Police officer Nishi Tatsuyoshi is investigating a series of strange murders--the victims were all completely drained of blood. The Hong Kong underground is filled with rumors of vampires and of a new drug that makes you immortal, but Nishi knows that there has to be a person behind the crimes. Or he believes that until the day he is in the abandoned Kowloon Walled City and is attacked by a monstrous creature. His life is saved by the appearance of a strange man, but that man—Hagi—may be even more of a mystery than the crimes Nishi is investigating.
Kisaragi adds to the Blood+ series with a story about Hagi, the Chevalier of Saya, the heroine of the series, but readers don’t have to have prior knowledge of Saya to enjoy this monster-slaying action manga. Blood+: Kowloon Nights takes place in between the events of the anime Blood: the last vampire and the Blood+ anime. (Also in the series are the five-volume Blood+ series and the two-volume Blood+: Adagio series, plus the Blood and Blood+ novels all from Dark Horse, so there are lots of stories for fans new and old.) Since this tale does not feature Saya and because it is written by a creator popular in the United States for his boys’ love manga, Blood+: Kowloon Nights is a great choice for attracting new fans to the franchise. Nishi is the main character here and he’s a hot-headed, but good-at-heart police officer, earnest to the point of almost being a caricature of a shonen action hero. Even when surrounded by strange events, he’s determined to muddle through, spurred on by the loss of his brother, a military chaplain. This determined, yet cheerful attitude is appealing and helps make the story accessible to those new to the Blood+ universe.
Hagi, on the other hand, doesn’t say much and we aren’t given a lot of details about him, other than who (and what) he is. But it’s clear from Kisaragi’s portrayal of him that Hagi feels conflicted about his role and his powers. He doesn’t want to become a monster, but he doesn’t feel like he is part of the human race either. He reacts to Nishi’s kindness almost like a beaten dog to a kind new master, which is touching. The other side characters are less fully fleshed out, but since this is a one-volume, stand alone part of the series, they don’t really need to be more developed. They work just fine to help move the plot along. The plot itself is obviously a mere portion of a larger whole, but again, that’s okay. The story is has a strong beginning, coherent middle, and clear ending, which is what it needs to work in a single volume.
The popularity of Kisaragi’s art lies in its beauty; his characters, both good and evil, are ethereally beautiful, the essence of bishonen. In a nod to his boys’ love roots, there are just enough instances of very attractive men holding each other protectively or blushing at a touch to get boys’ love fans to pick up this non-boys’ love title. On top of that, Kisaragi has a feel for paranormal action. The monsters are hideous, the fight scenes well-laid out, and there is just enough blood and fighting to make the tale believable without being too gory. This volume is a great addition to collections that have the other Blood+ manga or for libraries that want to try a single volume first to judge popularity.
Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith on July 13, 2012