Are you frightened, Jenny?
I don’t know. Should I be?
As one of the dozens of vampire manga that flourished during the post-Twilight boom, THE REFORMED does little to stand out amongst its peers. But when said peers lower the bar of expectations so badly to begin with, it’s hard not to look fondly at a title that actually manages to be a competent, if predictable, story.
The book is a standalone that owes its roots to stories like INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, and most of the focus is on the horror of being a blood-thirsty, if unwilling, murderer. The story follows Giancarlo, an aristocratic vampire who ends up following in love with one of his intended victims. While Giancarlo struggles with his bloodthirsty nature and desire to be with a mortal, a series of vampiric murders of local prostitutes has set the local police’s best detective on Giancarlo’s trail. In other words, it’s literally any vampire romance published in the last decade. Minus the sparkles.
Unlike many other vampire manga, the world of THE REFORMED is very adult, and doesn’t shy away from depicting death and blood. Its world, meanwhile, blends the Victorian gothic and hard punk aesthetic. Anzu is a fantastic artist, sadly one who’s only known in the mainstream for being the artist behind the “X-Men: Misfits” manga, which suffered from such rampant piracy that it was cancelled after one volume and basically killed her career as an artist. Either way, here she balances the dark grittiness of the crime drama with the shojo aspects of Giancarlo’s romance, all while giving the world a unique touch to behold. The result is dark and gorgeous, certainly worth buying for the art alone.
It’s a touch ironic given that the story is written by Christoper Hart, infamous for his many, many terribad “How to Draw Manga” books.
THE REFORMED is a serviceable vampire story, and certainly worth a look if you need something to scratch your inner vampire itch. There’s something in it for everyone, be it the art, dark romance, or crime drama at its core.