Title: A Bloody Kiss Tonight
Author: Makoto Tateno
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing (Doki Doki)
Volume: One-shot, $12.95
Vintage: 2009 by Shinshokan in Japan, 2010 by DMP
Genre: Yaoi (18+), drama, vampires
Riku Fujiki is a high school student working part time in a flower shop. One day a strange customer arrives and requests a bouquet of roses be delivered by Riku to a mysterious old house. When Riku arrives, he is directed by a voice to a room in the house, where three beautiful men are playing a game of shogi (Japanese chess). The one who ordered the flowers, Keito, requests that Riku come back every day from then on to deliver another batch of roses. For the next couple of nights, Riku has a strange dream and wakes up sweaty and covered in, um, bodily fluids. It seems someone has been violating him in his sleep. On his way to school, he collapses in the street and is whisked away by Keito to the old mansion. Keito is a vampire who has waited fifty years for Riku to be reborn, and will not give Riku up now that he has found him. Riku pleads with Keito to just kill him already, but Keito refuses and only ravages him over and over. Eventually, Riku begins to have strange nightmares, as the voices of his past selves who also knew Keito begin crying out in agony within his subconscious. The pieces slowly fall together as Riku learns the truth about his past with Keito, and the tragic history they share. Keito, whose long life as a vampire and strong blood ties to the first vampire have dulled his emotions, does not understand the truth of his feelings, until Riku eventually convinces him to end their game and make him a vampire as well so they’ll always be together. Still, it will take some time for Keito’s emotions to warm once again. Saisei (the vampires on the far left on the cover) takes center stage next, when he is spotted while feeding by a librarian named Nanao Yasuhara who is unaffected by his vampiric powers of persuasion. Intrigued by this man who seems immune to his powers, Saisei pursues Yasuhara to his library, where he forces him into sexual situations in exchange for not harming anyone in the library. Day after day, the vampire visits Yasuhara, but suddenly, one day, he stops coming. Yasuhara, having grown to used to his presence, searches him out, only to find that Saisei has been putting his very life at risk to continue seeing him. The third vampire, Natsuhi, also gets his own chapter, but it’s exceptionally short and barely worth mentioning. It only shows his kind nature and highlights how baffled the vampires are by human emotions.
Makoto Tateno has always been very hit or miss with me, even within the same book. There are things I quite like about A Bloody Kiss Tonight, but there are other things that get on my nerves. I’ve always been fond of reincarnation relationships, whether both people involved are continually reborn and end up together somehow, or one person live undying, constantly waiting for the other to be reborn into the world. I absolutely love stories like that. It’s a really nice touch when it’s a tragic story like this, where one continually destroys the other (or both destroy each other). I eat that stuff up. It worked in How to Seduce a Vampire, in Crimson Cross, in AIR, and in Angel Sanctuary. It works here, too…sort of. It would work better if it made more sense. The reason why Keito continually “dies” because of Riku is never made clear. Tateno just tells us that’s how it happened. Through some fault of Riku, whether by his own hand or by others affected by him, Keito “dies” over and over again. And because Keito loves him, he keeps seeking Riku out, and then waits for his death to come. I’m not really sure why. Either Keito is trying to permanently end his existence, but has been unable to, or he enjoys the agony of death and regeneration…which would be a bit odd. Because it’s not just that he waits for Riku to kill him; he actively attempts to make Riku hate him and seek out a way to destroy him. In fact, he frequently provides the means, by supplying Riku’s incarnations with the knowledge they need to defeat him. For Riku’s part, he seems continually pushed into a situation where Keito has to die somehow, but often rushes to save Keito from his fate, though he is always too late. Then, in his grief, he kills himself so that he will either join Keito in death, or be reborn quicker to join him again in life. Riku’s motivations and methods make sense; Keito’s do not. The reader is left trying to be happy that the two finally come to terms with their true feelings, while confused about why such a tragic cycle ever began. OK, enough about that. There are other things that keep this from striking a stronger chord with me. The forced sexual encounters being at the top of that list (and really, the only things on that list). Keito forces himself in Riku (in his sleep, even), then kidnaps him, and continues to have sex with him until Riku wakes up to the tortured souls of his past lives inside him and realizes that he’s always loved Keito (that’s convenient). Saisei does the same with Yasuhara. Or, well, what he actually does is blackmail Yasuhara into acquiescence in order to protect the people in the library, which isn’t much better. It’s non-con romance all over the place, but it’s written off by the fact that the human boys don’t exactly fight it off. Riku is usually asleep when it happens and thinks he’s dreaming, while Yasuhara chooses it over a vampiric rampage through his precious library. Otherwise, the story is typical Tateno, and if you enjoy her other yaoi works, you’ll likely enjoy this one as well.