Add to the list of modern entertainment centered on a girlishly spunky heroine and a boyishly dreamy vampire, Nao (Wedding Peach) Yazawa’s shojo manga mini-series Moon and Blood (Digital Manga Press). Released by DMP in both 72-page print and eBook editions, the teen-rated series concerns Kai Kuryuu, a youngish (as these things go) vampire who stays with an unwitting family after his vampire sensei (a Lolita-esque figure named Ai) puts the bite on the family’s widower father. (“At the very least, the father was tasty,” the elder vampire says.) Kai, much to Ai’s disgust, apparently likes to “live” with humans, though we’re not told what happened to the last family who put him up.
As for our heroine, blond teen Sayaka, she first meets the family’s new guest as she’s coming down for breakfast in her pajamas: flustered at first, she quickly becomes intrigued by this seeming teen-boy, who also shows up at her school as a new transfer student. Kai’s appearance also piques the interest of Sayaka’s girl classmates; the jealousy of Takeshi, a blond sports geek who has had a crush on our heroine since childhood – and the curiosity of her bookish brother Natsuki, who we see with a volume of Vampire Hunter D on his desk. (Good product placement, DMP!) Natsuki’s fears regarding their new houseguest don’t appear entirely unreasonable: he seems to spend a lot of time walking outside after dark and barely eats anything that he’s offered at the family dinner table.
Moon & Blood’s slim first volume doesn’t allow room for a whole lot of character development or history, though we do get a taste of Kai’s past as a young human. A demon hunter, reluctantly drafted into the family business, Kai was bested by vampire Ai after she transformed into a large demon cat and slashed his throat. Recognizing that the dying boy hadn’t been given any choice in his calling, she offers to give him the “vampire’s kiss” to keep him from dying. Now the two travel together, with spending much of her time in the form of a regular-sized house cat.
The most fully realized figure, though, in the first book proves to be Sayaka, whose moments of awkwardness and girlish fantasies get amusingly captured by Yazawa. The artist’s handling of her cast is brightly expressive, and if we have perhaps one too many cartoonish renderings of our heroine for this Western reader, it is in keeping with the generally lighthearted tone of this paranormal teen romance. Next volume in the series promises a drag competition at the high school: can’t wait to see how Yazawa fits that into her supernatural storyline.