Long time manga readers might remember an older shojo series by the name of: Baby & Me, which was about a young boy trying to be a good big brother to his younger sibling after their mother passes away. It was a sweet story, but very emotional and it frequently reduced me to a blubbering mess.
Well, Marimo Ragawa, the mangaka of Baby & Me, has a new series out now and it’s an adaptation of a Boys Love novel, by Narise Konohara, about a romance between a vampire and a broody loner. Sounds like my kind of series!
After he was turned into a vampire, Albert found that there was no way for him to continue living in normal society, so he fled to the countryside and kept himself alive by transforming into a bat and sneaking into a nearby meat packing plant, where he was able to feast on the blood from the slaughtered animals. Albert survived for years this way, until he accidently got locked inside a meat freezer while in his bat form and wound up being shipped to Japan with the meat! Now he’s trapped in a country where he doesn’t speak the language, with no money or identification and with nowhere to go. Things are looking bleak, but that’s when a handsome young man named Akira takes him in while he’s in his bat form. Turns out, Akira loves bats and he treats Al with kindness, something that he hasn’t experienced in a long time. Could Al have finally found someone who will be willing to help him? Unfortunately, Akira’s attitude towards him completely changes once Al transforms back into a human and he realizes that he’s got much more on his hands then an exotic, new pet!
Marimo Ragawa certainly hasn’t lost her ability to write stories that tug at my heart strings! I really felt for Albert in this manga. He’s struggling with a hopeless seeming situation: he’s constantly hungry but has no means of acquiring food on his own and he’s completely alone in the world. He can’t call home, since his folks think he’s dead; he’s afraid to go to the US embassy, since they might want to conduct experiments on him if they found out he was a vampire; and he can’t turn to the local authorities, since the police think he’s some kind of pervert because he can’t control when he transforms and he’s always naked when he turns back into a human! On top of all of that, Albert is tired of living in isolation. He’s lonely and misses his old life and I found myself tearing up every time he became overwhelmed and broke down from feeling so helpless and alone.
But this manga isn’t all angst and heartache, there’s a lot of humor in here too! Albert is adorable in his bat form and, since he’s forced to assume this shape during the day due to the fact that his conversion to a vampire wasn’t done properly, we get to see a lot of this cute version of Al.
I loved his little angry expressions and frustrated screeching when he tries to communicate with Akira and his detective friend, Nukariya, as a bat. The multiple times Albert transformed into a human and was turned into the police for indecent exposure/breaking and entering was also hilarious. Those poor detectives had no idea what was going on!
Albert’s relationship with Akira has started out combative, so there wasn’t much romantic content in this volume, but the two are starting to warm up to each other and it’s clear that’s the direction the story is heading in. Akira clearly doesn’t like people that much and is annoyed with Albert most of the time, but he’s agreed to let Albert stay with him anyway, albeit temporarily. He’s also helping him with learning Japanese and seems to be getting rather soft on him by the end of this volume, though he’s still outwardly strict with him. Albert, meanwhile, resents that Akira isn’t sweet and gentle with him, now that he knows he’s a vampire and not just a cute bat, but he’s also grateful that Akira is helping him and is beginning to want to do something to repay him. These two still have a ways to go before I’d call their relationship romantic, but their dynamic is still plenty entertaining and I’m looking forward to seeing how their feeling for each other will develop.
Volume one of The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions was both funny and dramatic and I’m excited to see what happens next, especially since this volume ends on quite the big cliff-hanger. I’d say this is well worth checking out if you love BL manga or are a fan of vampire romance stories.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10.
What did you think of this manga? Are there any other fans of Baby & Me out there who’re glad to see more works by Marimo Ragawa published in North America? Let me know in the comments!
For more information on this manga, visit Yen Press’ website.
Be sure to check out some of my other recent BL manga reviews:
- The God & the Flightless Messenger Review
- Manly Appetites: Minegishi Loves Otsu Vol 1 Review
- Birds of Shangri-La Vol 1 Review
- Canis: Dear Mr. Rain Review
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