Bizenghast by M. Alice LeGrow (amazon)

I’ve been curious about Tokyopop’s OEL Manga line, so I’m picking up first volumes of a few of the series that look interesting to me. I picked up Bizenghast because the art looked appealing, and I’m always up for a spooky story. LeGrow frames the story with newspaper articles that provide details about the characters’ past, and we learn that Dinah’s parents died in a freak car accident, and she’s been sent to live with her aunt in a former school located in the desolate town of Bizenghast. Dinah sees the ghosts that live in her new home, and she’s prone to fits. Her aunt never seems to let Dinah outside, but she sneaks off with her friend Vincent. One day when they are wandering, they stumble across a mysterious mausoleum, and their adventures begin.

LeGrow’s art is very detailed and gothic. Some of the images reminded me of etchings or woodblock prints. She doesn’t fill in too many details about the characters, so the reader is left to ponder some mysteries like, “What is up with Dinah’s aunt?”, “How exactly is Dinah sick?”, “Why is Vincent so protective?”, and “Why is Bizenghast so creepy?”. I think that Tokyopop is smart to set a 3 volume limit for these new OEL series, becuase I’m more likely to take a chance on something new if I don’t have to commit to reading a long multivolume series to find out where the story is going. Bizenghast was entertaining, but I’m not totally sure if I’m going to buy the last couple volumes due to my rapidly ballooning monthly manga expenses.

One thing that I thought was totally weird, was the about the author paragraph listed in the back of the book. Looking over at LeGrow’s site, it sounds like someone over at Tokyopop wrote the paragraph without consulting her. The Tokyopop page for Bizenghast also features a summary that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. So I hope someone at Tokyopop gets their act together.