Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Graphic Novel Review: Midnight Secretary Vol 1

Kaya Satozuka prides herself on being an excellent secretary and a consummate professional, so she doesn’t even bat an eye when she’s reassigned to the office of her company’s difficult director, Kyohei Touma. He’s as prickly—and hot—as rumors paint him, but Kaya is unfazed…until she discovers that he’s a vampire!!

Kaya quickly accustoms herself to scheduling his “dinner dates” and working odd hours, but can she handle it when Kyohei’s smoldering gaze starts turning her way?!

All right guys let's keep a few things in mind: I read this before it was licensed way back in the day when it was fan translated. This is more accurately considered "Josei" then "shoujo" (which is kind of like the difference between "middle grade/young adult" and "New adult") and while this volume involves very little nudity succeeding volumes feature it pretty heavily (especially between the two main characters).

What does it take to be a "perfect" secretary? Kaya is determined to be such to Director Touma no matter what it means. Running ridiculous errands? Fine. Enduring his rude remarks about how 'plain' she is? Bring it on. Helping to schedule his "meals" with the women that he has sex with so he can drink their blood? Oh sure--wait what?!

Ohmi has an interesting take on vampires in this series; far as I can tell they can't be made, only born and only between a human and a vampire. As such there's few enough of them in existence. Much of the popular folklore about them is false also. They only need a meal once or twice a week to sustain them, direct sunlight weakens (but doesn't kill) them and its the power of faith (of any religion) that hurts them, not the artifacts or words.

Touma is your basic Alphahole Hero--he's arrogant, rude, condescending, womanizing (though that's partially out of necessity) and controlling. He chides Kaya constantly about her "plain" appearance and makes unreasonable demands even BEFORE Kaya finds out he's a vampire. Kaya for her part is more timid in these early chapters, but what seems softness and hesistance on her part morphs into just how committed she is to being the BEST secretary she can be under any circumstances.

What kept me interested back then and now was the struggle Touma and Kaya go through to find their happy ending (oh come on its a romance, despite any other trappings, so yes there's a HEA). Ohmi doesn't have them jump into a relationship--while Kaya is struck by how attractive Touma is, his arrogant attitude (his "pride" as a vampire) turns her off as much as the little nice things he does interests her. In this volume we see them bicker, fight, joke and frustrate each other.

For Kaya her job as a secretary is who she is--its everything she's wanted to repay her mother for raising her. She takes her job seriously, works hard and when its appropriate she speaks her mind. Because of this "pride" as a secretary she's at odds with Touma--who has a chip on his shoulder against humans (including his own family), a chip on his shoulder about women (which granted, we come to find out is not entirely unreasonable) and is perfectly fine with manipulating Kaya's sense of duty to get her to stay by his side.

The artwork is a bit more dated and sometimes seems odd--most of the men are tall, well built and almost aggressively sharp shoulders (and almost always in suits, which makes sense since this primarily takes place at a corporate building). The women, even Kaya who despairs of being a "babyface", all are hourglass figures. This changes as the series progresses and we meet more characters, but it holds true here. Touma stands out because he's dressed dark with dark hair while Kaya stands out for much the same reasons--many of the other minor characters fade into the background.

If you want a heroine who has purpose and goals, this is for you. If you want a vampire romance with all the traditional trappings therein, this is for you. If you want to see Touma and Kaya run themselves ragged trying to convince each other and themselves that they are fine without the other, this is for you. Give it a shot--after all don't you have any pride as a reader?