Many of you reading this may recognise the name Ema Toyama, she’s the mangaka behind series like Missions of Love, Aoba-kun’s Confessions and I Guess I Became the Mother of the Great Demon King’s 10 Children in Another World. Now another of her works has made it to print thanks to Kodansha, but does it prove an interesting read? Let’s find out!
Vampire Dormitory follows the story of Mito Yamamoto, who has no family to rely on and lives on the streets. To keep herself safe, Mito disguises herself as a boy, but unfortunately, her good looks see her being fired from her part-time job where the girls who visit her workplace simply to hit on her are becoming a nuisance to the boss. In need of another job, Mito visits a local café and there she meets the vampire Ruka.
Mito knocks over a vase and cuts her finger, leading Ruka to take his first taste of human blood in a decade. Although he declares it disgusting, he’s still quite smitten with our heroine and decides to take her into his care as his subservient thrall. Naturally, Ruka has no idea that Mito is a girl and he actively dislikes women (except the 2D kind found in his otaku hobbies), so Mito must keep her identity a secret from him – especially since she’s living in the boys’ dorm now!
You might be wondering why Ruka would want to stay close to Mito, despite her blood tasting disgusting, but that’s because in this world it’s said that the blood of a person can become sweeter the more loved that person is. The theory is that Mito’s blood tastes awful because she’s gone her whole life being unloved (especially since her parents passed away when she was young), so Ruka hopes that showering her in love will make her blood nicer.
Another important plot point is that while women can become vampires when their blood is completely drained, men cannot, so Ruka doesn’t realise there is any risk of feeding on Mito. Ruka only wants to feed off of a woman who will become his ‘life partner’, since once you feed on that person, you’re unable to feed on anyone else since you can’t stand anyone else’s blood. Naturally, Mito seems to be their life partner, but Ruka is yet to realise this, given he still believes she’s male…
While this is a slim first volume at only 158 pages, it does manage to pack a lot in. I especially appreciate how detailed the world-building surrounding the vampires is, as well as discovering that they’re not a common entity in the world. Mito’s storyline vaguely reminds me of Ouran High School Host Club, which is no bad thing, given how much I loved that series, but I confess I do have some problems with the gender aspects of this one in comparison to Ouran.
A protagonist hiding their real gender is nothing new in the world of manga, but the way author Toyama handles it is clumsy. We’re supposed to believe that Mito spends the majority of her life wearing a short hair wig to hide her waist-length hair and I find it hard to believe this doesn’t slip off in her sleep. On top of that, there is a scene where Mito, Ruka and some friends go camping and Mito’s clothes get wet and turn transparent which makes her real gender much more obvious. Despite the fact Mito that is quite flat-chested, I still find it difficult to believe that Ruka has been close enough to drink blood from her neck and not notice she’s a woman!
Outside of those complaints, Toyama’s work on the series is fine. Her artwork is detailed and makes use of large panels to emphasize the emotions of the cast. She also uses these to highlight the big romantic moments where it’s clear Mito and Ruka are falling in love. If you’ve read any of her other manga then you’ll find her work here familiar but it’s less rough around the edges and much more polished. In general, her storytelling has matured and most of the worst shojo tropes she used to rely on are no longer present, such as pushy male characters. There is also plenty of set-up in the story for it to quickly descend into chaos, either because of Mito’s secret coming to light or from new additions to the cast which is a hallmark of Toyama’s where nothing stays peaceful for long!
Vampire Dormitory Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Kodansha and has been translated by Devon Corwin. The translation reads well with no issues to note. The series is ongoing in Japan at eight volumes and Kodansha has already released seven digitally. Volume 2 is already available in print, with Volume 3 to follow in February.
Overall, Vampire Dormitory Volume 1 proves another entertaining read from Ema Toyama. While certain aspects of the plot may leave readers rolling their eyes at how unbelievable it is, this one is still well worth checking out if you fancy a rom-com involving vampires.