Book of the Month - April 2006

Chibi-Vampire - Volume 1

Pity Karin Maaka. The more she tries to fit in and be normal, the further away from normalcy she gets. Part of it stems from her kooky home life. She’s the oddball in a family of European vampires who’ve relocated to Japan; instead of being a ravenous blood-sucker that wouldn’t be caught dead outside during the daylight, Karin’s a blood-maker that has no aversion to the sun’s life-giving rays. And that’s not all—when it gets to be “that time of the month” (ask your mother), her body goes into overdrive, producing so much of the red stuff that it makes her ill.

Normally it wouldn’t be all that bad—she’d sit out P.E., and it’d be over. But this month’s “danger day” is different. Kenta Usui has just transferred into Karin’s class, and something about him sends her into hematopoiesis overdrive. Just being near him gets her heart pumping like mad, and her blood level rises astronomically. Though she tries hard to avoid contact with him, that just piques his curiosity, to the point where he corners her in a hallway and blood gushes from her nose so profusely that the aftermath resembles a crime scene. It can only be love.

Karin’s budding relationship with Kenta is the premise of Yuna Kagesaki’s charmingly macabre manga Chibi-Vampire (known as Karin in Japan). The manga takes the familiar tale of an average schoolgirl falling for the new transfer student to a different comedic level by introducing the vampiric plot, accentuating the humor and giving the story more of a purpose than simple puppy love.

Once Karin’s wacky family finds out that she had a bloody reaction to a boy at school, they’re overjoyed that perhaps her true vampire self is awakening. They convince her suave brother Ren to help find out what her blood preference is—leading to the book’s funniest and most disturbing scene, where Karin bites the neck of Kenta’s mother while he looks on in shock, horrified by the display before him. Thankfully for Kenta (and for the sake of the series remaining cute), this little incident is not entirely a bad thing: In the world of Chibi-Vampire, vampires suck the troubles out of their victims along with their blood. Karin’s little neck bite has taken away the pain his mother felt from being taken advantage of and fired from her job.

Even better, though, is the fact that Kenta’s so dense that he doesn’t realize what’s going on, another aspect of their relationship that keeps you glued to the pages. As he trails her in the first half of the book, he sees her necking with a guy in the park and goes with his first thought—that she’s whoring herself out. But the incident with his mother has him completely befuddled, and it’s all left me hungry for more—Volume 2 can’t come soon enough.

—Chris Johnston

Fresh Anime Blood

Chibi-Vampire recently became a TV series in Japan with animation by J.C.STAFF (Azumanga Daioh, Maburaho). Especially notable is that it marks actress Sayuri Yahagi’s voice-acting debut in the lead role of Karin. She’s backed up by VA vets like Katsuyuki Konishi (Shaman King’s Amidamaru and Loveless’ Soubi) as the hapless Kenta Usui and Junichi Suwabe (Fullmetal Alchemist’s Greed) as her brother Ren.

  • Available: April 2006

  • Publisher: TOKYOPOP

  • Rating: 16+


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