I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
[This is an old review. I was unimpressed enough with this volume that I sold it a while back in order to free up some shelf space.]
I used to gobble up Kenyon's books like potato chips, but, even when I still really loved them, I knew they had some serious flaws. One of those flaws is that they tend to be giant infodumps. Kenyon has built a very complex world, and she is incapable of communicating the details and rules of that world in a subtle, natural way, resulting in lengthy expository conversations and passages.
That problem carries over into this OEL manga adaptation of Kenyon's paranormal romance Night Pleasures (this title is not specifically mentioned anywhere on or in this volume that I can see, but that's definitely the book it's based on).
I think a one-shot OEL manga or OEL manga series based on Kenyon's Dark-Hunter world might have been ok, but I'm not sure anything short of a major re-write could have saved this Night Pleasures adaptation. Instead of focusing on the action, the romance, and/or the angst that Dark-Hunters practically drip with, instead of allowing the rules of Kenyon's world to naturally be revealed as the story progresses or just assuming that most of the people reading this OEL manga probably already have some familiarity with Kenyon's Dark-Hunter world, readers are treated to pages of the characters standing (or sitting) around and talking about as many world rules and character back-stories as possible.
This makes for some incredibly wordy pages in a format that usually tends to rely as much, if not more, on its artwork than its words. I know there's wordy manga out there, but I tend to think of American comics as being wordier than Japanese manga. And this book was trying so hard to be seen as Japanese manga - it's even in "traditional Japanese right to left manga format," rather than in the left to right format that would make more sense considering it was originally written in English. While the right to left design was done well enough that I actually didn't notice it at first (I am that used to reading right to left manga), I can't shake the feeling that those involved in the creation of this series/volume were trying a bit too hard to make it more "legitimate" for manga fans.
The long expository conversations don't just seem odd for the format, they also sacrifice the story in favor of world-building. By the end of this volume, Kyrian and Amanda have had a few longing-filled glances and "I'm attracted to you" moments and are to the point where they feel ok cuddling (in original book, replace "cuddling" with "having sex"), and Amanda says "It's like we're one--mind, and body, joined" without either of them cracking up. Except there hasn't really been much time for romance to develop. Amanda knows Kyrian's tragic back-story, Kyrian knows Amanda was considered a freak by her peers when she was younger because she foresaw the death of a friend (a back-story tidbit that swooped in practically out of the blue), they both had lots of adrenaline in their systems, and they're both good-looking. That's basically what their relationship is based on. I can't remember if the original book is much better in this regard, but I think the book's page count at least gives the reader more time to feel like they've gotten to know the characters.
And speaking of this being based on a romance novel... Kenyon's books have sex in them. That can be a touchy thing to deal with in a visual format, since there is always the potential to at least ramp the intended age group up, if not completely push the work into porn territory. Still, it's possible for a manga series to have sex without being explicit about it: Yuu Watase's Ceres: Celestial Legend is an example. Kenyon's books are intended primarily for adults. One would figure that those reading this OEL manga would either be people who read and enjoyed her books (the category I fall into) or people who enjoy manga and would likely look Kenyon up if they enjoyed this. According to the back of the volume, the intended audience is actually age 13 and up. I suppose that explains why, instead of a tastefully done sex scene, readers are given a cuddling scene. I wonder why this wasn't aimed at older teens?
This volume just has too many problems overall. There are story details that make no sense:
Why did Desiderius not just kill Amanda (who he thought was actually her Daimon-killing sister) and Kyrian? He chains them together on the assumption that Amanda would try to kill Kyrian, but what he's really doing is introducing the possibility of failure to his plan. It's just stupid.
Why did the Apollite queen become enraged when the Apollite woman sent to seduce Apollo had his son? Her idiot rage doomed all her people to either die at an early age or eat souls for the rest of their days.
Supposedly, Kyrian is not an idiot, so why did he stop to take a bath and have a glass of wine when he and his wife should have been using the extra time to get more distance between them and the Romans?
Some of these Moments of Stupid have explanations within the volume, but those explanations are pretty weak, in my opinion. If something is explained better in the original book...well, why? Shouldn't this work be able to stand on its own?
I wish I could say the artwork, at least, is solid, but it's not. It has some great moments - I love the panel where Talon is hit by an astral blast and Kyrian's facial expressions when he's being cocky are pretty good. Unfortunately, particularly as the volume progresses, Kyrian's design becomes really inconsistent. On one page, his features might be rounded and a bit boyish, while on another page his features might be sharper. The sharper-featured look was more common, and I preferred it more, but it was jarring for his "look" to change so much throughout a single volume. Also, even though I liked Kyrian's sharper-featured design, there were still things I didn't like about his character design. Like his eyes, or, to be more accurate, his eyelashes. They would have been the envy of any manga girl - it's a personal preference, but it's not a look I like for manga guys, especially tough, kick-butt manga guys. I didn't really have any feelings one way or another about Amanda's design, and I liked certain aspects of Talon's design, but I hated how Nick looked.
Getting back to the whole inconsistency thing, there were certain details in the artwork that could have used a bit more checking over before publication. For instance, a big deal is made of the fact that Kyrian has tons of scars, and Campos makes sure to draw them. Some of the time. Other times, the scars are gone, such as in the scene where Julian is taking care of Kyrian's wounds, or the scene were Kyrian meets Amanda after his bath. The scars should be there, but they aren't. At the beginning, a big deal is also made of Kyrian's black eyes. Even as Amanda notices they are black, they aren't black in the actual artwork. No, this work is not in color, but it's not hard to communicate "black" in black-and-white artwork. Sometimes Kyrian's eyes are black, sometimes they aren't. Kyrian has also mysteriously appearing pants at the end of chapter 6. Only moments after dropping his towel in front of Amanda and saying "Ancient Greeks never had a problem with public nudity," he is revealed to be wearing what appears to be pants.
It seems I am always disappointed by OEL manga/graphic novel adaptations of books, and this is no exception. If I continue on with this, it will probably be via ILL requests, and only because I want to see if it gets better once all the exposition has finally been dealt with. And also because I'd like to see what Campos comes up with for other character designs. I took a peek at the preview of the next volume, and it looks like she forgot (on purpose?) the hideous design she came up with for Nick in volume one, because he actually looks a bit more appealing and completely different from the way he was depicted in this volume.
(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)