Millennium Snow is back! And it’s almost over! After waiting ten years (since Hatori left off; seven for the last published version in America) for the conclusion of this series, it’s both a relief and a disappointment to have it back in my hands. A relief because, finally, fans will get the conclusion they’ve been waiting for, and a disappointment because it’s only two little volumes. It was never meant to be a long series to begin with, but even so, it’s hard not to want more of Chiyuki and Toya.
If you’re not familiar with the story, Millennium Snow is about a high school girl named Chiyuki who suffers from a heart condition. She shouldn’t have lived as long as she has, and her body has been growing progressively weaker, resulting in more time spent in hospitals than outside them. One day she meets Toya, a young vampire who dislikes blood and chooses to eat vast quantities of human food to keep his energy up instead. It’s not exactly efficient, as he tires easily and can collapse after any exertion of his powers. There’s a simple solutions, however. All he has to do is find a human partner to share their blood, and the two of them can live out the next one thousand years together. That’s also the problem. Toya can’t even imagine living out a thousand year life span himself. The future is so uncertain, and he can’t possibly drag someone else into it with him, nor does he think anyone would want to stay with him that long. He’s moved by Chiyuki, a weak human who still has a strong love of life and a warm heart. When Chiyuki has a life-threatening attack, Toya can’t bear to see her life end already, or be abandoned by someone who has so willingly accepted him, so he gives her just enough blood to temporarily cure her and extend her life. Eventually a werewolf named Satsuki, who does his best to live a ‘normal’ life despite his condition. The opposite of Toya, who doesn’t really try to hide what he is, Satsuki is determined to be accepted by others as a normal high school boy. Chiyuki starts helping them both learn to accept themselves.
Which leads to volume 3. Toya begins to learn more and more about the strength of humans, beings he has long considered weak. It’s in no small part to Chiyuki who continues to push him to expand his boundaries, and is herself continually surprising him with her own strength and kind heart. A killer is on the loose, and rumors immediately begin flying around school that mysterious school nurse Ms. Nito is the killer. It isn’t helped by her strange outings in the winter snow, where she was seen burying something. Chiyuki refuses to believe Ms. Nito is bad, however, because she’s always been a good nurse and cares about the students despite her odd demeanor. She finds the strength in Ms. Nito’s heart and shows it to Toya. Chiyuki continues trying to find ways to convince Toya his life is worth living, even for a thousand years. Her hunt is helped along by the quiet and often bullied Kaede, who has a love for literature, especially old poetry with words and feelings that transcend hundreds or thousands of years. Unfortunately, Kaede has been feeding some very unpleasant words to a kotonushi, a fox-like creature that consumes words. If the words are kind, the spirit is kind; if the words are hateful, then so is the spirit. Kaede has been visiting the ailing spirit to feed it message board posts that say hateful and hurtful things about her. Once they realize what’s really going on, Toya, Satsuki, and Chiyuki run to protect her. They’re not the only ones who have been watching Kaede, however, and things take a dangerous turn. The volume ends with an old bonus chapter depicting Toya and Yami’s first meeting, and the early days of their relationship when Toya was still a child.
Right off what you’ll notice about the new volume is the improvement in art style and character design. Hatori has years of Ouran High School Host Club under her belt now, but most of the characters look the same. The one with the biggest change is the adult version of Yami, with the bishounen level kicked up about 80%. The tone is also a little bit lighter and more energetic, but the serious portions are also equally more mature. The best part: MORE MILLENNIUM SNOW THANK YOU HATORI. Second best part: Viz Media re-released volumes 1 and 2 as an omnibus. So if you missed it the first time around, have no fear, just go out and pick up the new version. Then get volume 3, then pre-order volume 4. Admittedly I might be biased by nostalgia here, or my love for Ouran, but I don’t particularly care. Millennium Snow is touching, warm, sweet, and just plain lovely. I’m particularly fond of her inclusion of other supernatural elements besides Toya the vampire, like this volume’s kotonushi spirit. It’s not over done, nor does it detract from the main story, but it’s a good way to broaden the world the story takes place in. It also illustrates that Toya isn’t alone, because there are others like him who aren’t human, but are still accepted by humans.