#DRCL Midnight Children Vol. 1 Review: A Bold, Queer Dracula Retelling

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#DRCL Midnight Children Vol 1 Review
Credit: Shinichi Sakamoto / Grand Jump / Viz Media

Among the countless Dracula retellings, it's hard to find unique ones, but few are as exciting as #DRCL Midnight Children.

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What Is #DRCL Midnight Children About?

#DRCL Midnight Children is a surreal, gothic Dracula retelling written and illustrated by Shinichi Sakamoto. It began serialization in 2020.

The story honors Dracula's epistolary format and follows several viewpoints.

For the most part, we are grounded in the character of Mina Murray, the first and only female student in Whitby School.

As a poor girl from Lancashire who entered the school based on merit rather than family connection, she's teased by her male classmates.

Among her co-students, we meet diverse versions of characters we've encountered in Bram Stoker's classic tale, as well as new companions.

These include Arthur Holmwood, the secretly cowardly son of a noble family; Quincey Morris, a black boy from Texas; Joe Suwa, a Japanese photographer; and Luke/Lucy Westerna, the frail child of a noble family.

When Count Dracula and the evil he brings to Britain threaten Lucy, Mina and her classmates will band together against the vampire.

#DRCL Midnight Children Review

#DRCL Midnight Children Review
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Credit: Shinichi Sakamoto / Grand Jump / Viz Media

If you'd love a Dracula retelling that feels like a modern, diverse YA novel, #DRCL Midnight Children will give you everything you need.

The manga ages down several of Dracula's main characters, placing them at an English boarding school that welcomes students of all backgrounds.

Having read just Volume 1, it's hard to know just where the story is going.

So far, the manga has covered Count Dracula's mysterious arrival to England by boat, the beginning of Lucy's infection, and the reaction of those who care about her.

Despite covering these key plot points, #DRCL Midnight Children is different enough that it avoids being predictable.

If you weren't a fan of Dracula's gender politics, or if you always shipped Mina and Lucy, you might love what #DRCL Midnight Children does with both their characters.

Mina is an active and smart girl trying to make her mark in the world while struggling with the trauma of losing loved ones to the plague.

DRCL Midnight Children
click to enlarge
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Credit: Shinichi Sakamoto / Grand Jump / Viz Media

The character that is based on Lucy remains an enigma. By day, they present as a boy named Luke. At night, they appear to Mina as a girl named Lucy.

As a very surreal manga with several mind-bending panels, #DRCL Midnight Children doesn't explain if Lucy is trans, non-binary, or intersex, or if a literal transformation occurs.

Either way, this is a decidedly queer take — in a retelling of source material that lends itself well to LGBTQ+ interpretations — which will be very interesting to explore if done well.

The art is unique and quite different from shounen or shoujo gothic-style manga that simply beautifies everything.

#DRCL's style goes for a more surreal take, with eerie, dreamy, and occasionally inexplicable panels.

The characters aren't always conventionally beautiful, which further helps make the manga distinct.

#DRCL Midnight Children
Overall, #DRCL Midnight Children is a fresh and diverse Dracula adaptation that will leave vampire fans hungry for more.

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