Shannon, here – Halloween is my favourite holiday and to honour it I’m counting down 13 manga throughout the month that I think best capture the Halloween spirit. They aren’t all horror manga, as to me Halloween is about more than scares: it’s about a sense of fun and wonder. It’s about discovering that there may be more to this world than meets the eye. So with that in mind, there’s everything on this list from action-packed shounen to romantic-comedy to children’s manga to some lock-the-doors-and-leave-the-lights-on horror. (See all 13 Days of Halloween so far…)
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It’s easy to assume that Chibi-Vampire is just another shoujo vampire series like Millenium Snow or Vampire Knight. But Chibi-Vampire has something that other vamp manga lack: it’s fun. The characters go through some rough patches, but they never spend pages angsting about their lot in life. The manga manages to take something as tired as vampires and be both respectful to tradition and while still crafting its own mythology.
Karin is the middle-child in a family full of vampires. Even in a strange family like that she still manages to be the odd one out. Instead of drinking blood, Karin’s body is a hemoglobin-making machine, pumping out so much blood that Karin bites people in order to inject them with it and get it out of her system. If she doesn’t find someone to donate blood too, she ends with the mother of all nosebleeds. When her classmate Kenta witnesses one of them, Karin and Kenta get drawn into a strange friendship that slowly grows over the course of the manga.
What makes this a ‘Halloween’ manga in my mind is Karin’s family. They embody all the traditional vampire tropes: they sleep in coffins, can’t bear sunlight, use bats as familiars, and need to drink blood to survive. They even dress the part, wearing gothic-lolita outfits and capes. Ironically, the fact that they adhere so much to tradition makes them stand out against the wave of sparkly, sun-happy vampires that are in fashion (sure, Karin is fine in the sun, but she’s got drawbacks of her own to balance things out). But that’s only a minor part of their appeal. A much bigger factor is the fact that they like being vampires. Sure, there are some moments in the series where being what they are makes things hard for them, but they never stoop to angst and bemoan their existence.
The series is labelled as comedy horror, but as I said in my review of volume two it’s much more of a comedy with horror trappings. There’s enough respect and affection for the vampire mythos that a horror fan can read the manga and enjoy the comedy. It also works just as a romantic-comedy, as the characters are strong and the relationships well-written.