by Nari Kusakawa; adaptation by Tony Ogasawara
published by DC/CMX Manga; $9.99 US
Schoolgirl Sahara stumbles across demon boy Gertrude as he’s recovering from a battle. He’s a patchwork, assembled out of other parts and magically enlivened by a recipe, and he is searching for the instructions that brought him to life so he can destroy them.
He’s the usual type of outsider in this kind of manga fantasy, forced into human society due to his quest but not very familiar with the niceties. Sahara tries to kill him before nursing him back to consciousness, demonstrating her spunky attitude. He protects her, and she becomes his first friend.
I read through this volume looking for something special, something that made the story or art stand out in the ever-increasing manga sea, but I didn’t notice much that would stick with me. Various demons show up and are fought or sent away, and the two discover a family connection between Sahara and the missing recipe.
The story combines comedy, fantasy, romance, horror, fighting, and tradition in one big stew. That’s a good thing if you like the variety, with the story skipping from style to style; not so good if you’re looking for more focused genre work.
The only thing I thought twice about was the way Gertrude reacts during the lunar cycle: he becomes more violent, he loses control, he feels miserable and looks different, (because a mysterious power leaches out through his hair, changing its color). In other words, Gertrude gets PMS. It’s just an excuse for Sahara to let Gertrude know that she’ll care for him whatever happens, though.
I know CMX had problems with its trade dress making its books look all too similar, but I think they over-reacted a little too much in the opposite direction, with this title having little to make it stand out visually. I also wasn’t much impressed by the newsprint-like paper. It’s not a bad book, just not very memorable or distinctive.