Pathos 2 by Sadahiro Mika
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Warning: This is a Yaoi Novel. Yaoi is Japanese art form, graphic novels depicting romances between men. They are usually written by women, for women. They can range from sweet romances to quite racy and explicit. Also, there are certain themes beyond this that the Japanese take as a matter of course, but that can be disconcerting to Westerners. If this is not your cup of tea, well, you have been warned!
In Pathos, we met King, J, and Ace. King and J are vampires, and Ace is the human orphan they have raised. They live as brothers, though J is half Chinese, and this family has some real boundary issues.
King is the leader of the kiss of vampires, and the Seme (aggressive partner or ‘top'). He loves J and they have a relationship, where J is the Uke (passive partner or ‘bottom'). However, J also has a relationship with Ace where in he is the Seme, and Ace is the Uke. Sort of. Because all sex is replaced for vampires by the craving.
Sharing blood is an extremely erotic act for vampires and they share their partner's passion and excitement through the blood. This is good, because regular old fashioned sex is not possible for a vampire.
In the last volume, Ace was told he had to wait until he was eighteen to rejoin the family, because he kept tempting J to bite him. Now, four years have passed, with Ace in boarding school, and the vampires in torpor, sleeping the years away.
Ace picks up a pair of rough trade, and brings them home, telling them that his brothers are away in Europe. The scum bags have rape and robbery in mind, but that's okay, because Ace has something else planned; they are to be breakfast for King and J after their long sleep!
Ace is 18, and he wants to be a vampire. However, King, a very old and wise in the ways of Death vampire realizes that his real beauty is that he is mortal, that he does change, and will die, something vampires don't do. That is the source of J's attraction to him. And King refuses to make Ace into a monster.
So Ace takes matters in his own hands, forcing the issue. Ace and King were always the good relationship; Ace is King's child/pet. However, as Ace and J build a sexual relationship, Ace has become jealous of the relationship between J and his maker.
Will this drive the vampires apart? Can all three find a way to live together? And if not, who will be the one to go?
The last third is taken up with a story, obviously retrofitted into the period of time when the vampire were supposed to be asleep, and features a dangerous romance between Ace and one of his school mates. I rather liked it, despite the sequel feel to it.
This is a very angst driven yaoi; it is far more story than average, and the sex, while plentiful, is a bit weird, since penetration is achieved with fangs.
The principles are very self interested, and self absorbed and ultimately selfish. Each is controlled by their passions. King is clinging to the shreds of his pathos, the human connection all vampires crave. J is conflicted in all his relationships; he longs to be free of King's control, but he loves him, he craves Ace's blood, but he wants to preserve Ace's humanity. Ace has a very oedipal relationship with the vampires; King moves from being a father figure to a romantic rival, and J is the prize.
All in all, it's a little more angst and drama than I really like.
The art is really very fine; a little on bishonen side with long graceful limbs and vaguely androgynous heroes, but there is nothing effeminate about them, not even Ace. Mika doesn't indulge in ‘chibi' at all, a plus in my book; no, she takes it very serious.
The art is elegant and a little stylized, and very apropos for a vampire tale. Mika's vampires are suave and elegant, and if they are cruel, well, that is the nature of the beast. The art works for this, featuring clean line and gray tone shading. For the sparse ink painting elegance of the art, Mika is not afraid of detail work, like the links in a chain, or of backgrounds, though many panels do without them to focus attention on the characters. It is yaoi art in a fine tradition with only one failing; the work is actually older and was drawn with the Japanese censorship laws in full consideration. There is no actual male member depicted anywhere in the work; it is most drawn like soft porn where the angle hides the business, but if there is a direct shot, Mika simply fails to draw it in, making this a much tamer Yaoi than many others.
So, great art, but little sex, good story, but heavy on the angst and drama. All and all, this volume is slightly less enjoyable than the first.
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