Sunday, April 6, 2014

Midnight Secretary (manga, vol. 1) story & art by Tomu Ohmi

Midnight Secretary is a supernatural romance series published by VIZ Media.


Kaya Satozuka doesn't have the best opinion of her new boss, Kyohei Tohma. He juggles affairs with multiple women and even meets those women in his office. However, he's good at his job and Kaya is determined to prove that she can be the efficient, trustworthy, hard-working secretary he needs. Still, there's something strange about the director. He's allergic to sunlight, avoids certain dinners and parties, and his various girlfriends look drugged after they visit him.

When Kaya investigates, she learns the truth: her boss is a vampire. He blackmails her into keeping his secret and gives her additional duties, such as figuring out which of his women are ready to be scheduled for another “meal.” Kaya strives to protect her boss, even going so far as to serve as an emergency snack. What neither one of them counted on was that they might begin to fall for each other.


Yes, in real life, boss/employee romances are a bad thing, but I love them in fiction. I've wanted to try Midnight Secretary ever since I learned that it was a boss/employee romance with supernatural elements. I picked up the first volume and read it after a particularly horrible day at work. The verdict? It was lots of fun, and now I want to read more.

I loved Kaya. She hated how baby-faced she looked and yearned to be taken seriously, so she purposefully dressed to make herself look like her personal vision of an efficient secretary. That meant severe outfits, a severe hairstyle, and glasses, even though her eyesight was fine. When her boss insulted her looks and gave her a huge amount of work in order to try to scare her off, she gave him a super-professional smile, privately cursed his playboy behavior, and then did her best to prove that she was the best secretary ever.

It took me a bit longer to warm up to Kaya's boss. His instant dismissal of Kaya because she wasn't hot-looking didn't earn him any points, and I hated that he threatened Kaya's mother's job if she didn't keep his secrets. I think it helped that Kaya easily (too easily?) adjusted to being a vampire's secretary and combated Kyohei's arrogance with a pleasant, professional mask and quietly perfect work.

Kyohei was one of those arrogant playboy types who's secretly adorable. I enjoyed his private amusement over Kaya's efforts to learn his vampiric secrets, and I thought his reaction to Kaya trying to protect him at a Christmas party was great. When he learned that her glasses were fake and that she wore them as a kind of secretarial uniform, instead of forcing her to stop wearing them so she'd better fit his definition of hot, he supported her.

There is a bit of low-level jealousy in this volume – Kyohei seemed to dislike, but be resigned to, Kaya's attraction to his brother, and he forced Kaya to cancel what he thought was a date with another man by deciding that the two of them needed go to a party that he had previously decided to skip. This was all done in a way that worked for me, although the bit where Kaya was forced to cancel her date pushed my comfort zone a little.

I can't wait to see where this series goes. I've read manga adaptations of Harlequin romance novels, and those are usually crap. Although Midnight Secretary isn't one of those, it has the feel of a Harlequin romance novel adaptation done well, if that makes any sense. There's the prim, professional secretary who's maybe a little too devoted to her boss. There's the playboy boss with the tendency to brood when his secretary causes him to feel actual emotions. There's the perfect, golden-boy brother who provides the opportunity for a slight love triangle, plus a bit of mystery – I really want to find out more about Kyohei's relationship with his family and why he's the only one who's a vampire.

Oh, I almost forgot. One bit of warning: the series is a little racy. There are a few instances of bared breasts, and Kyohei's bite practically counts as sex.


Very little. A few sidebars and a one-page comic-style afterword from the author.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Protect the Boss (live action TV series) - My K-drama stamina sucks, so I haven't actually finished this yet, but I'd like to get back to it at some point. The heroine is wonderful, a woman who has worked hard and finally landed her dream job as a professional secretary. Unfortunately, her boss seems like an unreliable failure. She nurses a crush on his perfect and sympathetic rival. Those who enjoyed Midnight Secretary's basic story and don't mind something that lacks supernatural elements may want to give this a try.
  • Demon Love Spell (manga series) by Mayu Shinjo - I haven't read this, but I've read a little of another one of Shinjo's series, Sensual Phrase. Based on the descriptions I've read, I think Demon Love Spell is another somewhat racy supernatural romance series.
  • Black Bird (manga series) by Kanoko Sakurakoji - Another somewhat racy supernatural romance series. I've read a little of this one. It stars a girl whose flesh and blood is supposed to be able to give supernatural beings various benefits when consumed. A supernatural being named Kyo finds her and tries to protect her. I enjoyed this series at first but eventually stopped reading it - I got a little tired of the number of times Sakurakohi arranged for the heroine to be hurt near delicate areas so that Kyo could lick her to heal her wounds. I've written briefly about the first volume of the manga.
  • Vampire Knight (manga series) by Matsuri Hino; Vampire Knight (anime TV series) - More vampire romance, although this one stars high school students. I've written about the first part of the TV series and the first volume of the manga.
  • Tramps Like Us (manga series) by Yayoi Ogawa - Another romance series starring a career-minded woman. The series premise sounds weird but, surprisingly, it works and is less icky than it sounds. After she is dumped by her fiance and has a bad day at work, the heroine stumbles across a young homeless man who she eventually invites to be her pet. He becomes a welcome comfort, someone around whom she doesn't have to constantly wear her tough professional mask. However, he's still a human being, and neither one of them is sure what to do once they begin falling for each other. I've written about the first two volumes of the manga.

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