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|▪||FORMAT:||JAPANESE / B&W|
|▪||REVIEWED BY:||CHRISTOPHER SEAMAN|
Life is precious, and love is fragile. If you are a destiny thief, life is the source of energy you need to survive your eternal existence. Love is a needless diversion, a frustrating emotion that only makes you weak like the humans you consume. But what if, despite your power, you fall in love anyway? What if that love is ripped away, and you are left to live forever alone? MILLION TEARS, written and illustrated by Yuana Kazumi, sets to answer these questions in a short (two volume) manga that wastes no time getting to the heart of the story and running with it. Kazumi has created a work in the process that succeeds in engaging you from the first frame and guiding you swiftly through the story to the last beautiful images.
Set in modern day Japan, the first volume introduced us to Hiromu, a high school student who suddenly realized people he knew were disappearing and quickly found out they were being erased by a destiny thief named Vermillion. Hiromu himself was a destiny thief named Glorious, who consumed the identity of Hiromu to hide from the pain of losing the woman he loved, named Valeriana, in a terrible accident. As it turned out, Valeriana was still alive, but like a doll who showed no reaction to the presence of her love, Glorious- or as he was before then- Hirokazu. What happened to make Valeriana this way is revealed in the second half of the manga, and we learn more about the terrible fate she suffered at the hands of her people many years before. Tragic both in life and death, she becomes the focus of Hiromi’s life once again after Vermillion re-awakens his memories. We see flashbacks that fill in all the blanks in the plot development and the memory of Hiromu. We also see the return of Hiromu’s girlfriend from the first volume, setting up the action that will bring the story to its emotionally charged conclusion.
MILLION TEARS is gorgeously drawn, with characters that express emotions with wide-eyed wonder filling frame after frame. Once again, watercolor images fill the jacket and we are left wondering how much more exotic the manga might have been if the whole story was illustrated this way. The line work and toning, as it is, remains lovely, and for once, the slashing frame composition that makes for annoying reading in so many other comics, actually works in this one as we jump from place to place and time to time. There are places when it gets to be a little confusing. However, as the intent of the author is to enhance the mystery as long as possible, this may be part of a larger plan on the part of the creator.
The plot itself is engaging, but not so frightening or mysterious that it would keep you awake at night. The tone is darker than the first volume, and the pain of loss is more acutely felt among the characters- both human and destiny thief. Ultimately, this story seems to be about finding peace and reconciliation in one’s life as anything else. During the flashback sequence to explain Valeriana’s mental state, one character who is spared being absorbed by Vermillion is told it is better that he should continue to live and suffer in this world, and that erasing one such as him would be too kind. Ouch! It is interesting to see how the judges are themselves judged in the story, and how once their existence is revealed they are no longer nearly as powerful as they might have been. It would seem that the writer had taken to heart the cliché that no one is truly dead so long as we remember them, and by denying these destiny thieves their cover and by remembering their prey, we are ultimately undermining their very existence. Very interesting, yes?
This manga contains a brief synopsis of the story and bios of the main characters at the beginning to get new readers up to speed. It ends with a short postscript by author/illustrator Yuana Kazumi thanking everyone for their patronage in reading this story. Clearly a lot of energy- both creative and emotional- went into the writing and drawing of this manga and it is not hard to feel it through the heartfelt gratitude expressed in this note. Ads for other Tokyopop releases are also included.
MILLION TEARS- takes love and loss across time and continents in a warm, yet hauntingly tragic tale that is filled with heartfelt emotions and utterly beautiful artwork. It is one conclusion to one wondrous story you won’t want to miss.