Since I started my reviews this week with an older shoujo action/suspense title, Ten yori mo Hoshi yori mo I decided I would continue with that theme and talk about yet another older shoujo series that is fraught with suspense, mystery, and danger. This is a 16-volume series that began in 1984, and actually won some awards in Japan for shoujo manga. Yami no Purple Eye is a supernatural suspense thriller with a lot of elements of horror, and a dash of romance thrown in. It’s very action-packed and intense. I was rather surprised at how brutal this story is, especially for a shoujo series! Shinohara Chie does a great job at keeping up a fast pace and throwing in plenty of insane twists and turns. Along with winning manga awards, this series was also animated as an OVA, and an 11-episode live action version was later produced in 1996. I picked up this entire series recently, and I’m glad I was able to get it all at once. I was on the edge of my seat most of the time, and having to wait for the cliffhangers that occur in this series would’ve probably made me crazy!
As with most shoujo series, our heroine, Rinko, starts off as a perfectly normal girl, living a perfectly ordinary life. However, she wouldn’t really have a manga about her if that fact didn’t change soon enough. Rinko lives with her parents and her younger sister. Every day, she goes to school with her childhood friend and blossoming love interest, “Shin-chan.” Life, which has been ordinary until now, is slowly starting to get a little strange for Rinko. Lately, she has been feeling kind of weird. She has been noticing her old birthmark a lot (consisting of a small patch of spots on one of her forearms). A turning point into the bizarre begins for Rinko one morning while she is making breakfast for her family. She drops a knife she was using, and it cuts her leg during its fall. The sight of her own blood dripping from her wound entrances Rinko, and she feels compelled to taste it. Soon she is licking the blood off her fingers. The action is extremely weird, and soon Rinko manages to snap out of it.
But the strangeness continues.
At school, one of her teachers, the elegant and beautiful Somehara-sensei notices Rinko’s unusual birthmark. She seems surprised to see it, and her interest is beyond what could be considered casual. Rinko is a bit baffled by the attention her mark receives, but doesn’t think much more of it. However, Somehara-sensei’s interest IS more than normal. In fact, she knows exactly what Rinko’s birthmark means, and she is already making plans.
Even more odd: at night, while passing a window, Rinko is shocked to see a strange reflection staring back at her. It is herself, but the eyes…. her eyes are glowing purple! She thinks it must be a trick of the light somehow, but it isn’t! Something weird is going on, something is happening inside of Rinko. Her glowing purple eyes, her weird new feelings, the birthmark, even Rinko can tell she is changed somehow.
Things spiral out of control for Rinko when she is suddenly attacked while on her way home from school the next day. Four men grab her and drag her into an alley, no doubt intending to rape her. Rinko panics and lashes out. Her fear and panic and boiling emotions are powerful, and she suddenly becomes unnaturally strong. Rinko breaks free from her captors, but what they now face is no longer the cute girl they had dragged into the alley. It is… a monster. Rinko disappears into the shadows, her eyes glowing brilliant purple. From the shadows, she strikes out at her attackers, moving as if possessed. With stunning force she tears the men apart, leaving behind a bloody scene of strewn limbs and battered bodies.
When Rinko awakes, she is naked, and in her bed at home. Shin-chan had found her belongings near a crime scene the police were investigating, and then found Rinko passed out in some nearby bushes. He brought her home. Rinko is dazed. She can’t quite grasp what happened. But one thing is clear. She is somehow no longer human. What she did was awful, yet violent instincts are rising inside of Rinko. She only has Shin-chan to cling to.
What follows is a fast-paced frenetic suspense story, as Rinko discovers the truth about her unusual DNA. She is one of a few people who have both human and feline DNA. Rinko has the ability to turn into a leopard, but it is not a fun adventure. It is a bloody and brutal experience, as she can be overwhelmed by animal instinct. To further complicate things, her teacher, Somehara-sensei suspects what Rinko is, and is determined to capture her and experiment on the girl. Shin-chan can’t believe what is happening to his childhood friend. Is this the Rinko he grew up with? Is she a monster? Rinko now faces danger and betrayal everywhere she turns. Who can she trust? How can she protect the ones she loves? Are there any more of her kind out there?
As I have mentioned, this can be a pretty violent series. While it isn’t gory, exactly, there is a lot of blood and some severed limbs. The crazy plot twists as Rinko faces one danger after another can get a bit overthe top, but it certainly kept me reading. About halfway through this series, the plot takes a dramatic turn and goes in a new direction that is equally interesting. I am not surprised that this series won some awards, it is a fun read. It is nice to take a break from the fluffy angst-filled high school romances sometimes 🙂