After falling in love with Bisco Hatori’s amazing series Ouran High School Host Club, it was simply a given that Millennium Snow be put onto the shorter end of my to-read list. Following the lives of a sickly teen and the vampire boy who begrudgingly befriends her, the manga grabs hold of a premise that should make you want to roll your eyes, then spins it into a sound tale that is refreshing in its honesty and simplicity.
Considering pop culture’s recent infatuation with the whole vampire/werewolf storyline, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of skepticism while traipsing through Millennium Snow. Thankfully, it didn’t take long to gain trust in the originality of what sat in front of me. It seems that Bisco Hatori’s thing is to write meaningful stories where lonely and hurt people are able to find significance within themselves and others, simply by learning to trust and letting people in. And it works.
Volume 1: Seventeen year old Chiyuki is a girl whose life is dictated by a heart condition that has everyone thinking that she is not long for this world. Life gets a little more interesting when she meets Toya, an anemic vampire who prefers to live off of standard food, as opposed to choosing a human partner who in turn for being his own personal blood bank, would live as long as Toya does–about 1,000 years. Refusing to ask anyone to share such a long and lonely existence, Toya tries to maintain an arrogant attitude, as well as living by the mantra that humans are weaker creatures who will just end up dying and leaving him all alone.
Seeing through his facade, Chiyuki becomes adamant about making a connection with Toya, despite his penchant for insulting both her ditzy personality and her human fragility. Regardless of how he behaves, Toya is unable or unwilling to leave her alone, and therefore goes along when Chiyuki enrolls him into her high school. The result is oftentimes amusing, and both Chiyuki and Toya’s individual charms start to come into play.
Enter into the picture Satsuki, a popular and obnoxious student with secrets of his own, and we now have the making of a love triangle. With Satsuki’s eye on Chiyuki, it isn’t long before he’s revealed to be a werewolf, albeit not happily so. Doing what he can to be normal, it’s Chiyuki who helps him toward epiphany, and he ends up falling in love with her. Toya, of course, is not too happy with it all.
The first volume of Millennium Snow ended up being short and sweet, with an entertaining ending with which to segue into Volume Two. Yes, the story might be a classic shojo setup, but I found it to be fantastic, no less.
In addition to delivering a good first series, Bisco Hatori graces readers with her manga debut, A Romance of One Moment, which appeared in LaLa DX. It’s a lovely story, but that is a post for another time.
Volume 2: Continuing on with the annoyed-jealous-guy versus confident-happy-guy love triangle theme, Chiyuki remains the diplomat of the group. The three of them head off to the Alps for a little vacation, only to end up lost in the mountains. A little arbitrary, but we’ll go with it. Mainly because that’s how the group ends up finding respite in an old mansion sitting in the middle of nowhere. As it turns out, the mansion is frozen in time due to the loneliness and anger felt by the ghost of the little girl who used to live there. It’s a nice little twist to an otherwise normal story, and again, the supernatural elements are fitting and in no way overdone.
Moving forward with the story, Chiyuki, Toya and Satsuki begin to settle into the day-to-day aspects of high school existence. Things are pretty standard until the arrival of Chiyuki’s cousin, Kei, whose been away at college in America. Having told Chiyuki that he’s been studying English, Kei’s actually studying to become a cardiologist in order to one day save his cousin. Unreasonably overprotective, Kei does not take well to these new male friends, and eventually comes to blows with Toya. It’s while dealing with Chiyuki’s slightly unhinged cousin that readers are able to really see Toya begin to come into his own. Not only are his feelings for her becoming more apparent, but his actions and words become more deliberate. Sure, he’s still throwing Chiyuki the occasional insult, but he’s also gaining comfort and insight into who he is; and while he’s still putting Chiyuki’s needs before his own, it’s clear that Toya has come to a place where he’s willing to protect and fight for what he wants (read: Chiyuki).
With a mere three volumes of Millennium Snow published, and only two of those being available in English, I am definitely left wanting for more. With a Japanese release date of 2002, it was still 2007 before Volume Two was made available in English. With Volume Three having only been released earlier this year, I can only imagine how long it will take for it to make its way Stateside.
I’m sure it will be well worth the wait. I’m excited to see the difference that a decade has made with Bisco Hatori’s artwork. Early on, the bodily proportions of characters can occasionally distract from the story, though this is just a minor setback. The range of emotions and humor that her artwork conveys definitely outweighs any negatives.
With Japan having released Volume Three of Millennium Snow as recently as August 2013, I’m crossing my fingers that it does not take five or six years for Viz to bring the series to North America.