Manga Spotlight: Millennium Snow

Millennium Snow is a shojo manga series by Bisco Hatori, and it focuses on a young woman who is dying and the supernatural beings that she meets.

Millennium Snow
Written by: Bisco Hatori
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Dates: April 3-July 3, 2007 (Volumes 1 and 2),
June 3-December 2, 2014 (Volumes 3 and 4)

At the beginning of the series, the reader is introduced to 17-year-old girl named Chiyuki (whose name literally means “Millennium Snow”). She was born with heart problems and it appears she may soon be dying. Right at the beginning of the volume, she meets a young man named Toya and learns that he is a vampire. At first, he wants nothing to do with her and refuses to drink her blood and make her his partner for a thousand years. But when Chiyuki is on her deathbed, Toya provides her with some of his blood to keep her alive. This act heals Chiyuki, and she’s able to return to school. She even manages to get Toya to enroll at the school without his knowledge, and this leads to a somewhat comedic scene.

Right from the onset, it becomes evident that there’s going to be some kind of attraction between Chiyuki and Toya. Chiyuki realizes it rather quickly, but Toya keeps trying to deny his feelings to himself. But when Toya uses the trope of being so openly hostile toward Chiyuki at first, it’s obvious that the story will eventually see some kind of romantic tension blossom.

That romantic tension is kicked up a notch with the introduction of Satsuki, a smooth talking guy who is classmates with Chiyuki and Toya. Satsuki appears to be interested in Chiyuki, and it’s revealed that he’s actually a werewolf. So now, not only is Chiyuki part of a typical love triangle in a shojo manga, her two suitors are both supernatural beings. And to make things worse, Toya and Satsuki are natural enemies. Things become even more complicated with Chiyuki’s older cousin, Keigo Kuramati, is protective of her because of her health and tries to separate Chiyuki and Toya.

There is one element of Millennium Snow that makes it stand out from other shojo manga, which is Toya’s bat, Yamimaru. He’s there to provide comic relief, especially for scenes where it would be unnatural for the main characters to be humorous. But he also provides exposition about Toya, especially early on when Chiyuki is first getting to know him. Yamimaru also stands out as a character due to his speech patterns.

While the overall story relies a lot on shojo and supernatural tropes, the conclusion of it is actually rather bittersweet. While the couple the reader expects to be together does indeed end up together, there’s still some sadness when you realize what would have had to happen to other characters at the point in time the story ends at. I can’t say more than that in order to avoid spoilers, but it’s definitely a bittersweet way to end the series.

When it comes to the art, the characters have the designs one would expect from a shojo manga. The main male characters have a bishonen (“beautiful boy”) look to them, and Chiyuki has the long hair and facial features generally associated with the female lead. To be honest, there’s not much to the art to make Millennium Snow stand out from other shojo manga series.

As a whole, I would have to say that the first two volumes in the series are stronger than the third and fourth volumes. The first two volumes have strong development for the series and the characters, but Hatori ended up taking a 10 year break at the point where the second volume of Millennium Snow ends, and the reader can notice a drastic difference in both plot progression and character designs when the third volume starts. Unfortunately, the pacing of the story, especially in the fourth volume, feels a lot more rushed compared to the first two volumes in the series. There were times in Volume 4 that the story felt a little jumpy and was a little hard to follow at first until I re-read some sections multiple times. The 10 year break that Hatori took for Millennium Snow ultimately hurt it in the end. It’s a series that has a very promising start, but ends up falling a little flat by the time it ends.

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