DeFilippis, Nunzio & Weir, Christina (story); Silvan, Rhea (art)
OEL Manga – Drama, horror, romance, supernatural
3 Volumes (complete)
Nicholas is orphaned after his parents’ deaths. Jill, the daughter of a lawyer, is upset about moving to this area but tries to cheer him up. As they explore Nicholas’ family heirlooms, they find a pocket watch with the word “everlasting” carved on it. Nicholas has a strange reaction to it, and the face he sees in the mirror is…?
Dracula Everlasting would have been super awesome if the creators had let the witch be the protagonist. But no, they decided to go with the usual type found in these sorts of stories.
FYI, for some reason, for the third digital volume, you flip the pages the Western way despite reading the story the Eastern way.
Dracula Everlasting opens with Abraham Van Helsing narrating the defeat of Dracula, although one of the latter’s followers is seen holding a pocket watch and proclaiming his master will return. We then fast forward to a funeral in modern times, that of Nicholas’ parents. Just as social services is about to talk to him, a lawyer from England, Miranda, cuts the social worker off and reveals Nicholas is about to inherit a huge sum of money, enough for him to live by himself. As the two women talk, Nicholas is approached by Jill, who happens to be the same age and can relate to losing a parent. Since Miranda has to handle the Harker estate, she and Jill move to Massachusetts from England. Nicholas is kind of an outcast at school with no real friends, and since Jill is the new girl at the same school, they become friends.
But Nicholas isn’t just inheriting a bunch of money; he’s getting a bunch of property as well, including a watch — the same watch from the opening. Nicholas starts acting strangely, even nearly biting Jill on the neck. But readers can see that in the broken mirror, it’s not Nicholas’ reflection but Dracula’s visage. Jill’s voice snaps him out of his trance. She storms out, but Dracula urges his host to accept his powers. Nicholas is torn between Jill and Dracula, but the two teens decide to consult a mystic in hopes of figuring out what’s going on. The shop owner freaks out upon seeing the watch and throws them out in fear. That night, Dracula takes over Nicholas’ body and kills her.
When this news reaches Hecate (Cate), the owner’s daughter, she is demands to know what happened. But it’s a mystery to the cops as well — the victim has two bite marks and has been drained of blood. The detective, Davis, urges Cate to leave it to the professionals, but Cate plans on using her mystic abilities to find the murderer. Then a whole family that shares the same family name as the servant from Dracula appears. One of the sons, Mason, decides to approach Nicholas as a friend in order for Dracula to be fully revived.
That’s a lot to take in, but that’s the gist. Dracula wants to rule in fear again, but pesky modern science and a reluctant host means that he can’t rampage freely. Meanwhile, Jill’s touch seems to turn Nicholas back to his regular self, and Cate’s magic leads her closer to the truth than anyone else.
In case it wasn’t clear from the opening, Cate > Jill. Cate is determined, confident, and powerful. Seriously, there are a ton of spells, everything for making long distance
phone mirror calls to reenacting earlier events to blasting fire. There may be a little too many spells, but maybe that’s because there’s nothing else like her magic in the manga. There are crystals and stuff, but heck, even Dracula’s abilities are just the usual “haha, guns can’t hurt me!!” and biting people to turn into slaves. I’m not sure if anybody can become a spellcaster or if you need to inherit the ability (mom was a Wiccan). Either way, she’s not only the main investigator in the story but the main fighter. As you might suspect, Cate is not just witchy in her talents, but her personality can be construed that way even before her mother’s death. But that would have been one of the reasons why she would have made a great protagonist — to see her change from someone who uses magic to deal with teenage annoyances to a young adult. Yes, we see some of this already thanks to Davis and Jill, but Dracula Everlasting could have worked as a fine supernatural horror story. Even the authors worried that Cate was overshadowing the story.
In the end, though, they say it’s Jill’s story. Jill… I don’t dislike her, but I’m not really gung-ho about her either. It’s nice that she was trying to console Nicholas even before she knew who he was, and she does try to help him by taking him to Cate’s mom’s shop even though she didn’t fully believe in the supernatural. But maybe my lukewarm feelings for her isn’t necessarily about her but rather her relationship with Nicholas. They don’t fall in love at first sight or anything, and maybe the story should have been written that way since it would be easier to understand. Nicholas has a crush on a popular classmate, and he starts hanging around her and her friends instead of Jill once Mason shows up. For almost a month, Nicholas took advantage of Jill. He would get his daily touch to prevent Dracula from overpowering his consciousness and then go hang out with a prettier, more popular girl. I don’t know how long Jill had been at the school at this point and how much longer until the ending, but in high school time, one month is quite a while to not pay attention to someone he later claims to love .
The ending is okay. During a key moment in the final battle, I thought, “Why wasn’t this tried before?”, and I think the story would have been more impactful with different ending. A lot of lives are forever altered because of Dracula’s revival, and I think an expanded epilogue would have been warranted. But Dracula Everlasting does have quite a few dramatic moments leading up to the final confrontation. As you might expect, Jill and others are skeptical that mysterious forces are involved in what’s going on in the story, but sooner or later, everyone is forced to believe. As far as I can tell (and also because of the author’s notes) Dracula Everlasting does well in tying itself to the original Dracula. But after Cate’s scenes, the best moments in the story are about the mother-daughter bond. That’s another reason why this could have put less focus on the love story here.
The art didn’t impress me too much on the cover. I thought the manga style was a little forced. But I was less bothered by the art in the actual books than I thought it would be. Of course, it doesn’t have the polish that most Japanese serialized work has (thanks to assistants), but even some manga from there look like Dracula Everlasting. The character designs and fashions are overall really good. Nicholas/Dracula’s design is the most impressive, especially when wearing Dracula’s cloak and outfit. The manga does feature a hefty amount of blood, but nothing excessive for the target audience. There are a couple of really good creepy scenes as well, especially involving one of Mason’s brothers. A few sexual jokes/insults are here, but nothing of note. I’m not sure if Dracula Everlasting really captured Jill’s and Miranda’s presumably British accents, but I do like the setting of Massachusetts and how it ties into history and myths of the area. It also doesn’t include too many pop culture references to make it feel dated. That’s good, as is the visuals.
Sometimes one character can elevate a whole work, and Cate does that for Dracula Everlasting. Although I think I would have preferred her to be the protagonist and had a different take on the story, I still enjoyed it.
DeFilippis and Weir have also collaborated on Amazing Agent Luna, Destiny’s Hand, Dragon Age comics, and more.