He’s My Only Vampire
純血+彼氏 (Junketsu + Kareshi)
Shoujo – Romance, supernatural, drama, action
3 Volumes (ongoing) of 10 Volumes (Japanese, complete)
Kana was a track-and-field star, but after a certain incident, she’s had to give up her dream. One day, Kana spots someone who looks eerily like someone she knew, someone whom she thought was gone forever. Before their reunion can take place, Kana jumps in to save a girl and may now lose her own life…
Note: this review has been updated and can be found here.
So far, out of all Shouoto’s major hits (this series, The Demon Prince of the Momochi House, Kiss of the Rose Princess, and SLH~Stray Love Hearts), this feels like her worst by far.
Shouoto mentions she thought writing a vampire story would be difficult. Perhaps the problem lies in the fact she tried too hard to make her story stand out. Much of the story feels like she’s forcing a bunch of different ideas into the plot, but too many ideas at once spoil the manga. The story and the tone are both inconsistent, and even who is narrating the story changes on a dime. Fortunately, the translator does a good job of keeping the clarity up, but we can switch from one characters’ thoughts to another in just a couple of panels. Everything feels incredibly jarring from chapter to chapter and even page to page.
Without going into too many spoilers, the first volume seems like it is going to focus on Aki collecting all of the tattoos while Kana struggles to deal with her new status as well as (unknowingly) being in the middle of a love triangle between Aki and his brother. So let’s start our hunt of hyped-up, crazed creatures…by starting a helper’s club at school. In addition, Kana has to deal with her younger brother. Aren’t there enough things going on in the story without Masayuki’s problems? Even they don’t fully play into the mysteries that lie in He’s My Only Vampire. There’s just more pressing (and, more importantly, more interesting) issues. Even the whole issue of getting Kana’s club started is rather silly. Although the manga does try to show why this storyline at the end of the third volume, finding an Internet poster just doesn’t blend well with Aki’s main mission. The comedy bits feel forced (ha ha, Kana didn’t take Aki’s confession seriously), and the series tries to be sensual but is too clumsy on ramping up the sexual tension. It either focuses too much on dialogue or cuts out when the opportunities arise. Finally, the series does not just include vampires. While this in of itself is neither good nor bad, it’s bad when the series doesn’t fully explain all the different creatures or hierarchy.
Kana is likable since although she tries to be strong, she can’t help but have psychological scars. She doesn’t back down easily, and, for once, these scenes of bravery are not just when she goes, “Don’t hurt humans!” like in many other manga. She tries to fight but also doesn’t risk others’ safety. She’s a bit dense like most shoujo heroines, but her biggest flaw is how accepting she is of her new circumstances. I would think someone as practical as Kana would at least ask for more answers instead of being worried about pushing Aki away. Meanwhile, Aki is pretty much a wanna-be yandere. Fortunately, he is not violent toward Kana. Although we get to see how Aki tries to protect her, we also get access to his yandere-like thoughts. He’s definitely not the best of Shouoto’s heroes. Besides the two of them, there’s only one other main character. So far, he’s pretty comfortable being just a friend, but I doubt that will last. He is a nice guy, but his true identity is a bit overused in these types of series.
If you’ve ever read any of Shouoto’s other works, you are bound to recognize characters from here. Shouoto’s characters are basically members of Tezuka’s Star System. Kana with her short hair is probably the most visually unique compared to the rest of the characters. I can’t argue Shouoto’s art is not beautiful, especially in the color inserts. The series has a gothic touch, and this is reflected both in setting and in attire. I feel like she does struggle more with drawing Kana versus her other characters since she doesn’t want to draw her too feminine but not have her look too much like a guy. In addition, her action scenes are pretty weak here. Most of the battles are just bent lines to represent the characters’ powers with a punch or kick thrown in. The artist uses heavy inking and screentones in most of the volumes, but she lays off in the less serious scenes. The paneling is affecting by the constant switching between scenes and characters’ thoughts. Despite my gripes, it’s still very eye-catching.
Firstly, while this series is better known in English as Pureblood + Boyfriend, but Yen Press just went with the series’ subtitle as the English title. One thing I liked about the Japanese title was the “+” in the title; while this isn’t actually read as part of the name, the mark does refer to a specific key item in the series. Plus I think Pureblood + Boyfriend already sounds like a vampire love story, but oh well.
Anyways, honorifics are used. However, the “sama” honorific is replaced with “master” and “lady” in volume three. I guess the translator thought the English titles fit better than the Japanese ones when dealing with Western creatures. It’s a little odd since his retainer had already called him “Aki-sama” but switches to “Master Aki” in volume three. Overall, this is an good adaptation. Dialogue is both smooth and faithful. Kana’s position is called a “thrall” here, an old word for someone in captivity or bondage. The Japanese version uses the Japanese word for slave/subordinate. I guess “thrall” sounds more exotic and has less of a negative connotation than “slave”. Same with “yakai” (“evening party”) being called a “soiree” here. One character is a tengu, but there are no notes explaining what a “tengu” is for manga newbies.
I wasn’t enTHRALLed by this series. (Get it?) It just feels too disjointed in all aspects. Perhaps the manga will become more cohesive in later volumes.
Shouoto’s Kiss of the Rose Princess and The Demon Prince of the Momochi House are currently being published by Viz Media. The other series I mentioned, SLH~Stray Love Hearts!, is unlikely to get an English release. I don’t think any series from Sylph, the magazine in which it was serialized, has ever been released in English.