Black Rose Alice vol. 1& 2 – Setona Mizushiro

Black Rose Alice, or Kuro Bara Alice, originally ran in Princess magazine from 2008 until it went on hiatus in 2011. Guess that means that this series isn’t quite finished and who knows if it will be because Setona Mizushiro is currently working on two other series. We’re getting the first 6 volumes from Viz media’s Shojo Beat.

Covers of Volumes 1 & 2

Covers of Volumes 1 & 2

The Gist: Dimitri Lewandowski is a celebrated tenor in early 1900s Vienna. When he is killed in an accident, his corpse is colonized by the seeds of a vampire master. At first, Dimitri denies that anything has changed, but as the people around him start dying, he is forced to accept the ghastly truth. Flash-forward to 2008. In Tokyo, Azusa Kikukawa’s troubled love life comes to an end with a fatal accident. Dimitri appears in her dying dreams with a diabolic proposal—he will save her lover if she agrees to become the breeding ground for the next generation of vampire seeds…

The Review: This series got to the premise of the story pretty quickly. Dimitri’s history is the first half of volume 1, and we witness the events that make him a vampire and bring him to needing a woman to help save his beloved Agnieszka, who he himself almost destroyed. The second part of that volume flashes forward to modern day and shows how Dimitri acquires a soul for his Agnieszka, and how Azusa becomes fodder for his diabolical plot.

Hmmm, maybe how I am phrasing this gives you an idea of how well I disliked the main protagonist? Dimitri is easy on the eyes, but I found him to be a selfish prig. He loves Agnieszka, but demands her fiance die, and then almost rapes her. Really? He won’t even leave her in peace – he makes her this glorified corpse and hopes to return her to life using another soul. Then Azusa is manipulated into giving him her soul because he holds her lover’s life over her head. What a jerk. You could point out that he saved her lover, but not without self-interest. Watching Azusa try to adapt to everything in the second volume made me feel sorry for her. She gets to continue living for a little while, but only until she decides to pick one of the vampires as a mate and reproduces. Then it’s all over. That’s kind of horrible really. Very selfless on her part for her student boyfriend/lover, but she got an awful deal. Then there’s Dimitri who now feels remorse about his actions towards Agnieszka, and can’t help but be tormented by her living image. I guess we’re suppose to feel sorry for him. But I just don’t – I really hate the dude and what he’s done to both girls. While the other aspects like the drawing and storytelling are of high quality as expected from Mizushiro, I just can’t like these characters or continue watching this horrible forced reproduction thing.

Paneling, toning, and those creepy spiders!

Paneling, toning, and those creepy spiders!

The Art:Even though I can’t stomach the story of Black Rose Alice, the art in the series is awesome. The historical drawings of Vienna look great. Settings are very detailed. The images of the familiars that are spiders and bugs are so realistic that they creeped me way out. I mean it really gave me the willies looking at those spiders crawling in and out of the good looking guys mouths. Goosebumps. Yeeesh! Paneling and toning are perfect for this series and the chapter headers are nicely composed. One thing that was lacking was the character designs. They are similar to other characters I’ve seen Mizushiro draw – they’re not that distinctive. Dimitri’s design is a rehash of every male protagonist she uses. Maybe that’s a style issue however.

The Audience:Viz has this rated older teen and that’s exactly what it should be. As I mentioned in the review part, there are events that are more appropriate for a mature audience. The whole premise of mating means that she has to pick a vampire and do it eventually. Then there’s the gory looking blood letting and killing aspect. Suicide. Yeah, older audience recommended. You’d probably like this series if you like the horror genre or are into vampire manga.

The Media:Kuro Bara Alice, Black Rose Alice, is available from Shojo Beat up to volume 2 so far. The series was printed up to 6 volumes in Japan, and then went on hiatus. So I don’t know if we’ll get the whole story.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥

It’s a good series if you like the story and characters. It’s not my thing, but I urge you to decide for yourself. Mizushiro always has quality work.

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Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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