Author: Atsushi Suzumi
Genre: Manga, Paranormal, Crime, Fantasy
Publication Date: September 28, 2010 (North America)
Summary: Sumire Takahana is a seemingly normal school girl cursed with the ability to see malevolent ghosts known as “Viruses.” Her life comes to a dramatic crossroads when she meets Lucia Nahashia, an eye-patch wearing, “gothic lolita”-clad monster killer for hire. Not content to stay on the sidelines while the Viruses prey on the weak, Sumire decides to join the Lucia in Venus Vanguard to hunt down Viruses before they can hurt anyone else.
But Sumire’s battle with the Viruses has unforeseen consequences: a dark power wells up in her in a brutal berserker form! Lucia must stop Sumire from destroying all of Venus Vanguard without killing her friend. Meanwhile, Sumire’s power attracts the attention of Sonaka, a mysterious girl who controls the Viruses, and watches, and waits, and plans…
☆: 4.5/5 stars – a fantastic gothic tale that will leave you wanting more!
Review: So, I read this series when it first came out while I was still living in Japan, and now I sorely regret not being able to bring home all of those lusciously-detailed volumes (I just didn’t have room in my boxes I mailed home or my suitcases!) that I’d bought and read there. This is one absolutely gorgeous series, both in terms of story and visuals – Suzumi is really, really talented with details, and no matter what she draws, I’ll read (and probably buy). “VVV” is no exception to this rule. Seven Seas/Macmillan has done a great job translating this series, so I highly recommend that everyone who’s been hesitant to buy the series to go ahead and buy it. If you like your monster hunters with as ass-kicking heroines with a vicious sense of fashion, you definitely NEED to read “Venus Versus Virus”.
I’m really into the gothic lolita fashion trend, so I was really happy to see it start showing up in manga not soon after it started in real life, and “VVV” was one of those series that first started featuring it as a majority of their characters’ wardrobes. But this series isn’t all about fashion – it’s mostly about monsters, and turns into a social commentary about how humans can become Viruses, both spiritually and literally, after being exposed to abusive or just plain bad situations. Suzumi does a wonderful job with her worldbuilding, and the story takes root very quickly in this very sturdily-constructed world. The rules of the world are set fairly early, until we get a shakeup in volume 2, when we find out that Viruses aren’t the only threat to humanity out there. The world is well-rounded and thanks to all of Suzumi’s details, feels very much like a real world where real things take place.
In terms of this omnibus edition, the only thing that’s missing are the original color pages that came with both the Japanese and first-print US edition releases. After further research, I’ve found that other Seven Seas omnibuses have also nixed the color plates that might have been in the single-edition volumes that were first released. This is really a shame, especially in the case of “VVV” as the color plates from the original releases were some of the most visually stunning I’ve seen in manga in a long time. The translation is also great – though I did have some issues with some of the word choices, it mostly gets the original spirit of the story across quite well.
The characters are solid and the paranormal elements are unique, as they mix virology and demonology, and I found that mix extremely fascinating. To be able to study demons in a scientific way? I’d definitely love to do that. But Nahashi and Lucia have their own reasons for doing so – reasons only hinted at in this volume, and they’re not happy reasons. My heart broke for little!Lucia and what was hinted to have happened to her during her childhood, and Sumire having no choice but to become apart of the Venus Vanguard outfit wasn’t great, either. (I mean, knowing you might become a monster and start tearing apart everything in sight? Not cool.) I think a lot of of the YA crowd will strongly identify with Sumire and Lucia’s lots in life, no matter how fantastic they get over the course of this series.
So, if you’re looking for something new to read this summer, I highly recommend this first chunk of the “VVV” series. It’s extremely fun, and I think everyone will find something they like about Sumire and Lucia’s fight against evil. “Venus Versus Virus: Omnibus 1” is out now through Seven Seas/Macmillan in North America, so be sure to check it out when you get the chance.