You Higuri – CMX – 2006 – 10 volumes
Hmm… as long as it had been since I’d read this series, and as long as it took me to get my bearings in this volume, I still kinda liked it. True, it’s got a lot of the flaws of an early work by the artist, and of 90s fantasy to boot, but it’s still a fantasy story with demons in it, and I have a special soft spot for those.
Hmm… this volume just seemed mostly to be about Tetius self-destructing and the castle falling down around the characters. Tetius, of course, has a master plan to get Laures back in the demon world, and in order to do that, he had to double-cross both Laures and the crazy and powerful Zadie. Zadie doesn’t like much of anything that’s not all about destroying stuff, and he especially doesn’t like being betrayed by wet blankets like Tetius.
Meanwhile, Rodderick breaks into the castle to get Hilda back, and fights a variety of battles along the way. Tetius tries to intervene at one point, and Cheryl, the only person that really loves Tetius, gets caught in the crossfire. After that, a gigantic plant consumes the castle and all the characters have to fight a series of battles to escape.
I like how devoted everyone is to one another. Laures would do anything for Hilda, Tetius would do anything for Laures, Rodderick would do anything for Hilda, Cheryl does some disturbing things out of love for Tetius, even Zadie’s not immune. While most of what’s going on feels a little generic, I can’t help but get caught up a little in things.
I don’t like it well enough to rush out and track down the final six volumes, but I’ll likely pick them up when I get a few other things cleared off my plate. It’s definitely only for hardcore shoujo fantasy fans, though, as most others will likely be a little bored and lost.
You Higuri – CMX – 2006 – 10 volumes
You know, this series is very slow, but I do enjoy the old-school flavor. It’s got a certain mid-90s melodrama to it, the sense of self-sacrifice, the wide bishounen shoulders, the cackling bad guys, the spirited damsels in distress. I’m not hanging on the character’s every word, but I do enjoy this type of story.
Not much happened that we weren’t already told of last time. Roddrick finds out that his small companion is the daughter of the divine spirit of the Azelle. I thought he might be more happy about this, since that meant his mission has a divine cast to it, but there’s the problem of her killing the soul of the little boy she possessed and trying to kill Roddrick’s lady love. Roddrick doesn’t like her much, and neither does Roddrick’s companion.
Meanwhile, Zadei and the Count go through with their plan to capture Laures, and they do it by capturing Hilda. Lots of hand-wringing during the second half of the volume as Laures is tortured at the hands of the Count and Hilda is kept captive in order to keep Laures under control. There is a little bit of a twist towards the end in regards to the Count, and I’m curious to see how that works itself out. Added drama points for the fact that Hilda’s sick friend shows up at the demon-infested castle. She finds Teitus, who seems nice enough for a demon, and befriends him quickly. He’s the biggest hand-wringer of all, as he seems willing to help this friend, assists Zadei in everything that he does, and seems completely devoted to Laures.
Yeah, I’ll keep reading. It’s dated, but interesting, and I think I’ll probably get caught up in all the fantasy-esque drama if I give it a couple more volumes.
You Higuri – CMX – 2005 – 10 volumes
I was surprised by how much more I enjoyed the story in this volume. I think that’s due in large part to the fact the plot moved away from two lovers fighting over a beautiful girl and towards psychopaths bent on destruction, with a nice little love story thrown in. The romance elements are too generic to stand on their own, so a little chaos does the story good.
Strangely, after the first few pages, the warrior of the Azelle disappears, though the deities of the Azelle hang around to play a little more havoc. Hilda is still a major player, though it becomes more about her struggle against the bad guys and Laures being the demon king than it does about anything romantic. Hilda has to struggle against various bad guys, including an insane count that likes to collect “beautiful” things, apparently to gut them and hang them from his ceiling. He has his sights set on Hilda, but changes his mind when he sees Laures. Conveniently, Laures’ arch-rival has been released from hell, and he and the count team up in an unholy alliance to destroy the city and collect Laures.
Zadei literally comes from nowhere, and the spiteful reason for his release had me laughing. He’s really coarse and doesn’t fit at all with all the other ladies and gentlemen, which makes all the horrible things he does that much more absurd. I was happy to see the count, who only gets more and more genuinely disturbing the more he appears, and I was happy to see him take an interest in Laures. As it stands now, it seems like he has no chance of “collecting” the supreme ruler of Hell or whatever, but I’d like to think that somehow happens down the road, only because I need to see more of that count work his creepy magic. The hilarious union of the count and Zadei is a huge plus story-wise, too.
Basically, things that are a whole lot more interesting than Laures’ love for Hilda happen in this volume, and I am much pleased. Again, I am easily pleased by demons and any story having to do with them, and I’ll admit that this still isn’t anywhere near an A+ story, but it is more entertaining in this volume… in a shallow way, at least. I am looking forward to more at this point.
You Higuri – CMX – 2005 – 10 volumes
My love for Ludwig II has prompted me to go back and look at some of Higuri’s other series. Perhaps I should have started with Gorgeous Carat, but I love demons, so Seimaden was the way to go.
This is more or less her debut work (there’s a prequel volume floating around that looks like it came out the same year), and you can more or less tell. You can also tell that this was a product of the early 90s, though the art has aged extremely well over the years. There are illustration techniques that date it (some of the poses, free-floating “shoujo” panels, the fact that Laures is gigantic compared to everyone else), but as a fantasy series, it doesn’t really have any story elements that date it.
It’s an awful lot like RG Veda. Higuri’s style is very much like CLAMP in this work (at this point, they were working for the same publisher and in some of the same magazines), and RG Veda’s fantasy themes, costumes, and fatalistic love triangles are all in here. RG Veda was in the middle of its run when this started, but I don’t know how popular it was. Popular enough to replicate? Probably not, especially with CLAMP on board at the same publisher. I think big romantic fantasy like this was just popular in the early 90s. I have very little evidence to back this guess aside from RG Veda, Seimaden, Basara and Fushigi Yugi, but the latter two were very popular.
And after all that explanation, all I’m going to talk about is how I was disappointed that this suffered from debut series problems. I love demons, and Laures is a kind of king demon, but not even he is saving this first volume for me. There is a very stale setup involving a heroine named Hilda who has lost her memories, a dark-haired bishounen who is her protector, and a “good guy” that shows up later to “save” her from the dark-haired bishounen, who is apparently evil but doesn’t seem like it. They all have a past, and the dark-haired bishounen (Laures) has done some bad things, but it’s pretty obvious he’s not completely evil. Most everything else, including Hilda’s memories, are left a big mystery to be filled in later. Mysteriously, the summary on the back of the volume gives most of that mystery away.
It’s pretty bland, but it’s not good form to blame the first volume of a fantasy series for a boring set-up. Especially a romance, and especially an older series. I picked up the first three, so I’m going to hold off on judgement until I finish the third. We’ll see how much the characters and plot develop by then.
…I was disappointed surprised that there wasn’t even a hint of BL in this first volume, especially given Higuri’s other work. I had to slash Laures and Roddrick in my head. This tells me I am further down the fujoshi road than I care to admit.