Victoria’s Electric Coffin Volume 1: Corpse Meets Girl



Square Enix has really been making a push to get their series into the English market, and for a publisher joining the game so late they’ve done a great job with picking out series like Victoria’s Electric Coffin. A (New York-based) iteration of the Frankenstein story, Victoria’s Electric Coffin volume 1 forgoes a lot of the typical formula for Frankenstein, opting to repackage it in a rather shounen-friendly form. Focusing on the idea of a past and future existing through the transformation of our main character Eins, it’s a story told through the lens of penance for both lead characters, trying to lead a life that is able to absolve them of their past.

Though, spoilers, it’s very clearly setting up to provide the significance and impact that each brings with every moment they exist, rather than what they’re working towards. It’s a really great theme to see so well established so early on, and from a first-time mangaka. It’s not some incredibly thoughtful or abstract approach, but I think ultimately is something that hits it mark quite well. Let’s talk about that in more detail though.

As a narrative, every beat it ends up following is a good idea, but like many first-timers (as I’ve said incessantly up to this point) they fear length. Getting your feet under you and ensuring that you’ll get to keep going with a series can ultimately be more of a focus than the work itself. I wouldn’t go so far as saying that’s the case here, but I would say that Ikuno Tajima spends almost too little time in the first half of this volume with the plot points they explore. The whole religious angle is open and shut, preserved for a later date most likely. The idea of Eins facing up to his past through a child like him is just a sample of his character arc, and so on and so forth. Tajima quickly establishes these various threads of plot and character development- but just as quickly leaves them hanging.

I can’t say that I hate it as a mechanism for ensuring longevity while making sure that its beginning doesn’t start off too rocky, but the biggest offence is the fact that they have great angles but didn’t have the confidence to really settle for exploring just one to begin with. They’re all very great ideas, so being given “just” a taste of them is slightly aggravating. All the same, I do remain hopeful (and confident) that Tajima will further explore all aspects after Victoria’s Electric Coffin volume 1 gets all the obligatory details out of the way. Anyways, with the sole complaint out of the way, there’s really quite a bit to chat about in terms of the various strengths of this first volume.

First of all (pun intended), Victoria’s Electric Coffin volume 1 will absolutely make you think that Tajima is a seasoned mangaka with years of works under their belt. Of course, as I mentioned earlier however, they are a first timer. That sort of feat is endlessly impressive because of one thing- backgrounds. Environment art is something that’s rare to see expressed very well in manga, largely because it takes up so much time for such little impact (for the most part). Because of that, seeing such great environment art alongside Tajima’s character designs (we’ll get there), I’m inclined to shower Tajima with a great degree of praise. It’s no simple feat, and especially not with the level of detail they provide, even if it’s a monthly series.

Similarly, though I really should say much like everything else, character designs are not some trivial task either. Though, they seem to have hardly phased Tajima. In Victoria’s Electric Coffin volume 1 we do get quite a few different faces shown off, but you really only need Eins and Victoria to see how great their designs are. The axis of a good design for manga is ultimately treading the line between expressiveness and individuality. Simpler designs are certainly easier to work with, but present further challenges in imbuing those two ideas. While Tajima’s designs do trend towards simplicity, creating that uphill battle, they ultimately come out as very solid designs.

Finding a great balance between subtle and simple details as well as larger and more defining ones, Tajima is able to really set apart their characters while allowing all of them a great deal of flexibility, leading to sequences like the great facial expressions at the end of the volume where Henry and Victoria were in a bit of a quarrel. It can be challenging to pull of those “stronger” yet more nuanced emotions when dealing with not all that much detail, but even with that difficulty, Tajima finds considerable success. I’m really quite the fan of their work with Victoria, the way Tajima draws her scowling just looks incredibly good.

So, would I recommend Victoria’s Electric Coffin volume 1, even though there’s only two more volumes in the series? I probably would, yeah. It might end up a little shallow, but ultimately remains a display of talent for Ikuno Tajima. Victoria’s Electric Coffin doesn’t quite endeavor to reinvent the wheel with a Frankenstein story, but it does put the effort in to put some pretty damn cool rims on it to spice it up. It’s got plenty of style and energy, supplemented by (a little heavy-handed of) a story that expresses some strong themes, a healthy side of action, and doesn’t worry about taking itself all too seriously. For a story-driven series of only 3 volumes, it’s looking to do a lot of good with its limited time, so it’s rather easy to say that it’s worth it, if you like the idea (or art). I’d also say that if manga readers end up buying Victoria’s Electric Coffin in any decent amounts, we’re liable to see their current work in English (it’s really good and comes from a magazine Seven Seas has already licensed from).

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