Review: Venus Versus Virus Omnibus Collection 1 (Vols. 1-3)

High school is full of enough challenges for a young girl without having to deal with malicious spirits known as viruses. However, when Sumire is shot by the enigmatic virus hunter Lucia during a fight with a virus, Sumire’s world is altered completely. Not only does Sumire now have to work for Lucia in her clothing store, a front for her virus hunting business, but she herself has also been affected by the anti-virus bullet and has become a latent-Virus hunter herself. Sumire may lack the skill initially to be an excellent virus hunter, but as the threat of viruses against her friends and loved ones increases she decides to apprentice directly under Lucia to hone her powers.

Venus Versus Virus is a shonen story through and through. Of course, high school girls with guns, immense powers, and near-yuri moments often make for quality shonen material, so finding this manga to be so apparently shonen is not a complaint so much as an observation on my part. Anyways I’d imagine that with a cover such as Venus Versus Virus has, where young Lucia sits smoking, bullet in one hand, with gun in the other, one might be drawn to make that conclusion before even opening the book. Whatever evidence leads a reader to such a conclusion will likely also be the very reasons one might question Venus Versus Virus’s originality. Indeed I felt many times early on in the story that I’d entered a world paved by Bleach, Buso Renkin, and Shakugan no Shana, and many other titles in the shonen genre. For instance, Sumire’s initial involvement and power acquisition begins much like Kazuki’s in Buso Renkin. Likewise Sumire has to battle with her inner power in much the same way that Ichigo and Naruto do. Thankfully though as I progressed through the Omnibus, I realized that the similar character motivations, origins, and emotions used are brought forth not because of a lack of imagination on the author’s part, but because of the strong sense of connection readers have with those elements. I always imagined for instance that Naruto’s and Ichigo’s inner struggles were metaphorical and represented their own struggles in their own ‘coming of age’, and Sumire’s transformation and involvement I believe represent those same feelings and emotions. Considering that the typical target Shonen fan is predominantly male, in their teens, and interested less in emotions and more in monsters (at least I was), then I think Venus Versus Virus does a good job at carrying over these deeper emotions connected with youth, love, etc. in a familiar package laced with ghosts, fighting, and a gun toting gotchic Lolita character.

What made me enjoy Venus Versus Virus the most was the unique interplay, or lack thereof, between the characters. In particular for a manga that seems to have two main characters, Lucia representing the world foreign to us and Sumire representing our world, I see surprisingly less and less interaction between the two characters as the story proceeds. Part of this is due in particular to Sumire’s own maturing feelings, as she begins to tag along with a boy she likes, but the separation develops too because of Sumire’s own power which, much like Naruto’s and Ichigo’s, can at times lead her to be violent towards friends and foes alike. Therefore Sumire tries to become stronger on her own to control her ‘outbursts’, but all the while Lucia, herself a seemingly fearsome virus hunter, seems to become weaker and more emotionally fragile as the story progresses. Knowing how manga stories tend to be I’m sure that given time the two will share more of themselves, thoughts and feelings, and they’ll become each other’s support, more as equals and not as teacher/student. However, seeing such a strong independent personality in Sumire, and at the same time seeing Lucia’s own developing struggles, makes for a pleasantly unique lead in for what promises to be exciting action to follow.

Considering the format of the Omnibus, which features the first 3 volumes, I feel this is probably the best way to read Venus Versus Virus. If a manga doesn’t hook you after three volumes then I feel it’s probably not worth reading, and while my interest was piqued early on I feel that many of Venus Versus Viruses’ more distinct qualities come out in the latter portion of the Omnibus. Early on the familiar feel of too many shonen manga clichés still linger, but as time progresses the story evolves and Venus Versus Virus becomes on its own merits a pleasant read. If you like shonen style action, female leads, and the paranormal then Venus Versus Virus Omnibus would likely be of interest to you.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

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