@ Full Moon Volumes 1 & 2
David is a vampire; Marlo is half vampire, half werewolf. The young men have been close friends since childhood and in the two volumes of Sanami Matoh’s light-hearted bit-lit manga series ‘Until the Full Moon’ they fall in love and get married. Oh – sorry – forgot to mention that Marlo becomes a woman every full moon, hence the title, so it’s ok for all those with BL-phobia, because he’s a she once a month.
‘@ Full Moon’ continues their story as newly-weds and plunges the happy couple into a difficult situation as Clive, an ardent admirer of Marlo, gets his little witch and contract mage friend Mona to place a spell on Marlo that will make him stay in his female form forever. As it turns out, Marlo is not pleased about this at all – and has no interest in transferring his affections to the feckless Clive. Gothic complications and magical pratfalls ensue; we get to learn about Clive’s earlier history with Mona – but when Mona is unable to reverse the spell, the tension begins to mount.
‘Until the Full Moon’ (1998) was republished in a new translation last autumn by Kodansha, closely followed by these two sequels. Sanami Matoh is probably best known for her ground-breaking hard-bitten BL US cops manga ‘Fake’ which attempted to balance crime-solving, wisecracking, and hot romance in equal measure. Since then, her drawing style has altered significantly and not everyone seems to like the new Matoh-sensei’s character designs. Gone are the hatchet-jaws and the OTT nineties hairstyles. I have no problem with the new look – I even like it a little better than the originals. And Sanami Matoh can still spin an engaging tale; compared with many less experienced mangaka, she’s good at telling a story clearly and effectively through image and text. But these gothic fantasy-comedies are frothy bits of fluff compared with ‘Fake;’ they’re fun to read, but put them aside and you’ll probably have forgotten all about them in half an hour. There’s nothing wrong with a fun read – but I would have liked just a little more peril – and a little more depth to the characterization. Maybe it’s unfair to judge too harshly because ‘@ Full Moon’ is not a finished work. Sanami Matoh was obviously enjoying herself drawing little goth-loli witches and Byronic bishonen… and her wistful after-note leaves me reflecting on the uncertain nature of the mangaka’s world:
‘This is sudden but… unfortunately the magazine – ‘MiChao!’ – has been cancelled… It’s really a shame because we were planning a third volume.’
How many other manga series have been scuppered in this way? ‘@ Full Moon’ was never going to achieve the status of ‘Fake’ but one can only sympathize with the mangaka’s plight at having to leave it unfinished, her new characters underdeveloped, and her readers wondering what might have been.