Saturday, April 12, 2014

Midnight Secretary (manga, vol. 2) story & art by Tomu Ohmi

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

This review contains spoilers.

Synopsis:

Kaya still sees the blood she gives Kyohei as simply another aspect of her job, so her hurt when she overhears Kyohei refer to her as food, just like any of his other women, surprises her. She is so upset by his words that it even begins to affect the quality of her work. She soon comes to the realization that she is in love with Kyohei, but what can she do?

Then Masaki, Kyohei's brother, provides her with a way out. If she wishes it, he can have her reassigned. He knows that Kaya has fallen in love with Kyohei, and, although he suspects the feelings are mutual, he also knows that Kyohei's pride and hatred of humans will prevent him from ever admitting it.

Review:

I loved the first volume of this series so much that I purchased the next three without hesitation. I was expecting more fluffy fun. Unfortunately, this volume went in a direction that made me very unhappy. I really hope this series rights itself over the course of the next couple volumes, or I'm not sure I'll be able to continue with it.

The first half of the volume wasn't so bad. I enjoyed the brief appearance of Kyohei's mother, who shed a little more light on how vampirism works in this series and revealed some of the reasons behind Kyohei's cold behavior towards his family and most humans. Kaya's realization that she was in love with Kyohei didn't come as a surprise, and I already knew that realization would lead to hurt feelings and inner turmoil on her part.

It was painful to watch Kaya become so absorbed with and upset by her feelings for Kyohei, but I could understand it. I think my problems with this volume didn't really begin until after Kyohei found out that his brother had offered Kaya the option of being reassigned. He acted like a complete and utter jerk, seeking Kaya out at her home and verbally striking out at her when she refused to let herself be swayed by him.

The thing is, this volume could have been saved. There were indications that being separated from Kaya upset Kyohei, even if he wasn't willing to admit it, and Kaya was still enough herself to be able to be someone else's efficient, perfect secretary. She didn't necessarily need Kyohei in order to continue on, and the stage was set for Kyohei to realize he was being an ass and try to redeem himself.

For this to have all worked out, Kyohei needed to do some groveling before Kaya could go back to him. There would still have been issues they needed to deal with – they were still boss and employee, and at least one other person in the company knew their relationship had become closer than was appropriate – but at least Kyohei would have acknowledged that Kaya was someone worthy of his respect and consideration.

Unfortunately, that's not how things happened. Kyohei saved Kaya from getting hit by a car, exposing himself to sunlight and weakening himself in the process. Kyohei's loyal driver later went to Kaya and begged her to see Kyohei, revealing to her that he hadn't been feeding as much as he should since she'd left. Kaya went to Kyohei and then slashed her wrist, forcing him to either drink her blood or let her die. After he'd drunk his fill and they'd had sex, Kyohei asked if she'd be his secretary again. Kaya was still enough of a professional to say that she'd continue with her job at Erde, as she'd promised Kyohei's brother, but she told Kyohei that she'd come work for him in secret in the evenings.

First off, I don't care that Kyohei revealed his feelings somewhat via his actions, by weakening himself in order to save Kaya – in my opinion, he still should have been forced to say at least some of what he felt for her before she ran back to him. I was hugely uncomfortable with the scene in which she slashed her wrist, because she seemed to be saying that loving and serving Kyohei was more important to her than even her life. And agreeing to publicly work for Erde, while working for Kyohei in secret? Where did the professional, career-minded Kaya that I loved in the first volume go? The woman who was so ethical she investigated her own boss for drug use/pushing and would have turned him in if that had been what he'd been doing?

This volume's ending angered me. Kyohei was a jerk who should have groveled but didn't, Kaya was a disappointment, and the sex happened at least a volume or two too early.

Extras:

Occasional author's notes relating to the series, plus an 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.
  • Vampire Academy (book) by Richelle Mead - The bit with Kyohei's mom and her explanation of how vampirism works made me think of this series. I have written about this book.

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