Vampire Doll

Review covers the full series

One of the problems with Woolworths going out of business was that with them went this town's only source of pick-and-mix. What's pick-and-mix you ask? Well, it's slightly cheapened versions of lots of different type of sweet, all mixed together into one bag. You see, even if you like one type of sweet more than the rest, eating different types one after the other keeps things more interesting as you keep getting a change. The whole thing winds up being quite enjoyable, even if you don't like some individual sweets.

Which brings me to Vampire Doll, which is probably the pick-and-mix of Manga.

Vampire Doll stars Guilt-na-Zan, a Vampire who was sealed away in a cross by an exorcist. Fortunately for Guilt-na-Zan, a hundred years later one the exorcist's descendants named Kyoji decides to let him out from the seal, and builds him a new body. But unfortunately for Guilt-na-Zan, Kyoji has a sick and twisted sense of humour. The body he makes is that of a young girl, and he then forces Guilt-na-Zan to be his maid.

From there? Well, it goes everywhere. There are action stories, comedy stories, feel-good stories, sad stories, romance stories, and probably a few more I've missed listing.

The comic's strength is definitely its characters. The author has managed to create some really crazy but likeable characters, each of which are original, different and – crucially – work well in each of the genres that the series turns its hands to.

However the comic's weakness is that its plot progression is messed up. There is very little coherent plot besides character introductions, and when the plot actually does progress, it happens by means of one of the characters suddenly announcing that something is changing. (E.g.: I've just decided that we're moving house.)

While the random pick-and-mix of genres can be amusing, Vampire Doll does seem to give me the impression that part of the reason for this is that its author is frequently lost for new ideas. They seem to try anything that they can think of, giving the impression that lots of the events were pulled out of thin air rather than planned, with the author writing whatever they could think of at the time. And it doesn't help that the set-ups for the stories often clash with the situation the characters are currently in, forcing the author to write exceptions to previously established rules that don't make sense from the point of view of the plot.

The ending is just as bad; it's pretty much a deus ex machina timed to go off a few pages before the ending of the last book in the series – nothing leads up to it or triggers it, and it even contradicts a couple of the Manga's key plot points, again forcing the author to do more hand-waving to get rid of the problems in the story.

All of this is makes it impossible to take the series seriously when it is aiming to be serious. However it does make it easier to laugh with the series when it aims for humour – and the comedy benefits greatly from the authors “anything can happen regardless of what has happened so far” attitude. Which is why I compared Vampire Doll to pick-and-mix at the start of the review. (Although now I think about it, the fact that many of the comic's storylines involve confectionery might also have had something to do with this.)

While not every concept included works well, and while it seems that I've complained about this series more than I've praised it here, each concept that fails to work is only a small part of the manga, and therefore is not a huge flaw in the series as a whole.

I couldn't say that Vampire Doll is a must buy, but it might be worth your time checking it out.