Manga-ka: Yuna Kagesaki
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: April 2006
Synopsis: “Karin is a cute little girl who also happens to be a vampire… with a twist. Once a month, she experiences intense bleeding from her nose – we’re talking gushers! In other words, she’s a vamp with blood to spare, so rather than stealing blood from humans, she actually gives her blood to them.”
Karin Maaka is keeping a dark secret; she’s actually… a vampire! But Karin isn’t just any vampire you see, which helps to ensure that this isn’t just any vampire story. Instead of needing to consume blood from humans, Karin is instead inexplicably hit with an over abundance of blood once a month, leaving her with a need to give humans blood instead of taking it away. If she doesn’t indulge this need, then the blood spurts from her like a fountain, one that would leave anyone more than a little light headed and readers likely more than a little compelled to keep on reading.
It’s hard not to compare Karin’s one month bleeding, with a side of discomfort and weariness, with a certain other monthly occurrence girls her age begin to go through, but it certainly works as a convenient alibi that Karin has working in her favour as she continues living a relatively normal teenage girl life. This is unlike her family, all vampires, who must live the more traditional vampire-life: drinking the blood of others, hiding from the sun and enjoying a classy, well-off lifestyle within their dark, atmospheric mansion. That isn’t to say they don’t revel in it, and their adorable middle-child Karin is the family’s black sheep, albeit a well supported one in whatever way they can manage for her. They’re an entertaining bunch, and along with Karin and Kenta, bring lots of good laughs to the story along with great potential for continued involvement.
Vaguely speaking of which is the male lead, Kenta Usui. He’s a new transfer student into Karin’s class, and also a new co-worker at her part-time job. He works to help take some of the financial burden off his mother, a single-mother who is an earnest worker, one who loves her son very dearly, but has had a bad streak of losing her job due to unfortunate circumstances. Kenta Usui’s caring and patience he garners from his Mother, and from watching out for her, is likely a good cause for his patience with Karin, as he sees more than a few instances that give him cause to question her well-being. He’s honest and thoughtful, plus there’s a good job done balancing his personality between being laidback and understandably rattled. I found both him and Karin very likeable, which is of course fantastic as far as giving me another reason to keep reading.
Both Karin and Kenta have some pretty strong chemistry right off the get-go too, not romantic per say (and to no complaint) but still very present. From the moment she sees him, Karin has a very potent reaction and Kenta takes her odd outbursts in stride, albeit being more than slightly confused by them and subsequent events. I like that the two let off a more brother-sister kind of vibe instead of having a sudden romance thrown in reader’s faces. I’d much rather have these two continue to evolve as is before the sadly often-inevitable loss of individuality when relationships are too forced off the bat (if that’s even the direction this series will take).
The art style of Chibi Vampire is as slick as the story, nothing overly incredible on its own, though as a medium for the storytelling it’s a really strong feature of the book. I loved how it maintains very immediately recognizable shoujo visuals but with solid inking and clean layouts that effectively eliminate some of the genre’s stylistic shortcomings. There’s also a distinctly high use of black which suits the series really well and added to why I found it a pretty appealing overall look.
This first volume was generally appealing altogether and I definitely plan to check out more volumes. The story is really cute and manages to be quite original as far as a shoujo-stories go. Besides, I was beginning to feel out of the loop of this whole vampire-craze the fan world seems in a frenzy over. I suppose now I can hop on the bandwagon without feeling like I let it run me over. Either way, Chibi Vampire was lots of fun so I’m off to nab myself a copy of volume two!