'Black Rose Alice' brings an eerie vampiric romance away from being cliche

Jesus Figueroa

Written by Sergio Berrueta

Viz Media’s new shojo manga series, “Black Rose Alice” kicks off with a fascinating start with dark thrills against the cliched romantic setups in other romances.

The story focuses on a man by the name of Dimitri Lewandowski, an actor and singer who resides in 1908 Vienna and living comfortably with the royalty surrounding him. One day, he is involved in an accident and wakes up in a hospital where he comes across Maxmillian, a vampire who has helped Dimitri come back to life. At first, Dimitri is reluctant to accept his newfound life until he realizes people he knows and loves are dying for him, he must accept his new fate.

The book than makes a interesting turned going 100 years later to Tokyo, Japan in 2008 where we meet Azusa Kikuawa who life takes the same turn as Dimitri.

While in the hospital dreaming, Dimitri appears to offer a deal to save her lover in exchange for herself.

“Black Rose Alice” delivers an unexpected twist on the typical teenage shojo magna by not going into obvious territories.

The first two chapters focus more on Dimitri and his struggle to deal with his own struggles in love with a young girl he longs for. He is seen as an outsider and meager to others, but he keeps to himself to make it on his own.

His other struggle of accepting his new form is astounding when trying to accept his new life.

When Maximillian appears to tell him about being a vampire, it’s the kind of banter readers would expect Louie and Lestat from “Interview With a Vampire” in Mamillian’s sauve ideal and Dimitri’s confused mind.

The images of death in this book are quite startling for a teen magna. Scenes of spiders appearing from Dimitri’s mouth have a “Candyman” vibe to it.

The variety of suicides and offerings for Dimitri range from jumping out a window, jumping into a window to get stabbed in the throat and one of Dimitri’s co-workers hanging from the ceiling.

The sacrificial deaths are very close to those who offered themselves to Damien in “The Omen.” It builds an eerie presence and shows that this will probably not back down from the macabre.

The flash-forward to 2008 seems quite drastic as it suddenly shifts to it out of nowhere, yet the transition is smooth seeing Azusa in her daily life. It’s simple, basic and she deals with mundane takes, but she has a wonderful head on her shoulders keeping her going. She gets some what of a character background, but it seems to be saved more for the Vol. 2 to dive into who she is.

“Black Rose Alice” Vol. 1 is an intriguing new series filling in the void of dark shojos with a great sense of the grim while keeping the romance from being too stale.

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