A Kaori Yuki manga set in a dark Victorianesque world, the series centers around a young earl, Cain Hargreaves. Cain is seventeen, apparently orphaned, rich and eccentric. Unfortunately, his family past will allow him no peace.Everybody in Cain's family, we are told, has a habit of studying poisons, and Cain is no different. With the aid of his trusted manservant Riff, he uses his knowledge of poisons to seek justice for murder victims, usually by poisoning the murderer. Both halves of the series (see below) begin with murder mystery short stories that Cain investigates before launching in to longer storylines concerning issues close to Cain himself.Like any good Crime and Punishment series, Count Cain brings up just about every kink under the sun. It has gothic sensibilities, as well as bad steampunk science. Abusive Parents, Incest, and Magnificent Bastards are a staple. Blood, death, tragedy, and madness also abound.The series was originally split into two halves, as the creator took a break to work on another series, Angel Sanctuary. The first part consists of four arcs collected in five volumes, entitled Count Cain. The second, done some years later, is eight volumes long and entitled Godchild.
Art Evolution: The art has changed a lot from the first volume to the fifth; then Kaori Yuki took a break from Cain to work on Angel Sanctuary, and when she took up Cain again, the art style was almost completely different from where she'd left off. The mangaka herself even makes note of this in one of the sidebars in Godchild.
Freudian Excuse: Averted. Cain would have some justification in invoking it, but he never does. Also averted with Jizabel; the excuse isn't so much "excuse" as it is the actual base of Jizabel's plot. His abuse isn't just a past event to spur revenge, but an actual plot point for the story and an ongoing point of development.
Gender-Blender Name: Apparently, Kaori Yuki thinks the names Cassandra, Jizabel and Gloria are unisex.
Coming from the other direction, Meriwether (or Merryweather) is traditionally a boy's name.
Good Scars, Evil Scars: Cain's scars are easily hidden; the villain in "Scold's Bridle" has hers on her face and wears a mask to hide them.
I Ate WHAT?: When Jizabel was a child, he owned a pet lamb that he spent a lot of time with. Alexis secretly had the lamb killed and served to Jizabel for dinner one day, promising him that he would be able to go see the lamb if he finished his meal. When Jizabel was nearly done, Alexis revealed what he had done with "I let you see him, didn't I? Did you enjoy Snark, Jizabel?"
In the Blood: There's a lot of discussion (and Angst) about to what extent Cain is or is not "cursed" by his bloodline, as well as whether or not Merry will be able to escape it. The latter issue is sidestepped when she turns out not to be his sister by blood.
Informed Deformity: Viola in "Scold's Bridle" wears a mask to hide her horrible scars, which turn out to be mild acid burns on an otherwise pretty face. But then, she is completely insane...
Ironic Nursery Tune: Many of the earlier cases are themed around a Mother Goose rhyme, and the entire series closes with "bids you all adieu" from Simple Simon.
The Jeeves: Riff, but subverted when it's revealed that he is even more mentally unstable than Cain is.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Cain, although as a subversion because he is not a villain. He is an anti-hero, but it's not Cain that innocent bystanders have to worry about, it's getting in the way of the people who are after Cain.
Only Six Faces: Particularly in run of Count Cain, most obviously when it came to young boys who all looked exactly the same. More or less avoided after the Art Evolution.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Invoked and then subverted, twice in Godchild. Cain doesn't seem to realize that he really should disguise himself more properly before walking into enemy base... Just what made him think it would be okay to just wear glasses after his blonde wig attempt had failed so much earlier?
Rule of Three: The finale features three instances of a character dying in another's arms— Jizabel held by Cassian, Alexis held by Ida/The Moon, and Cain held by Riff— the last being set apart by the fact that it was Riff who was dying, and Cain decided to stay with him.
Shown Their Work: Kaori Yuki likes to point out that she often has done the research...and jettisoned it in favor of a more interesting development which might otherwise be prevented.
Something Completely Different: An early chapter called Double inexplicably takes place in modern America, and has nothing to do with any of the recurring characters or plotlines.
"Double" is an early short story of Kaori Yuki. I don't know how it is in Japan, but at least in Germany it's rather normal to feature additional and unrelated shorts in single volumes of serial manga... so, no, it's really not "Count Cain". (granted, kaori Yuki manga get this treatment extremely often due to the ton of one-chapter stories she has written.)
Wig, Dress, Accent: Cain in a chapter of Godchild, minus the accent. He doesn't speak since, well, despite being beautiful like a woman, he sounds very much like a man. His disguise is really convincing, and nobody suspects a thing. It's already too late when Mayor Gloria realizes who that woman truly was.
Yandere: Mikaela. Anyone who got between her and Cain would meet a horrible death.
You Are Worth Hell: Frequently discussed by Cain and Riff, as Cain repeatedly claims he's damned and Riff promises to follow him to hell. The final nail in the coffin for Riff's Face-Heel Turn is when he tells Cain that he can go to hell alone.
Youngest Child Wins: Mary Weather is the only one to survive and she becomes head of the Hargreaves family. She also has the least amount of horrible things happen to her.