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July 7, 2014

Bento Bako Weekly: Midnight Secretary volumes 4-6

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Written by: Kristin
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midnightsecretary4Title: Midnight Secretary
Author: Tomu Ohmi
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volumes 4-6
Vintage: 2008-2009 by Shogakukan, 2014 by Viz Media
Genre: Romance, vampires

[Previous volume reviews.] [Also a warning for some spoilers, especially for volume 5.]

Kaya continues her double life working as a secretary at Erde and as Kyohei’s personal secretary and blood bank. It’s becoming more difficult, however, especially as Kyohei tries to convince her to abandon her work at Erde and become his secretary alone. Things become more complicated with Erde’s President Takasu becoming suspicious of her activities, but surprisingly Kyohei himself arrives to clear things up for her. Reminding Takasu that Kaya has immense pride in her job as a secretary, he convinces the man that Kaya can be professional in handling both jobs. Still, he’s not above making things awkward, and hires Erde to furnish his new offices. The experience of shopping with Kaya stirs something within Takasu, and he practically proposes marriage to her. Unfortunately for him, Kaya only has eyes for Kyohei. She soon wraps up her business with Erde and tenders her resignation to President Tohma so she can finally work for Kyohei full time. Now that she’s ever presence, Kaya must contend with Kyohei’s advisers, who do not have much faith in her abilities – Director Toru Higashigawa, Vice President Hirose Shimizu, and Director Yuuichiro Kenbuchi. Higashigawa in particular has little faith in Kaya; Shimizu trusts Kyohei’s judgment; but Kenbuchi seems mildly interested in her. Kaya, of course, continues to provide blood for Kyohei, typically gathered after some heated love making so the flavor is at its finest and most nourishing. Despite her growing feelings, she attempts to separate them from her job as his secretary, which includes providing her boss with the best blood. For his part, Kyohei is growing more reliant on Kaya’s blood, and starting to become annoyed with feeding on other women. Things become complicated when another vampire, Marika, a close friend of Kyohei’s, appears, and she’s not happy with Kaya’s presence.

midnightsecretary5Kaya isn’t thrilled with Marika’s appearance, either. The woman intrudes on the space she thought was reserved for her and Kyohei alone, and it drives home to her that she’s just a secretary, just a meal for Kyohei. Even so, when Kyohei’s mother visits and attempts to apologize for her son’s birth as a vampire, Kaya steps in and defends her boss’s pride. When she later insists that it’s only because someone insulted her boss, Kyohei snaps and finally admits that what he wants is Kaya the person, not Kaya the secretary or Kaya the meal. Even though he’s admitted that, he still can’t quite accept that he has feelings for a mere human. The laws of the vampire clan bind him…but they don’t bind Kaya. Gathering her courage, Kaya approaches Kyohei as herself – a human, a secretary, and a woman who loves him. She can’t change what or who she is, and Kyohei realizes the same. He’s a vampire, but he’s also in love with a human, so he decides to live by his own rules and be himself. Unfortunately, immediately after Kyohei has a talk with Marika, and then informs Kaya that they’ll be seeing less of each other over the next month. Kaya thinks she’s done something wrong, and frets continually over the status of their relationship since Kyohei essentially cuts all contact off besides a basic business relationship. At the end of the month, Kaya demands answers, and is surprised to find that Kyohei made an arrangement with Marika to test his feelings. Per their agreement, Marika will now secretly supply Kyohei with blood substitute so he can safely feed on Kaya alone. Kaya still doesn’t know how to define their relationship, but now at least she’s the only woman in his life. Even so, Kaya realizes the blood substitute, at least at first, isn’t quite enough, and begins to worry that being solely with her will destroy him (not to mention make him looked down upon by other vampires). Kyohei not only assures her that her blood alone is enough, he makes it clear to the other vampires he loves Kaya and she is his alone.

midnightsecretary6Now that their feelings are clear, Kyohei has no desire to hide his relationship with Kaya. Unfortunately, Kaya is worried that his reputation will suffer if people find out he’s dating his secretary, so he presents her as a woman named Kaya Satozuka. They know there will be problems ahead, especially in getting the vampire clan to accept their relationship, but they’re both willing to face those problems together. One of those problems arises quickly when Kaya fears she may be pregnant. Kyohei has been making an effort to specifically not get her pregnant, but accidents do happen, so Kaya takes a pregnancy test. It’s a bit clich√©, but of course Kyohei finds out, and he isn’t pleased, though not for the reason Kaya expects. Kyohei knows what bearing a vampire’s child means, and he has no desire to put Kaya through such turmoil, nor does he want her having to deal with the clan because of it. The level the clan would go to in order to lay claim to a vampire child is made clear immediately when the clan gets wind of Kaya’s possible pregnancy. The clan’s leader sends out his own servant to investigate, a human named Hiraoka, whose family has served the clan for generations. At the same time, other members of the clan take action on their own and attempt to kidnap Kaya. Hiraoka also intends to bring Kaya back with him, but Kyohei clears up the ¬†misconception, while Kaya makes it clear that even if she were to have Kyohei’s child, she would never let the clan become involved. Soon after, marriage proposals start popping up for Kaya, as the clan’s leader attempts to put her in a position to be of use to the clan since they have no intention of bearing a child (which is considered one of a vampire’s major duties). As long as Kyohei is with her, he’s useless to the clan, and Kaya has nothing to offer as she is merely a secretary. The clan leader decides to get directly involved and attempts to convince Kaya that her love for Kyohei is artificial, merely Kyohei’s subconscious use of his vampire abilities to overpower her own will. Their troubles are far from over.

Finally some progress! Progress that humanizes Kyohei so he stops looking like such a colossal, manipulative asshole. His character goes through some serious development in these volumes, from being eternally frustrated over Kaya, to recognizing that he does in fact have feelings for her. And that it’s OK for him to have them. He’d been so worried about his pride as a vampire being destroyed if he deigned to love a human, but has found a way to balance his pride as a vampire with his love for Kaya. Partly because Kaya is filled with pride for him. He can be his complete self around her, and she accepts him, and recognizes who and what he is. She also won’t stand for anyone looking down on him or trying to diminish his actions, but while Kyohei likes that, a human being defiant to a vampire over another vampire isn’t very helpful. It’s nice to see her stand up for him, and to see Kyohei moved by it, but it really only infuriates the vampire clan further. What’s really great about these three volumes is the character growth of Kaya and Kyohei, and the change in their relationship from predator and prey to a couple on more equal ground. They both grow and change throughout, but particularly Kyohei, who gradually comes to terms with his feelings for Kaya and reconciles them with his pride as a vampire. She becomes part of that pride, which while confusing to the other vampires, is great in terms of development. The sort of development we don’t always get in stories like this, where there’s genuine change in the male lead. But don’t worry if you’re here for the smut, because there’s still plenty of sexy scenes. More vampires, family conflicts, clan politics, a growing relationship, and a well paced story nearing its conclusion –¬†Midnight Secretary has been a pleasant surprise and a really decent read lately. I look forward to seeing how Kaya and Kyohei’s relationship concludes.




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