Author: Kyung-Il Yang, Hyung-Min Kim
Genre: paranormal, manga/manhwa
Publication Date: October 2010 (English edition)
Version Read: English edition (first)
Synopsis: Among the quiet villages and towns of 18th century Europe, demons known as the Ill hide within the most beautiful works of art, sparked to life by the torment of their creators. Attracted by their jewel-like allure, the unwary find themselves possessed by the Ill and driven to horrific acts of violence. Only the hunters of the Ciste Vihad can dispel the Ill.
March is one such hunter, tracking the Ill from town to town to find the antiques that contain the demons before they can possess anyone. If the worst has come to pass, March’s full powers are unleashed to battle the fiendish Ill. Born of tragedy, the artifacts all have their own tales to tell, as do each of their victims. But March’s story may be the most tragic of all.
☆: 5/5 – a wonderful addition to the alternate-history and fairy tale genre
Review: I decided to read this one one day on a whim whilst strolling through Barnes and Noble, since I’d been hearing hype online about it before it hit the shelves. The jacket image caught me – what can I say? I’m most definitely a sucker for gorgeous art – and what seemed to be an interesting story. It wasn’t just interesting. I wanted the second volume right away.
This series is being released in North America under Viz’s SigIkki line (as apart of their partnership with Japanese publisher Shueisha and their imprint of Ikki Comics), so it’s a little more pricey. But if it’s paying the translators, it’s money well paid. I haven’t yet read the original version of this, but I have read other titles under the SigIkki imprint along with their source material, and the translations have been top-shelf for most of the time.
As for the story and the art – both are well-paired, and March’s story as she makes her way through an alternate-history Europe, hunting these cursed objects haunted by these well-named demons, the Ill. The fact that March’s own story and experience with the Ill was inserted in the plot early on really helped me get comfortable with the story. This story itself isn’t unlike “D. Gray-Man” with the Innocents and the Exorcists, so if you’ve read both titles, you’ll see how getting the main character’s backstory early on really really helps when they’re hunting these beings down.
But as much as you compare both stories, “March Story” breaks the mold with their fearless attitude with having a female lead and showing her as female, not just as a featureless figure with convenient censorship. What always disappointed me with “Gray-Man” was the overwhelming male to female ratio with the characters and how little power the girls were given compared to Allen Gray and his associates. Having March and her scene in the bath as she recalls the curse put upon her by the Ill she consumed is a particularly powerful image – a curse like “Sleeping Beauty” but with the sexuality fleshed out both with the physical picture of March’s body and the words of the curse given by the Ill inside of her. It was incredibly refreshing to say the very least.
I can’t wait for volume two to come out in the states – I have no idea if this is the last in the series (since I can’t seem to find much information on it), and I sincerely hope it isn’t. “March Story” is an underappreciated series by two very talented authors, and I hope it gets some more of the love it most definitely deserves.