Author: Kim Hyung-Min
Genre: YA, manga/manwha/comics
Publication Date: October 16, 2012 (Viz – North America)
Source: Edelweiss Review Copy
Summary: 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. The Ill prey upon human feelings, using them as both a lure and a weapon. March must conceal her feelings for Rodin lest the Ill that lies inside her should awaken and destroy her. When Rodin receives an invitation to a fancy dress ball, March surreptitiously tags along. The gala has also attracted a devilish guest who thirsts for the blood of the young maidens in attendance. March faces her terrifying past once again, and this time all of her friends are in danger!
☆: 4.5/5 stars – another gorgeous volume in the series!
Review: I’m a volume behind (I still have to read volume 3), but the great thing about “March Story” as a series is that for the most part, one can dive right in at any time in any volume and still manage to understand what’s going on. This volume is mainly based off of the tale of Countess Bathory, and retells her story with a ball, the blood of virgins, and March, hunting her down. With absolutely gorgeous, over-the-top eye-popping art, this volume in the series just cannot be missed. Warning: there are spoilers for this volume involved, so you’ve been warned.
Along with this retelling of the gruesome tale of a real-life woman, we also get more on March’s origins – how her family was murdered by the Ill (specifically, who did it), and how she gained her abilities as apart of the Ciste Vihad. This is a pivotal volume if you want to know more about March (and Lady Janjaghee, the retold version of Bathory) and how she came to be involved with the Ill-hunting organization. While in volume one we get a short briefing on her activities and abilities with fighting the Ill, we don’t get the full story. Until now. There’s a lot of lies and betrayal involved, and I have to say, that Kim really knows how to weave a story – especially involving a real life character. Excellent work here.
There’s also the cause-effect relationship between Janjaghee and March here that we’ve never seen before – apparently, Janjaghee, after murdering March’s family, didn’t get off very lightly at all. Apparently even she has nightmares of March, just as March has nightmares of her. Janjaghee was supposedly murdered by March’s Ill Thorns, but that’s all moot, now that she’s joined the Cirque du Rouge in order to keep feeding the Ill inside of her with virgins’ blood. This volume is definitely not one for the squeamish – the scenes where Janjaghee takes her victims are pretty gruesome, but the art is breathtakingly gorgeous. Kim has truly done a beautiful job here.
We also have March’s identity as a girl outed to Belma, who comes to save her at the last minute, and I can’t say I enjoyed watching March, who’s one of the strongest manga/manwha heroines I’ve had the pleasure of reading about, having to get saved. But I guess that happens sometimes, right? Nevertheless, all in all, I really enjoyed this volume, even with my nitpicks aside.
As I haven’t read the original, I can’t really comment on how faithful the translation is. However, some of the localization changes did make me cringe (“Dream on, Pee-Wee!” was one of them), and I kind of wish that they’d nixed that in the final edit (and since this is an ARC copy, hopefully they will before final publication).
Final verdict? If you’ve read the other volumes in this series, you simply must continue your journey with March, Jake, Belma, and the rest. If you’re new, you can dive in here, and then backtrack if you have to. “March Story: Volume 4” will be out from Viz in North America on October 16, 2012, so be sure to check it out then! It’s highly recommended, and one of my favorite series.