Monday, 1 August 2011

: ヴァンデミエールの翼 / Vandemieeru no Tsubasa / Wings of Vendemiaire

I read Wings of Vendemiaire for one reason: because it was written by Kitoh Mohiro, also behind the excellent and harrowing NaruTaru and Bokurano. And I ended up wishing this obscure two-volume title could be less obscure, and could be animated to a high standard, perhaps as an OVA series. It may not be the best of his works as a whole, but I think it quite probably the best of his premises.

His debut manga, it is remarkably sophisticated and elegant, with many of the themes of his later work, including adolescents sacrificing themselves, flights in airships and jaded cynicism about the value of life. In a European post-war setting, there exist strange living puppets, made of wood but living beings with distinct personalities and, it would seem, feelings and desires of their own. The puppets are known as Vendemiaire, which they also take as their names. Some are somewhat empty slates, learning mannerisms from others, while others have manipulative owners who have forced them into specific roles.

Prefiguring Rozen Maiden, and particularly the more angst-ridden sub-plots featuring Souseiseki and Suigintou, the whole work is pervaded by Kitoh’s characteristic melancholy. The stories are beautiful and tragic and simple, and the art is his usual mixture of fragile youths, faces that do not necessarily signify beauty and beautifully-rendered aircraft in the midst of a lot of white space.

The only way I would see this improved would be the addition of more than a handful of small references to tie together all the Vendemiaire puppets, perhaps some common cause for them as a climax. But the disparate, episodic nature lends to the bleakness of the situation and this is after all not intended as a conventional story. But it is too beautiful to be an obscure two-volume release read only by fans of other Kitoh Mohiro works. I want it to find a wider audience.

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