Story and Art – JUDAL
English Publisher – Tokyopop
Released Date – 06/2003
Format – Right to Left
First Volume ISBN – 1-59182-369-2
Genre – Comedy, Fantasy
Age Rating – Teens
Long ago, in an epic battle of might, King Phelios defeated the Vampire King Duzell. And as both lay dying on the battle field, Duzell swore that his reincarnation would find King Phelios’ reincarnation and exact his revenge. A hundred years later, the moment of reincarnation has arrived… The only problem is that Duzell has been reincarnated as a harmless house cat. And to add to his frustration, he can’t find the reincarnation of King Phelios. Luckily, he has been adopted by Phelios’ grand-daughter, the teenage princess Ishtar, through whom Duzell may be able to track down who in the Phelios tribe is host to the great king’s reincarnated soul.
Princess Ishtar has a very hairy pussy… His name is Duzell, named after the Vampire King who was defeated by Ishtar’s grandfather in an epic battle long ago. The thing is though; ironically Duzell is the great Vampire King of old.
Vampire game is an intriguing mix of comedy, adventure and romance following the tale of Duzell the Kywal, who happens to be the reincarnation of the Vampire King of the same name and his quest to track down and kill the reincarnation of his Nemesis King Phelios who lurks somewhere within the blood line of his ancestors. Aided willingly by the rebellious and difficult Grand Daughter of his foe who, as a high ranking royal, has access to everyone in his bloodline the pair cross the world in pursuit of royal blood for Duzell to taste and thusly rediscover his nemesis.
To be frank when I first picked up Vampire Game I almost put it back, it looked a little too bishi and cute for my tastes (This coming from someone who reads Tokyo Mew Mew), the plot sounded a little muddled and as a big strong macho guy (Yea right) I’m not really into romance, but I thought “Hey why not”. The first thing I noticed about Vampire Game is how wrong my preconceptions about it were, much of it revolves around comedy, not irreverent and insane comedy like “Excel Saga” or “Those who hunt elves”, but intelligently constructed and played out situation comedy, that is the comedy actually runs through the story rather than the other way around.
The plot itself is rather unusual, out of what seems to be boredom, discontent of Royal protocol, teenage rebellion or perhaps all three Ishtar agrees to take Duzell throughout the kingdom visiting the barons, countesses and princes and princesses who make up her family and conceive ways for her loveably pet who happens to be a shape shifting vampire taste a few drops of their blood. This naturally starts off simple of course as Duzell does as most cats do and bites and claws his way through Ishtar’s close family, however further into the story events start to over take the pair and as they balance the need to keep Duzell’s identity secret, continue on his quest and try and settle family feuds with the sinister arrival of another powerful vampire, one the scenes who seems to despise both Duzell and Phelios but believes them both to be dead and gone.
Graphically Vampire Game is somewhat formulaic but very pretty none the less. Many of the characters and the style as a whole is very reminiscent of clamp, but here in lies a problem, many of the characters look the same, granted that some are actually related to each other, but other times it is sometimes easy to forget a face and find yourself having to backtrack through the series.
Other than some slight problems with characters presentation Vampire Game has few problems other than perhaps that some of the sub stories can feel a little slow paced and not wanting to sound petty but the first book in the series is a different colour than the others (Damn you Tokyopop) there is very little to complain about.
To conclude Vampire Game is a fun and interesting journey through what is perhaps a slightly formulaic fantasy land. The characters are intelligently conceived, well drawn and compliment the style of the story being told very well, resulting in a well put together and enjoyable fable about revenge, friendship and the futility of war.
St. Phelios – A revered monarch and the Kingdom of Pheliosta’s namesake. Phelios is famous for defeating the Vampire King Duzell in an epic battle that cost Phelios his life. As they died, Duzell vowed that they would meet again, leading people to believe that Phelios will be reborn into one of his heirs.
Duzell – Feared throughout the kingdom of Pheliosta, Duzell is a vicious vampire king who once slaughtered hundreds of men in a bloody battle for the kingdom. He was defeated by Phelios, but before he died he promised to return and once again face King Phelios in battle, next time emerging victorious. Now, 100 years later, he has been reborn as Princess Ishtar’s pet cat.
Ishtar – A precocious princess who finds herself in the centre of a century-old prophecy, Ishtar is the granddaughter of Phelios and the heir to the kingdom of Pheliosta. Although Ishtar is expected to live the life of a lady, and marry a proper suitor of royal blood, she would much rather spend her time infuriating Sir Keld and Darres by ditching her magic lessons and pretending to be a knight. It was on one such excursion that Ishtar found her pet kyawl, who just happens to be the reincarnation of the vampire king Duzell. Ishtar not only is aware of this, but is, perversely, more than willing to help Duzell in his search.
Darres – The captain of the royal guard, Darres is also Ishtar’s noble, but rather dim-witted, bodyguard. Although Ishtar frustrates Darres to no end, he does care about her and deeply respects King Phelios. Perhaps Ishtar’s most closely-guarded secret, however, is that she also cares deeply about Darres.
Sir Keld – Princess Ishtar’s caretaker and instructor, Sir Keld may have been a great knight at one time, but he’s now a laughingstock. Nicknamed the ‘Old Fart’ by everyone in the castle, Sir Keld, at the very least, means well.