Canon, vol. 1
by Chika Shiomi
Rated Teen Plus
Canon Himura was an ordinary schoolgirl—well, ordinary except for the fact that she was dying of some unspecified disease—when a mysterious silver-haired vampire killed 39 of her classmates, sucking all the blood from their bodies. For some reason, Canon was spared—but she turned into a vampire.
That could be the start of any number of stories, but Shiomi has put an interesting twist on Canon: She’s an ethical vampire. Thanks to a stranger’s intervention, she is determined to resist her own desire for human blood and instead pursues two goals: Liberating humans who have been turned into vampires and finding the vampire responsible for her fate (who is named, somewhat incongruously, Rod). Canon’s companion on this quest is a tough-talking crow called Fui who can literally sniff out vampires because he relishes their blood.
Shiomi’s version of the vampire myth varies a bit from the standard model. In the world of Canon, vampires convert ordinary humans into vampires by drinking their blood, but the process can be reversed. Canon intercepts a number of these half-baked vampires and makes them human again, which, of course, enrages the vampires who bit them to begin with. She doesn’t seem to be able to reverse her own curse, but paradoxically, becoming a vampire made her healthier, as she is no longer wasting away from a fatal disease. On the other hand, her refusal to drink blood—vampires can’t tolerate ordinary food—may make her weaker in the future.
Another wrinkle is the antipathy between full-blooded vampires (who are born of two vampires) and the “servants” that are created by a vampire’s bite. The full-bloods are determined to exterminate the half-breeds, which leads to more violence all round.
After turning a few vampires back into humans, Canon runs into the darkly handsome Sakaki, a vampire who shares her hatred of Rod—but not her purity of morals. Sakaki insists that she won’t be strong enough to fight Rod on her own, but Canon refuses him, ignoring her own wobbly knees to stick to principles. Do I even need to mention that she’s attracted to him in spite of herself? No, this is manga, so it goes without saying.
The first volume comes to a violent climax in the final chapter, where Canon and Sakaki face an even greater evil. Once again, Canon asserts a principled stance: She won’t kill anyone, no matter how much they have it coming.
This story has a lot of momentum, but keep your eye on Canon; other characters seem to appear out of nowhere and then disappear as soon as their work is done. Also, whatever town they live in is absolutely lousy with vampires; they seem to turn up everywhere you look. Fui, the talking crow, strikes a bit of a false note; his “street talk” sounds clunky and forced, but his conversations with Canon provide the opportunity for lots of plot exposition.
Shiomi’s art is suitably dramatic and carries the story nicely. I like the way she composes her pages, using large and small panels to good effect. The characters have that vaguely worried look that I associate with older manga, but Shiomi puts a lot of expression and energy into this book.
Canon has plenty of action, a likeable protagonist, and some interesting plot twists. This one is definitely in the “recommended” category.
(This review is based on galleys supplied by the publisher.)