Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? No? Well, have you ever had your veins violated by a vampire in the Tokyo star light?
Hey guys, Josh here! Now typically when it comes to reviews, I tend to stay on the anime side of the Beneath the Tangles street. The reason being is that I don’t tend to read or collect a lot of manga. I can pretty much count on one hand how many manga series I actively follow or have followed. It has to be a special kind of series for me to keep up for volumes upon volumes at a time and hold my attention as, admittedly, I have the attention span of a spaniel. But, as we are in springtime, the season of change and new beginnings, I figured I would stretch my legs a bit and check out more manga for review. So when Twwk offered up this manga for us to review, and I had the chance to read through it, I figured, “Yeah, this could be a good way to expand my writing prowess.” So, with all that being said, I’m Josh, the Cajun Samurai, and this is my review of Call of the Night, Vol. 1.
Our story starts with our main protagonist, a fourteen-year-old boy named Ko Yamori, who like many junior high boys his age, doesn’t quite know how to deal with girls, finding the stress of dealing with them so overwhelming to the point that he skips school everyday. Dude, I was awkward around girls all through middle school…and high school…but I never had the idea, or the outright boldness to completely SKIP school! I just hung out with the other nerds and kept it moving. But I digress. With no place to focus his energy, no one he can trust or confide in, and with no real ambitions in life, Ko ends up developing insomnia and spends night after night sneaking out the house and wondering around the streets of Tokyo, enjoying the whole new world that comes out when the sun goes down.
During one of these night walks, he encounters a girl named Nazuna Nanakusa, a very flirty, very lewd girl who also enjoys the simple pleasures of the night. After a bit of conversation, she reveals that she is in the business of helping people who can’t sleep and fixes whatever problems they may have. She convinces our bro Ko to come back to her place with the promise that she can help him with his insomnia. How does she do this? Simple really; she gets him to lay down and drift off to sleep, and then, when she thinks he’s out, she bites his neck and drink his blood. Now, I’m no doctor, but I’m 99.999% certain that the FDA does not approve of this method of curing insomnia. However, Ko was faking the sleepy funk and wakes up startled; brother man did not think that losing a couple CC’s of blood would be in the treatment plan. It’s then when Nazuna admits that she is, in fact, a vampire.
Later that night, Ko and Nazuna discuss the intricacies of being a vampire in this modern day. Contrary to popular opinion, vampires don’t just suck blood just to make more vampires; sometimes they just want to have a good meal. Hey, I don’t judge. However, if a human falls in love with one, that’s a different story as a human can only become a vampire if they fall in love with the one sucking their blood. Upon hearing this, Ko think that this sounds really prodigious and makes the rather drastic request that Nazuna drink his blood and turn him into a vampire as he has nothing going for him in life right now. However, Nazuna declines, stating that she only likes to drink blood and not make more vampires. She’s about that r/VampireChildFree lifestyle, yo. Nonetheless, she does offer him a compromise; in exchange for letting her drink his blood, Nazuna will let Ko hang out with her and have some fun in the night. Ko accepts this and the two begin hanging out every night, learning about each other and learning about what love is, and what is entailed in it as they explore the tantalizing world of Japan when the sun goes down.
Later in the volume, we meet one of Ko’s classmates, a girl named Akira. She tends to get up REALLY early in the morning to head off to school like the responsible student she is. And I mean REALLY early in the morning. When she meets up with Ko, it’s four in the freaking morning. I’m sorry, but I once had a job that required I be awake for 4AM, and THAT got old really freaking fast. Never again. Anyway, Akira encounters Ko one morning and the two have a conversation. It seems that Akira might in fact have some feelings for our little nightwalker in potentia, much to the chagrin of Nazuna, who seems to act a little weird when she encounters the two talking about him coming back to school. Could this be…jealousy? I guess we’ll find out in volume two.
I have to admit, this is a pretty intriguing first volume. It sets up everything pretty well, and leaves just enough questions that you want to come back and get answers for. Where are Ko’s parents in all this? What was the breaking point for him not wanting to go to school? Where did Nazuna come from? Does she really just like drinking Ko’s blood, or are there deeper, more complex feelings buried underneath the big talk and lewd snark? Why exactly is Akira so insistent that Ko come back to school? Does she have a crush on him? And the most important question of all: What in the world would this young boy willing to throw his past daytime life away and MAKE himself fall in love with a vampire to become one and live in the night? There’s just so much here to dive into, and this first volume does a great job of using it all to draw us in.
I also love that this manga takes the time to celebrate nighttime in Japan, and I feel the creator really captures the feelings of wonder and giddy delight of being out on your own during this time—the feeling of being in a whole new world so different than the one in the day. Thankfully the creator does not dwell on more social aspects of nightlife like bars and clubs, but instead focuses on the simplicity of everyday things like glowing vending machines, the lack of kids and families, the random salarymen who may have had one too many to drink and now sleeping it off on a park bench. All this is done expertly through the eyes of a middle school kid who is just trying to figure everything out.
Years back, I took a road trip by myself to Texas, one of my first ever long-distance road trips. I made it to my hotel in Houston, got some dinner, took a shower, and checked in with my mom, letting her know that I was all locked up for the night like a good boy. However, around midnight, I got the urge to get up and drive around for a little bit. I wanted to see Houston at night, and how often was I going to have the opportunity to drive alone by myself with nobody to answer to? So I grabbed my keys, jumped in my little rental Kia Soul, and set out in the night towards downtown Houston. It was such a thrill being one of the only cars out and about, zipping down the empty road, the streetlights illuminating the bare blacktop and empty sidewalks, my little 4 cylinder hamster-mobile revving up and down through gear ratios as I flew down the road, feeling the thrill of being out on the town by myself. That rush, that thrill, that feeling of being all by yourself in a new world at night is something you just have to experience, and thankfully this manga does a great job of capturing that feeling. And for those of you wondering, no, I didn’t just go out all night cruising. In fact, I didn’t really stay out all that late. Adult Swim was on and I wanted to get back. Don’t judge me.
I do have to note that this first volume reminds me a lot of Kotoyama’s earlier work, Dagashi Kashi; a young male lead with a conflict about what he wants to do with his life and a propensity to wear baggy clothes meets up with a loud, eccentric female who turns his entire life upside down and makes him reevaluate everything, including his own feelings regarding love. Meanwhile, the childhood friend, who may or may not have a crush on him, watches as the male lead gets swept up in the excitement and confusion this new girl brings to their quiet world, all the while coming to grips with her possible feelings towards him. In fact, one could argue that Call of the Night is just a retelling of Dagashi Kashi told at nighttime without snacks. Well, unless you count drinking blood a snack, in which case EVALUATE YOUR LIFE DECISIONS IMMEDIATELY. Ahem. But I digress.
All that being said, where does that leave us? Simple. Call of the Night Volume one is a nice setup for what looks to be a very interesting story. While it could be argued that this is a rehash of Dagashi Kashi, I think this story will develop its own narrative with each subsequent volume to separate it from its snack laden predecessor. I look forward to seeing how this manga will tackle the questions about what love really means, and seeing who falls in love first…under the light of the moon. Have a good one guys!
Call of the Night Vol. 1 is available for purchase through Viz Media.