by Rebecca Silverman,

He's My Only Vampire

GN 1

He's My Only Vampire GN 1
When she was little, Kana used to play with two mysterious boys in the forest. Something happened to scare her, however, and she hasn't seen them since. Now in high school, Kana has a feeling of emptiness inside her. She assumes that it's brought on by the fact that an injury took away her ability to long jump, but when she is gravely injured in a traffic accident, she realizes that it was something else. Aki, one of the boys from her past, appears before her and tells her that he is a vampire. He saves her life by making her his thrall, and now Kana has been drawn into a strange supernatural world. So why is it that she no longer feels so empty?

Aya Shouto fans, rejoice! Less than a month after Viz's release of her first series in English, Kiss of the Rose Princess, Yen Press brings us another, He's My Only Vampire. Less humorous than its predecessor, this second English-language offering is much more in the paranormal romance vein and definitely feels a little racier. The story is fast-paced and an interesting take on vampire mythology, but even if you're thoroughly sick of blood-suckers, Shouoto provides enough to make this first volume interesting on its own merits.

The heroine of the story is Kana, a second year student at a prestigious high school. She initially got in on a sports scholarship for track, as she was a gifted long jumper. Just before her first major competition, however, she broke her leg very badly, and the doctor told her that she would never have the mobility she once did. Now she's in constant pain even though the limb has healed and to make it worse, her old teammates are convinced that she's somehow faking it and just doesn't want to jump anymore. Despite their bullying and the high price of tuition, Kana is determined both to stay at the school and to help out as many random clubs as she can. Her one major regret besides the loss of her jumping days is that she hasn't seen the boys she used to play with when she was little. Somehow, she feels, this has caused a hole that cannot be filled. Luckily (?) for Kana, she's about to be involved in a fatal traffic accident saving a little girl. As she's lying dying in the street, one of the boys, Aki, appears before her. He tells her that he will “ruin” her before biting her neck. Aki, it turns out, is a vampire, and he has made Kana his immortal thrall in order to save her life.

This is where we begin to realize the emotional complexity of the story. Aki has been warned to stay away from the city, but he cannot bear the thought of not seeing Kana again. When she first glimpses him in the crowd, she mistakes him for his brother Eriya, which clearly hurts him, but when she sees him as she is dying, she recognizes him as the other twin. It seems very likely from his reaction that this is a factor in his saving her...and equally likely that he has done so in order to stake a claim on her for himself. Aki makes it very obvious that he is in love with Kana and likely has been since childhood, and much of his feeding is described in very sexual terms: when he bites her he will “ruin” her (romance novel code, typically, for having sex), he makes comments about part of him being inside her (his blood), and when he sucks her blood she has a fairly sexual reaction, at least in terms of the words used to describe the experience. Contrary to all of this, Kana is totally in the dark as far as Aki's feelings for her – when he says he would prefer to sleep in her room as opposed to the guest room, she offers to move her stuff into the guest room, thinking it's the actual room he's talking about rather than propositioning her. Later she refers to herself as “lunch,” which is not really related to how Aki sees his thrall, even though he drinks her blood. It makes for an entertaining (and frustrating, in a good way) contrast that once again plays heavily with the genre tropes of romance. Yet another tried-and-true staple of the vampire romance comes in at the end of the volume, but while it is easy to recognize it as such, it doesn't take away from the enjoyability of the book; in fact, none of this does, which is a testament to Shouoto's strength as a storyteller.

The art, while very attractive, is a bit messy for easy reading, although it is worth noting that some of that appears to be deliberate. Shouto uses a blur effect in several places to partially obscure text. It looks as though this is meant to indicate a character's state of mind, especially at the beginning with Aki or with Kana's repressed memories of a fire that left her emotionally scarred. That aside, the pages are very busy and the panels can feel cramped, but the characters are all very easily told apart, with their own distinct looks and, in one case, clothing.

He's My Only Vampire may not be the most enticing title, but if you aren't already a fan of Aya Shouoto and enjoy fast-paced paranormal romance, this book might make you one. With interesting and slightly tortured characters, a pleasing, if busy, art style, and a story that uses the romance genre's staples very well, this is a series worth giving a chance, even if you're a little tired of vampires.

Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B+

+ Good use of the staples of the romance genre, interesting take on vampire mythology. Kana's a likable heroine, Aki is sufficiently darkly mysterious.
Pages and panels can get very crowded, there's a bit too much mystery surrounding Aki by the end of the book. Blur effect can be trying.

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Story & Art: Aya Shouoto

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