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. 🙂 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. 🙂
…And yes, I did get Volume 2. 😉