Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Poe Clan Vol. 1 – review

Author & Illustrator: Moto Hagio

Translation: Rachel Thorn

Published: 2019 (Hardback English translation)

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: The Poe Clan: a race of undead that feeds on the energy of the living, whiling away the centuries in a village of roses where time and geography have no meaning.

A brother and sister, Edgar and Marybelle, are initiated into the clan too young and, unless a wooden stake or a silver bullet should lead to their demise, are doomed to live for eternity, trapped forever on the brink of adulthood.

Created by a pioneer of the shojo/shonen-ai genres, The Poe Clan is a groundbreaking series originally released in the 1970s, published here in English for the first time.

The review
: Seen as an early 70s shōjo manga – a manga aimed at young girls – this actually was a winner of awards for both that genre of manga and as shōnen which is manga aimed at boys. However, what it actually is, in my view, is a melodramatic gothic composition that takes quite a sophisticated look at emotion by concentrating both on the vampanellas, as the vampires are called, and also by looking at the lives they touch not only directly but via familial/generational lines.

The primary character is Edgar and, as the manga moves through time, his sister Marybelle and friend Alan. These characters are all teen (when mutated into vampanellas), turned too young by circumstance, and the manga was recommended by Leila who pointed out that the series, which began in 1972, contained gender fluidity, a queer viewpoint and vampires trapped in a teen age before Interview with the Vampire, indeed she suggested that it was Anne Rice before Anne Rice.

The vampanellas are primarily energy drinkers, though they do this through the medium of blood. They do not have to bite, but draw this through finger to skin contact, leaving just a faint bruise. One interesting aspect of lore was their ability to be seen in mirrors – but they have to consciously will their reflections to appear.

The English language volume is magnificent, an embossed hardback book that is just shy of 500 pages. The illustrations as dreamy as the almost faery realm that they sometimes inhabit – the village of Poe, a rose festooned place set out of time.

This is a remarkable first volume and worth the time of those who appreciate manga. 9 out of 10 and my thanks to Sarah for giving it to me as a Christmas present.

In Hardback @ Amazon US

In Hardback @ Amazon UK

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