January 4, 2008
This was in a big group of remainders we got in at work recently. Unfortunately, this was the only Tokyopop manga I could save from the bargain table. I wouldn’t have read it otherwise, since I’m not a big fan of Mitsukazu Mihara.
I’m glad I did wind up with this though, because it is nonsense of the type I like to read. Mostly this has to do with bad English names, which is one of my greatest joys in life, but it also succeeds at being a really self-aware story that is much less brooding than it could have been. That really surprised me, since I thought that Mihara was the queen of dark, depressing gothic manga.
The story opens when a rather precocious angel decides to shirk her duties in heaven in favor of cleansing souls on Earth. As she descends, we find out her name is… Transylvanian Rose. Transylvanian Rose spots a boy she likes very much and watches as he commits suicide. She decides to keep his soul as a pet, but when she tries to take him back to heaven with her, she realizes he can’t be purified. Apparently, she figures having the boy as her pet is much better than washing the gates of heaven, so she yanks off one of her wings and gives it to the boy so his soul can accompany her.
Because Transylvanian Rose can’t be bothered with her pet’s real name, she calls him Undertaker. While the original intention is for them to purify souls together, Undertaker has little interest in anything other than dying, and he amuses Transylvanian Rose greatly with his numerous attempts at suicide. We find out he has a talent for purifying souls who committed suicide when alive, something no angel can do since the souls will never get to heaven. Undertaker can do it.
There’s a really obvious plot involving Undertaker’s old girlfriend, and lots of tears and singing and a happy ending all around, but the most exciting thing I got from the second half of the manga (not to say it wasn’t entertaining, there’s also a few different angels that try to convince Transylvanian Rose to return to heaven and a lot of other weird stuff going on) was that Undertaker’s real name was… Phonybrian. His mother tried to abort him so she could fit in her wedding dress, and his dad (named Brian) named his only son Phonybrian. Is it sad, or just implausible? It kind of ruined the emotional moment by being just too funny.
There’s plenty of dark and brooding from the Undertaker to make this one-shot gothic enough for those looking for something dark, but I thought the funnier moments were what made it really enjoyable. This wasn’t a case of “so extreme it’s funny,” either, it was aware of the comedy most of the time, and Transylvanian Rose made for a pretty great main character.