Manga Review – He’s My Only Vampire [Redux]

He's My Only Vampire Volume 1

He’s My Only Vampire
純血+彼氏 (Junketsu + Kareshi)
SHOUOTO Aya
Shoujo – Action, drama, horror, romance, supernatural
10 Volumes (complete)
Yen Press

Summary:

After a certain incident, Kana had to give up doing track-and-field. Still trying to find something to replace that part of her life, Kana suddenly 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…

Review:

He’s My Only Vampire takes too long to get interesting then buckles under the weight of its own story.

The first volume goes over the basic setup: Aki turns Kana into his virtually immortal foodsource (a thrall). A vampire still has treat their one-and-only thrall well as when one dies, the other does too. Kana is happy to see one of her childhood friends again despite her hazy memory, and Aki explains he has come to Kana’s hometown to participate in a contest to gather supernatural tattoos named after the seven deadly sins. After he gathers the STIGMAs from those who possess them, Aki says he’ll “return” his twin Eriya to Kana.

So, I’m sure you have a picture in your head: a love triangle involving twins and a magical battle for mysterious objects of power. But one twin is absent for much of the story and the fight for STIGMA is more of a “should-I-collect-it-and-when” rather than a hunt or a brawl. This no doubt makes the story sound boring, but this isn’t the issue. He’s My Only Vampire simply can’t decide what kind of manga it wants to be. Most of the time, it’s a “tragic bond of blood”-type story that most of us are familiar with by now. But then there is the “collect ’em all” element that Shouoto previously used in Kiss of the Rose Princess. Misunderstandings about who Kana loves. Sexual tension in the vein of Black Bird. Amnesia. Rebirth. Tengu. Angels. Creating a club help around the school. Cross-dressing for a play. (What the–?)

Shouoto mentions she thought writing a vampire story would be difficult. Perhaps she tried too hard to make her story stand out. I love some of her ideas, but too many at once spoil the manga. Between all the mysteries surrounding Eriya’s disappearance and the hidden supernatural society, we also get a group adventure at a hot springs. Sure, lots of manga have lighter chapters, but the humor of He’s My Only Vampire just doesn’t work. Ha ha, Kana didn’t understand Aki’s roundabout pass at her. Yeah, Aki has to fight a deathmatch in front of spectators, but I’d rather read about tracking down an online troll. (This is all sarcasm by the way.) Even a lot of the drama is muted by its own plot developments. We just had a rescue mission, so what should we do? Oh, yeah! A rescue mission with the participants swapped!

Sigh.

The opening volumes are particularly unimpressive. Jin, a classmate from school, goes on a rampage thanks to a STIGMA. Oh, now laugh because he’s got wolf ears. Aki broods, then Kana broods, then back to Aki. 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. (Fortunately, the translator does a good job of keeping the clarity up.) A character’s debut about halfway through changes the dynamic among the main characters, and even dumb subplots like trying to find a missing sister can’t detract from it. The sexual tension becomes more blatant, and the manga finally starts to include some horror elements.

I do love some of the plot twists (one particular situation revealed at the very end would no doubt drive a lot of people insane), but readers have to put up with so many meh and outright blegh volumes to get to them. The series doesn’t even end on a high note, as the finale involves characters not even bothering to tell others they’re okay.

Although I have valid complaints, I really don’t have too many about the heroine. Ever since she was injured, Kana has been looking for something to fill that now-vacant hole in her life. She is pretty dense when it comes to romance (a trait often found in shoujo protagonists), but she is remarkably pragmatic about everything else. She accepts her new condition without much explanation, and she doesn’t blame the person who started the chain of events that caused her injury. Kana also steps up to the plate when someone is in trouble (heck, she almost dies saving a child in the first chapter), and she doesn’t wallow in pity about all the rumors about her. I do like how Shouoto has a tendency to make heroines who are proactive without being overly emotional, and Kana is no exception.

Meanwhile, Aki seems like a wanna-be yandere, but he kind of sucks at the role. (Get it?) He acts like he wants to dominate and monopolize her, but he cares too much about her and feels to guilty to actually be a manipulative prick. He spends more time apologizing in his head than actually biting her. He believes Kana has been in love with Eriya for years, but from the reader’s perspective, it’s never up for debate that hat he is the only love interest. Jin, introduced in the first volume, takes on the best friend and advisor role for both Aki and Kana. (Kana has an actual best friend, but since she doesn’t know anything about the supernatural, she’s mainly relegated to being Kana’s manager at school.)

If you’ve ever read any of Shouoto’s other works, you are bound to recognize some of the character designs.

He's My Only Vampire Sample

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.

Translation:

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. Some translator’s notes are included. 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 original 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.

Final Comments:

I wasn’t enTHRALLed by this series. (Get it?) Shouoto’s art is attractive as always, but He’s My Only Vampire takes too long to get good. It also doesn’t really have a clear focus, unlike many other options. Karin or Crimson Prince are comedic vampire stories, Kiss of the Rose Princess is more of a “collect ’em all” story, Black Bird has the sexual tension, and Vampire Knight is a popular vampire drama with a love triangle.

Viz Media released Kiss of the Rose Princess and is publishing The Demon Prince of the Momochi House.

Reader Rating


2/5 (1)

2 Comments

  1. The Otaku Judge

    I approve of the suck and thrall puns. On an unrelated note, never challenge Dracula to a game of poker. He plays high “stakes.”

    Reply
    1. Krystallina (Post author)

      Frankenstein is so good at poker that it’s shocking.

      Reply

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