Manga Reviews Reviews Yen Press

Manga Review: Cirque Du Freak (Vol 1. Omnibus, 2021) By Darren Shan & Art by Takahiro Arai

Takahiro Arai brings the world of "Cirque Du Freak" to life with a wonderfully macabre aesthetic that homages manga series of the past.

was an average kid until destiny brought him to the . Now Darren's immersed in a shadowy world inhabited by vampires, werewolves, and strange creatures the likes of which he's never imagined, and his life will never be the same! Discover the manga adaptation of internationally acclaimed author Darren Shan's Cirque Du Freak, here in a new oversize, deluxe omnibus format!” (Yen Press)

The new horror-lite series, collected in omnibus form and published by Yen Press, adapts the YA series of the same name from Darren Shan. Taking lead from the source material, the manga adaptation leads with an art style that both captures childlike wonderment and fascination with the macabre.

's approach favours a classical approach in using rounded figures over sharp lines, resulting in a style reflective of 80's manga. A perfect combination given the story's narrative taking place within the informative years of a young boy obsessed with horror. Consequently the series captures horror with a youthful sense that is more focused on finding spiders and vampires ‘cool' instead of on graphic violence or extreme subject matter. However, the approach of Takahiro Arai really comes into its own when he is designing monsters and larger than life figures. In particular, his use of over elongated features gives key characters like Mr. Tall and Mr. Creepsly a strong commanding presence. Overall, the art should appease fans of the YA adult series with its wonderful renditions of the characters with its spirited and accessible aesthetic.

While the novel has more narrative depth than a manga, “Cirque Du Freak” is as near perfect as a reader will get to an engrossing series based off written work. Adversely, if you are coming to this unfamiliar with the novel series, the story stands strong on its own merit. This also speaks to Yen Press in publishing the series in omnibus form, with their choices for series to present this way reflecting an understanding of presenting complimentary blocks of narrative. As a result, this release not only explores Darren's vampiric origins, but also explores the fascinating crew of the circus before ending on a pivotal moment in Darren's development. Overall, the first omnibus release offers a great intro to the series and gives good reason to be excited for the next volume.

The flyer that would tie Darren's fate to the titular circus

Takahiro Arai creates a wonderfully pleasing aesthetic with his adaptation of “Cirque Du Freak” that really brings Darren and the circus to life. With myself having a deeper love of more mature horror elements, this series was a wonderful deviation that captured my love of the bygone era of manga. Additionally, as a kid who grew up with a fascination of all things creepy the series design and themes swept me up in a warm nostalgia that left me wanting more. If any reader resonates the same love of 80's manga aesthetic, or the macabre, “Cirque Du Freak” is a great series to explore.

About the author

Adam Symchuk

Adam Symchuk is a Canadian born freelance writer and editor who has been writing for Asian Movie Pulse since 2018. He is currently focused on covering manga, manhwa and light novels having reviewed hundreds of titles in the past two years.

His love of film came from horror and exploitation films from Japan that he devoured in his teens. His love of comics came from falling in love with the works of Shuzo Oshimi, Junji Ito, Hideshi Hino, and Inio Asano but has expanded to a general love of the medium and all its genres.

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