Sayaka is a cheerful, outgoing girl, the complete opposite of the new house guest staying with her family, Kai Kuryuu. He’s handsome, aloof, and a complete mystery. But the more Sayaka tries to get closer to him, the more he pushes her away. Will she be able to reach him? More importantly, should she? Kai hides a secret that could put her and her family in danger.
Moon and Blood Volume 1-2
By Nao Yazawa
Digital Manga Publishing; May and October 2011. ISBN: 978-1-56970-207-9; 978-1-56970-242-0
72-80pgs., $6.95 ea
Moon and Blood is an original manga that Digital Manga Publishing is doing directly with the artist Nao Yazawa. Yazawa is no stranger to US readers. Viz Media published her manga Wedding Peach in the early 2000s, and DMP digitally published two chapters of another series, Mizuki. Moon and Blood has the basic premise of an angsty vampire and the human girl who loves him, but it manages to avoid all the pitfalls that come with that premise by having likable characters and a plot that doesn’t rely on the vampire’s angst for its drama.
Sayaka and Kai, the main characters, are like the opposites that attract. Sayaka is open and friendly, while Kai keeps to himself and does what he can to keep his distance from others. And he tries really hard to keep Sayaka from getting close to him. But she is a sensitive girl and sees through his aloof facade to the loneliness that rests underneath. This is what I really like about Kai. He doesn’t bemoan the fact that he’s a vampire, and he doesn’t regret the choice he made to become one. But as parts of his past are revealed, it becomes obvious that Kai was alone long before he left his family. And by wanting to live with human families, he seems to crave being a part of one, even if outwardly he tries to keep himself out. Sayaka starts to break down the wall he has built up around himself and draw him out. This constant push-and-pull between them creates much better drama than if Kai was all angsty about being a vampire.
The rest of the cast is rounded out by Sai, Kai’s sire, who appears either as a little girl in goth clothing or as a Siamese cat. Though, in one flashback, before she turns Kai into a vampire, she has a yokai form of a cat with nine tails. Sayaka’s father and brother Natsuki don’t really do much in these first two volumes, expect Natsuki does begin to suspect Kai’s true nature. It was a nice touch that the first volume ends on a tight shot of the Vampire Hunter D manga, which is also commissioned by Digital Manga Publishing. Takeshi, Sayaka’s childhood friend, is played both for comedy and as Kai’s rival for Sayaka’s affection, even though she doesn’t see Takeshi that way.
Because the volumes are short, the story moves at a brisk pace. The first volume introduces everyone and shows Sayaka and Kai getting to know each other. It also shows some glimpses of Kai’s past and how he became a vampire, though not why yet. In volume 2, Sayaka and Kai are growing closer together as Kai’s past catches up to him. While Sayaka and Kai’s relationship is the focus of the story, and at there are entertaining parts, such as the Drag Queen contest Kai is talked into participating in at school, I find Kai’s past and why he chose to become a vampire the more compelling side of the story. The romance didn’t work as well for me. It felt a little forced, and Sayaka being so overly emotional and clingy didn’t sit well with me.
Moon and Blood is a supernatural romance that avoids a lot of the pitfalls commonly seen in this now popular genre. Its emphasis on the romance makes it a title girls will love, and the potential for action may attract some boys as well. The well-developed characters and fascinating backstory make this a title worth picking up. It is available in print as well as several digital formats including Kindle, Nook, and DMP’s own website eManga.