If Fifty Shades of Grey is a more adult Twilight fic (it is), then Call of the Night is a middle school Twilight AU. But not in a bad way, if that’s your immediate reaction.
Call of the Night is about a fourteen year old boy named Ko Yamori, who has terrible insomnia, and his life after he meets Nazuna Nanakusa, a vampire. From there, the story turns into one of the most fun vampire stories I’ve ever experienced, largely because it’s filtered through manga tropes that play well together, and form a great central idea.
Typically, I straight up do not care about vampires, either as a concept in a story, or as a thematic idea. There have been strong attempts at convincing me, but for the most part, I bounce off of vampire stories. However, Call of the Night’s core concept of doing a vampire-romance-comedy-manga is new to me, and I feel its hooks digging in.
My favorite part of the volume is the way that it uses the inherent romance, and even eroticism, of vampires. Now, this is present in all kinds of vampire fiction, and I’m sure it’s been done better than it has been here, but I appreciate the way the main character’s relationship is being used here.
The story directly linking vampirism and love while navigating what that even means for a fourteen-year-old boy is fun, and funny, and feels so different from so much of western media, while still feeling of a kind. In some ways, the story feels immature — not necessarily in a bad way, but in a sitcom-y way, where the relationship isn’t romanticized so much as it creates opportunities for humor or drama. In that way, this feels like it could be a great manga to start with, as it feels familiar to a lot of western media, while still being manga, and using tropes from manga to tell its story.
I think the visual storytelling also makes this a particularly good manga for western comic audiences to start with. It largely follows tier structures that we see in monthly western comics, particularly pages with three tiers. While the layouts in Call of the Night aren’t as inspired or creative as some standout ones I’ve seen (in any kind of comic, western or elsewhere), they’re made first and foremost to be legible. The panels are organized in a way that makes reading it easy, and it flows perfectly down the page. Even when I’m not used to reading right-to-left, I don’t think I ever got confused or read in the wrong direction.
Along with the storytelling, the aesthetics of the art are great. I especially loved the way Kotoyama draws the city. Much of the story takes place in the dead of night, and he perfectly captured the feeling of being the only people alive. The art has a stillness to it that made me feel the haunting of a city dead asleep.
I also loved the way the buildings look in general across the volume. Sometimes looming, sometimes distant, these rectangles are nice looking. They serve as great backdrops, and they work to show the characters treating the city like a playground in a fun way.
Call of the Night is a fun, funny, and accessible manga about a vampire, insomnia, and love. I had a great time with this volume and I think I’ll keep reading!
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