While reading up on Karasuma Wataru‘s Deus x Machina, I noticed people were comparing Machina to Mina Tepes from Tamaki Nozomu‘s Dance in the Vampire Bund – some even claimed that Machina’s design bordered on plagiarism (Bund=2007, Deus=2008). It’d been too long since I’d read any of Bund to comment on that, so I checked it out to see how they compare.
I wouldn’t consider Deus x Machina plagiarism at all. The obvious similarities between Machina and Mina Tepes are that both are lolis, often portrayed in sexually suggestive poses which involve twisting their bodies a lot; both have a sort of commanding presence (Machina especially); and most notably, they both wear long hair in twintails.
That all said, Karasuma and Tamaki have entirely different artstyles. Tamaki draws his characters with a lot of round lines and uses toner on their skin, whereas Karasuma draws his characters to be more sharp and uses toner sparingly. Both artists have detailed backgrounds, but with totally different approaches – Tamaki’s are always dark and gothy, while Karasuma’s are bright and more normal-looking. When it comes to paneling, I think Karasuma has a better sense of space, especially for his action sequences.
With regards to the Machina and Mina Tepes comparison, the first big difference is that Mina Tepes is drawn to look especially young, to play up the fact that she’s a centuries-old vampire in the body of a young girl. Machina, however, actually appears older than her stature and body might suggest; I wouldn’t be surprised if she were in her late teens. The girls have similarly pointy eyes, though Mina’s eyes only resemble Machina’s when she’s tauntingly confident, while Machina’s eyes are like that 24/7. The twintails on the girls are not dissimilar, but Mina’s bangs are more concentrated in the center of her face, while Machina’s are evenly dispersed.
That said, just because they’re different doesn’t mean that Dance in the Vampire Bund couldn’t have been an influence on Deus x Machina. Beyond Machina’s design, the thing that suggests this influence the most is the cover of Deus x Machina chapter three:
Which most likely pays homage to this commonly-used piece of art from Dance in the Vampire Bund:
Personally, I prefer the art and designs in Deus x Machina, but I think both series are fairly nice-looking.