In Murciélago Volume 2, Kuroko safeguards Miyuki while thwarting the murder plot of a bitter millionaire who collects grudges, death traps, and victims in his mansion by the sea instead of unicorns, and instead of a red bull, this King Haggard has a murderous maid that is immune to pain and dead to humor. Kuroko’s mixture of mad skills and bad judgment inexorably ensure that she will both survive the horrorshow manor and put the moves on the deadly, deadpan maid as well—even after she has severed one of the maid’s arms and slain her employer—and it is in doubt that her favors will come to rest on Miyuki.
Due to the attraction between the heroine and the women in the supporting cast, many will see Murcielago as a yuri manga1, but make no mistake, this is predominantly an action-oriented manga, and the yuri element is a modicum of fanservice. If you took a random Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, and inserted a dozen glib jokes about his character’s attraction to men, it would still be predominantly an action movie. Similarly, there’s no reason that a heroine that prefers women can’t be the lead in any imaginable genre, and Murcielago is so interesting because while it is a fairly formulaic action and suspense manga, it has a non-normative, LGBTQ, lead.
I should clarify that while I’m recommending that Murcielago be considered action genre despite and because of its lead’s sexual orientation, I’m not advocating this as must-read manga. Mucielago excels artistically, in crafting a wide variety of repulsive and hilarious facial expressions and in chopping out an interesting arrangement of pages and panels; it is remarkable as an honest attempt to enlarge the scope of the most staid genre, action; and, the writing can be humorous, though as often as not the gags are writhing on the floor having failed to deliver. Also on the down side, the plot appears special ordered—along with all of the antagonist’s deadly devices—from the Gothic Mansion section of Wile E. Coyote’s ACME catalog. Such a unique protagonist deserves a narrative that seems tailored to them, and this is not that. The supporting cast is also a little weak. The police are mouthpieces of exposition; the millionaire’s victims are meatheads destined for the slaughterhouse; and, Miyuki is more bland than cute, so that you might as well call her McGuffin. Overall, Murcielago Volume Two was more hits than misses, but my enjoyment would have been accentuated by a less ready-made plot and more attention to the supporting cast.
Murcielago Volume 2 arrived in stores on May 23rd, 2017, and if you find it sold out, you can buy it through this link to the Yen Press page.
Yen Press sent the review copy.
1 Of the two extant online English-language reviews of this volume, the one that labels it yuri makes it sound like a GLOW wrestling match (‘smoking hot killers…in the most bloody, gruesome battle you have ever seen between woman (sic)’) and insinuates that ‘There is (sic) definitely a few things that you have to overcome in order to actually enjoy this manga’ without telling us what those things to overcome are, and leaving us to conclude that they are homophobia and other complexes.