The questions of destiny, life and death will ring hollow and pretentious for those not willing to surrender to this manga's beautiful art. The tale is populated by gorgeously aloof creatures, impossibly long-limbed with darkly fringed cats' eyes and cascades of hair that frame masklike faces. Alichino are a form of demon, mystical beings that grant deeply held wishes in return for souls. Only one person is able to slay them, Tsugiri, but he's faced with an unexpected bond with one of his hereditary enemies. Tsugiri is a typical goth hero in that he's haunted by destiny and cursed by being special, but the fantasy situation allows a strong expression of such themes as searching for one's place in the universe and trying to make decisions while manipulated by forces beyond one's control. The story, nothing to write home about and sometimes hard to follow, is simply a vehicle for the lovely goth characters. The landscapes, ornate chambers and sweeping natural vistas are similarly detailed and the visual richness threatens to overcome readers. Fans of such manga as Paradise Kiss and xxxHOLiC should be equally mesmerized by these androgynous aristocrats. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.