things… but there were too many characters, and the story just didn’t draw me in. I felt the bile rise in my throat as I thought of reading 12 more volumes of this, let alone slogging through all 20 volumes of Angel Sanctuary, but the rest of the volume actually won me over.
The next story involves Cain as well, but there are less characters… or maybe the characters are just easier to figure out (I actually think that there were as many characters here as the first, I’m not sure what my beef was with Forgotten Juliet). A simple murder-identity crisis kinda story, I figured out the twist fairly early on, but I liked the story a lot all the same. The other stories in the volume didn’t actually include Cain at all, which was weird, but I liked both of them all the same. “Double” was great, and I also really liked the other story in the volume which involved some sort of youth tonic or something.
So yes, I actually enjoyed this volume okay. Let’s see what the rest of the series has to bring.