I first encountered “From Eroica With Love” in a fan-produced English translation published in fanzine format some years back. I was bowled over by the series, which I can only describe as a wonderfully loopy and self-aware micky-take of its own genre. I was delighted to hear that CMX have taken on the job of providing an official English translation for the series. They’ve done a very nice job of it, with excellent reproduction of the original artwork, and what I’m told is a faithful translation from the original Japanese text.
This first volume serves mainly to introduce the various characters, but it contains some very entertaining stories. It isn’t quite typical of the series as a whole, as it initially appears that three superpowered teenagers are amongst the main characters. In fact, they exist mostly to introduce Dorian Red Gloria, Earl of Gloria. He’s a very, very wealthy aristocrat who collects beautiful things, and his hobby is stealing art treasures. He’s also very beautiful himself, very, very queer, very, very flamboyant, and has an entourage of equally beautiful and gay young men.
The three teenagers disappear by the end of volume 1 and never return, which is good because they’re a lot less interesting than the other primary ongoing character, who doesn’t appear until part way through the book. Major Klaus Heinz von dem Eberbach is also a wealthy aristocrat. However, if he’s queer, he’s so far back in the closet he’s in danger of running into a lamppost, he’s a top Nato agent, he has no sense of humour, and he has no time for degenerates. Pity his path keeps crossing with Dorian, who is all the things he despises. Unfortunately for Klaus, Dorian is also brave, clever, resourceful, and a number of other things he admires and didn’t expect to find in a degenerate. The feeling’s mutual – Klaus is a good many things that Dorian despises, but he’s brave, clever, resourceful… and decidedly pretty…
However loopy the plots may get, they’re believable while you’re reading them, and there’s some fine and very funny story-telling. The characters are flawed but always sympathetic. The art is utterly gorgeous. The first story in this book is a bit tedious in places, but it’s the setup story and worth going through so that you have the background. Even if you’re not really into the “pretty young men” genre of manga, this one’s worth a look.
From Eroica with Love – Volume 1 (From Eroica With Love (Graphic Novels)) at amazon.com
From Eroica with Love: Volume 1 (From Eroica with Love) at amazon.co.uk
From Eroica with Love, Volume 1 from Barnes & Noble
From Eroica with Love, Volume 1 from Powell’s