Chibi Vampire: Airmail
かりん airmail 影崎由那短編集 (Karin Airmail Kagesaki Yuna Tanhenshuu)
Shounen – Comedy, romance, supernatural, mystery, horror
14 Volumes (complete)
Tokyopop / Viz Media
A young girl’s college-age neighbor is crying up a storm. A fortuneteller tries helping a young man search for his girlfriend. A nun and a young man bond over manga. Another young man finds out his first crush is his classmate’s mom. As all these people find out, life is strange.
Chibi Vampire: Airmail can be — and should be — skipped.
Note that this volume should be read after the Chibi Vampire manga and light novels. As such, there will be some spoilers for the main series.
Firstly, the title is a bit of a misnomer. Only two of the four stories here are related to Chibi Vampire, and they aren’t even the first two in the volume!
But I’ll start with those two since they’re probably what you’re most interested in.
The third story in the volume is set in Germany. We meet a couple more members of the Marker family (including another Karin/Elda twin), one of which is an otaku. He forms an odd friendship with a nun over manga. The nun, of course, has heard stories of vampires but doesn’t know anything about modern-day vampires. Her friend and his aunt disagree on interacting with humans, and the story continues from there. The fourth story stars another classmate of Karin’s, a boy who is Maki’s childhood friend. He develops a crush on Fumio, but he knows the age gap is too much. You can pretty much guess how this one ends.
Out of all the characters in Chibi Vampire, I don’t understand why Kagesaki chose to write about new ones. There’s a lot of questions I could ask about this universe, but I must admit I never wondered, “Who did Maki marry?” I would be much more interested in how Anju spent her life, especially since she was the one most devastated by Karin’s memory loss. Anju is not only a part of the fertile Armash family but also a very powerful vampire. While the original series states only the Marker siblings are unmarried, I highly doubt other vampires would just let Anju remain alone for long. They’d probably find someone if Europe if they’re desperate. Meanwhile, Ren has a child, and both the main series and this volume mention the son is ignored by Ren. How does the son feel? Who will he grow up to be with if he and Anju are the only known young vampires in Japan? Kagesaki could have even written a story about James’ plan to save the Armash family from his point-of-view. I don’t care about Maki’s sudden childhood friend!
I do admit to wondering about European vampires, but I’d rather read about the Japanese vampires than Frederick. We as readers already know from the main series that humans and vampires can get along. Henry was already shown to have watched over his victims, so this is hardly groundbreaking information. Even Anju, in her own way, was seen caring for a couple of her classmates. Frederick’s story is more interesting than the fourth, but that’s not saying much.
Now I’ll go cover the first two stories.
What can I say about the first story? If you want to get someone into manga, do not start with this. By the third page, a fourth grader has to wipe an adult’s butt since he went number two in his pants. I can’t even believe I had to write that. Yeah, not a great way to start Airmail. Granted, the teenager, Takuma, honestly believes he’s a baby, but it’s disturbing, not funny. Poor Marimo is going to need therapy along with Takuma. She is not only worried about her parents’ disappearance, but she gets yelled at when Takuma returns to normal. Anyways, the manga ends in a fairly typical way. (No lolicon in case you’re worried or interested.) I couldn’t wait to finish this story. It’s pretty pointless, and the moral is weak.
The second (and final) story is about a fortuneteller down on her luck. She eventually agrees to help a young man find his missing girlfriend. You will probably see many of the twists in advance, but, suffice to say, this story is disturbing. It’s not as stomach-churning as Marimo cleaning up Takuma’s mess, but this story is definitely in a different genre than the soulful Chibi Vampire. Out of the four stories, this is probably the most interesting, but it’s not to everyone’s tastes.
So there you have it: a fourth-grader forced to take care of an adult, a dark mystery, two unusual friends, and childhood friends. And this retailed for $10.99?! None of these stories is even worth paying the shipping to acquire. You won’t gain a greater understanding of the Chibi Vampire universe from this, and the other two stories are okay at best. (That’s pushing it in the first story’s case.) If you do find a copy, you can quickly breeze through it. There’s a few panels about Kagesaki’s trip to the U.S., and the volume is padded by a long preview of the Tokyopop series Ratman. Characters are uninteresting, the stories are dull…it’s a waste of money.
As for the art, it’s identical to Chibi Vampire. Her slight art shift can be seen in her previous series, and this just picks up right where she left off. Since this volume doesn’t star vampires, it’s noticeably brighter than Chibi Vampire. A lot more whitespace is used, and we see her draw more typical-looking characters like the young Marimo. So if you liked the art in Chibi Vampire, you’ll be happy to know it’s identical. If not, well, then I guess you have another reason not to buy Airmail.
I’m not going to go into the translation here. I will say a different person took over both the translation and adaptation. The manga seems a bit more consistent (“Maki-chan” is used instead of switching between that and “Maki”), but it’s easier to be consistent in one volume versus a series.
PASS. The only people who should buy this are those fans who met Kagesaki at Sakura Con. This volume is both boring and unnecessary. The English version should have kept the “Yuna Kagesaki Short Story Collection” in the title to make it more clear this is not a volume of Chibi Vampire-related stories.
Tokyopop released the main series, the fanbook (Chibi Vampire: Bites), and the light novels based on this series. Viz Media picked up the main series and Airmail under their digital-only Viz Select line. Tokyopop also licensed Kagesaki’s AiON, and Viz rescued the only two volumes printed for a digital release.