Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Orochi: Blood by Kazuo Umezu

Orochi: Blood

Two sisters. One perfect. The other... not. What begins as a dark tale of sibling rivalry turns into something all together different when a young girl named Orochi - who possesses a strange supernatural power - enters the picture. What is the secret of the Monzen family? It is only years later, when Orochi, in an unusual form, revisits the sisters in their adulthood that the secret is revealed, and along with it, the true nature of these blood sisters. Capturing both the wonder and terror of childhood with haunting and beautiful art, Orochi: Blood is a Gothic masterpiece from one of the all-time great manga storytellers, Kazuo Umezu.

Pages: 224 pages (Paperback)
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC; 1st edition
Released: September 5, 2002

Before this review starts, I have to mention that this is the only book that has been translated in the Orochi series. Sadly, this is also the last book in the series. Also, this manga is read from Left to Right, instead of the traditional manga format of Right to Left. This isn't that big of a deal, but I was thrown off a bit when I went to the back of the book and noticed that I was at the end instead of the beginning.

Anywho, here is the review. Orochi is an immortal being that is fascinated by the lives of Lisa and Kazusa Monzen. Kazusa, the older of the two sisters, is the clear favourite in the family and after years of Lisa being compared to her beautiful, intelligent, all round amazing sister, she becomes a recluse. Despite the difference in upbringing, the two are close and Lisa would do anything for her sister.

Even though Orochi is the main character in this series, it's clear that the story is about Lisa and her struggles as being the black sheep of the family. The story follows Lisa being cast aside as a child, to her awkward years as a teen, to her marriage life, to when she's an old woman. It isn't pretty and you quickly sympathize with her and want her to succeed in life, but of course things don't always work out in the end.

The artwork is great and I did enjoy the story, but I do have some issues that prevented me giving this a glowing review. Lisa is fleshed out and the reader gets a good sense of who she is and why she does what she does. Not much is known about Kazusa, but it works because the story is about Lisa.

However, the main character of this series and this volume is Orochi and we don't know very much about her. I'm guessing that this is due to the fact that this is the last volume in the series.



This isn't my first time reading Orochi, but I was disappointed in this collection. One of the things that I like about this series is that Orochi intends to do good and help people, but she's too naive in her thinking. She doesn't understand that people are complex and what she expects to happen sometimes back fires and leads to horrible consequences.

Another thing I like about her is her curious nature. She's interested in people's lives and becomes emotional invested in them, even though she may not watch everything that has happened she does wonder about them and eventually goes to check up on the humans she's been watching.

But because this is the last volume and the only one out in the Orochi series spanning 5 or 6 volumes, then you don’t really get a good sense of her character or her motivations. She’s just there, which really doesn’t do justice to her character.

I don’t know if putting out the final volume out first was the smartest thing to do, but this was a good story in its own right. I just wish the other volumes were released to so we can get a full sense of Orochi’s world.

3.5 stars

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