Manga Review: SerVamp vol. 1 – Herding Cats

I’m going to be up-front and say I’m predisposed to like any setting with a wily black cat in it. Yes, this is one of the reasons the plotbunnies still glomp Train Heartnet, Rin Okumura, and Kirito in SAO. So, with that caveat….

Like a lot of manga I’ve read recently, I came to this book from an AMV on YouTube. Black cats, vampires, a main character with an energy broomstick – it looked worth a shot.

And it is, indeed, pretty cool. πŸ™‚ Though vol. 1 shares the same characteristic with several manga series I’ve run across in that it is noticeably lighter and more silly than the anime’s first episode. A lot of manga seem to start lighter, then settle down into Let’s Get Dangerous over a volume or two; whereas their anime generally has the advantage of access to several manga volumes’ worth of material before it starts, so it can “even out” the tone a bit.

Even so, this manga clues you in that things are definitely going to Get Dangerous in the very first two pages. We meet our Ordinary High School Student protagonist, Shirota Mahiru, find out that he’s the kind of guy who rescues stray kittens so he won’t feel guilty about not doing something when he could have… and see the cat is Not What It Seems.

The rest of the manga doesn’t try to pack in as much info on every page, but the pace moves along at a good clip. Kuro the vampire cat might be lazy, but this story definitely gets right to work.

The hints of the supernatural might draw us into the story to start, but it’s Mahiru’s character that holds me in the setting. “Someone has to do something. Someone has to stop that guy. …I guess someone is me.”

That’s one of the things I like most about this manga. Mahiru’s actions may change as he gets more information about the situation he dove into, but the reason for his actions does not: he’s a fundamentally decent person, determined to do something rather than stand by wringing his hands. No one else can sew costumes for the school festival? Mahiru steps in. Vampire attacks a friend? He pales, but he jumps in to do his best.

(Yes, he was lucky to have a vampire cat along. Still, for a 15-year-old without fighting experience, he was giving it a darn good try.)

That stability of character turns out to be a necessary linchpin to hold the plot together, given we find out vampires can modify memories. For a more changeable person, that would probably make the story fly apart for the reader right there; how could we count on anything to be consistent if memories aren’t?

But we know Mahiru is stubbornly Mahiru, under any and all circumstances. It doesn’t matter exactly what he remembers; he acts on what he sees and knows at the time, and he’s always trying to do the right thing.

And it’s a very good thing Mahiru is stubborn, because his Servamp Kuro is definitely a cat. Ever tried to get a cat to do something he doesn’t want to? Right.

Add in a crazy bad guy with mysterious motives, secret lives, weirdness coming out of the woodwork – so far, so good. πŸ™‚

…And yes, I did get Volume 2. πŸ˜‰


21 thoughts on “Manga Review: SerVamp vol. 1 – Herding Cats

    1. Because the manga series involves vampires, blood sucking, the relationship between a sire and sired vampire and the fact that both of said individuals are male.


      1. …platonic or canonized romances? Because I read “relationship between sire and sired //non-platonic//” and immediately think, “Isn’t that the same as saying its vampire incest?” Which — just — ew. Brain bleach needed!


  1. Vathara. My buddy, my pal. I haven’t commented on one of your posts in a loooonnng while, even though I’ve been lurking and felt the desire to, because I really, really dislike typing on mobile – but I can hold my silence no longer. You mentioned Servamp, so now I must gush.

    Okay, so the anime was great fun, and a really pretty good adaption of the manga, but oh, the manga. The artstyle is gorgeous, the story is good and filled with many bishies – but most importantly, the characters are likeable for their own reasons AT THE BEGINNING, and then stay that way – but developing and growing as the story goes on. Character relationships in Servamp are pretty ace, as well – especially Kuro and Mahiru’s.

    (I live for fire-forged platonic life partners)

    Well, that is really all I had to say… back to plotting for NaNo, I guess…


  2. Speaking of manga, anyone else here had a chance to leaf through ‘Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio’? And I’m specifically talking about the manga, not the anime as the latter takes a sharp turn into original territory about halfway through.

    The initial premise might have been a bit odd at first but I’m finding the interwoven plot-lines, interesting characters and the secrets that are being slowly uncovered to be a fun ride.

    What’s even more fun is that despite opposing sides (and more sides are starting to form as the story goes*) nobody that gets any real ‘screentime’ never feels like the classic manga villain. Their actions are what they feel is the right thing to do and you can understand why they do it.

    *To no-one’s surprise, granting a bunch of sufficiently advanced war machines (who previously only acted on pre-set directives) consciousness, emotions, free will and curiosity, tends to result in arguments over ‘what we should do next’. And not all of them agree with each other.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. >Ouch.>
        And the best part is, it wasn’t the readers/fans that stuck that label on her. It was the other ships.


    1. I may have mentioned that one of my favorite crossover stunts is having Argo in SAO as a fleet of fog style AI stuck in Aincrad independently of Kayaba’s design? Easily top hundred of the sort of thing I’ve wanted to do in more than one fic.

      There was a warship named Argo in WWII. Portugal ran out of money, so the Italian navy bought the submarine from the builders instead. (Not on the KanColle wiki last I checked, so that option is also available.)

      Ben Hutchins’ wrote Arpeggio into his Undocumented Features stories, with the inclusion of some KanColle elements.


      1. Arpeggio is in UF? Must be some of the later stories; I still have my printed version of the first UF story back from 1991. (Its explanation for DEKAbeast is the best I’ve seen yet….)

        Anyone know if the stories are up on the web currently?


      2. eyrie dot net

        Hutchins et al have kept on writing. Possibly improved, definitely a lot of new collaborators and stories.


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