Victoria’s Electric Coffin Volume 1 Review

Japanese magazine GFantasy is and has been home to fan favourites such as Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun, Horimiya, Black Butler and Pandora Hearts. Today I’m here to review the latest title to make its way to the West: Victoria’s Electric Coffin. Is it a worthwhile read? Let’s find out!

The story is set in New York in an alternate history version of the 1920s. Here we meet 13-year-old David Douglas, who lives in the slums and is now facing the death penalty for the crimes he’s committed (which include killing multiple people!). Before his sentence is carried out, David is asked to sign paperwork allowing his body to be used for experiments after his death. With no reason to refuse, David agrees not knowing that this choice will change the course of his life forever…

David is successfully executed, but for some reason finds himself waking up in a comfortable bed with a 13-year-old girl watching over him. He assumes this is all some kind of trick, but the girl reveals herself to be Victoria Frankenstein who is a medical researcher looking into reviving the dead. As it so happens, David is her first successful revival and will be henceforth known as the Electric Coffin or Eins, as Victoria wants to protect his original identity.

Of course, many think that reviving the dead is a taboo and Victoria has faced plenty of opposition from a religious leader due to her inhumane experiments up until now. Even now with something to show for all her work, Victoria faces anger as the rumours swirl that Eins was a heinous criminal. He may have been brought back to life, but retaining his previous memories and personality means there’s a risk he will go right back to crime. Victoria reasons that should he show signs of returning to criminal behaviour she can simply cut the electric supply to his brain (the experiment now means he has a giant nut in the side of his head), but that does little to stem the complaints.

Ultimately Victoria tasks Eins with living to help others with his second chance and he lives and works alongside her while helping those in need when they’re out and about. However, Eins struggles with the weight of his sins as David and doesn’t feel he deserves this second chance at life nor to stand beside Victoria. And with Mr. Walton, the religious leader trying desperately to get Eins to resort to violence and prove he hasn’t changed to ruin Victoria’s reputation once and for all, how long will Eins be able to stay on the straight and narrow?

This is mangaka Ikuno Tajima’s first series and perhaps due to that, it’s not overly ambitious when it comes to the story. It feels like the series could have wrapped up here in Volume 1 with some tweaks to the later chapters, as opposed to running for a further two books. That’s not a knock against it either mind you, this isn’t some bombastic shonen series about saving the world but rather a character piece with a fun twist on the story of Frankenstein.

Both Eins and Victoria have blood on their hands for one reason or another and regrets about their lives, but Tajima is clever in how we’re shown this. Never once have we seen Eins commit his alleged murders (I think there’s more to this) or Victoria’s experiments, which help endear us to their characters. Knowing they’ve done terrible things and actively seeing it happen impacts our perceptions differently, so I think it’s wise of Tajima to have told but not shown these events. Plus Victoria’s past is shrouded in mystery, there’s so much we don’t know about her yet like why as a 13-year-old she’s living in a big empty house all on her lonesome. I’m looking forward to learning more about both her and Eins’ history in volumes to come.

Tajima’s artwork makes this a superb read. It’s very clean with attractive character designs (including Eins despite him now technically being undead) and set pieces and outfits befitting of the time period the series takes place in. There are not a lot of action scenes and Tajima tends to draw within quite small panels, but that feels like where they’re comfortable and never poses a problem. Even contained in small panels there’s plenty of detail to the art and plenty to take in from page to page.

Victoria’s Electric Coffin Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Square Enix Manga and has been translated by Leighann Harvey with lettering by Lys Blakeslee. The release reads well with no problems to report. Included as extras are a colour page and a short chapter about Eins’ first night after being reborn.

As mentioned earlier the series is complete in Japan with Volume 3. Here in English Square Enix has Volume 2 set to release in July with the third and final instalment in October (perfect for Halloween!).

Overall, Victoria’s Electric Coffin gets off to a wonderful start. With a story that’s not too ambitious, two interesting lead characters and some attractive artwork from mangaka Ikuno Tajima there’s plenty to enjoy here if you’re looking for a new supernatural series!

A free preview of the volume can be found on the publisher’s website here

Our review copy from Square Enix Manga was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services). 

9 / 10


When she's not watching anime, reading manga or reviewing, Demelza can generally be found exploring some kind of fantasy world and chasing her dreams of being a hero.

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