Kotoyama’s Dagashi Kashi is one of my favorite manga of the past ten years. So, when I saw a couple years ago that they started another manga, I jumped at the chance to give my early impressions of their new title: Yofukashi no Uta. Since then, I kept reading in Japanese while doubtful that it would get licensed in English, but that’s exactly what happened!
Released by VIZ, Call of the Night (as it’s now called) is a laid-back yet moody story that’s subtly charming while defying expectations. The story revolves around Japanese boy named Yamori Kou, who wanders his town at night due to a general feeling of dissatisfaction, and Nanakusa Nazuna, an immortal vampire girl who’s not big on creating undead progeny and would rather have fun her own way. Kou decides that he wants to become a vampire, but it’s not just a matter of having his blood sucked—he also has to fall in love with Nazuna for it to work. Thus, in order to fulfill his goal, Kou must learn to understand his own feelings and to find what it would take for love to enter his heart.
Not Just a Vampire Story
I think it’d be all too easy, and even unfair, to write off Call of the Night as just another vampire story. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the genre, but I think the way Kotoyama approaches the concept and builds his story to include it gives more than enough for those who just want an interesting manga regardless of its supernatural trappings. In addition to the basic vampire-oriented jokes (Kou’s blood is apparently super delicious), it’s just a really clever and poignant character study that touches on the balance of joy and malaise, as well as the burden of social expectations. One defining contrast between Kou and Nazuna is that the former is comfortable talking about romance but blushes at anything remotely dirty, while the latter is the exact opposite. Anytime a conversation veers towards sex, Kou quickly tries to change the subject, while Nazuna can’t stand thinking about love.
That’s the foundation for a lot of the humor in the story, but there are other amusing moments as well. For example, the topic of cell phones comes up, and Nazuna replies that she has one already. However, Nazuna’s phone turns out to be one of those gigantic Zack Morris-style portable bricks, hinting that she’s at least a couple decades older than Kou despite her appearance. The presence of “outdated” items like the cell phone and even wristwatch walkie-talkies lend a certain nostalgic atmosphere to the series in general, somewhat like how dagashi plays a role as old-fashioned candy in Dagashi Kashi.
I’ve read past the first volume that’s currently out in English, but without spoiling too much, there are later developments that add some interesting wrinkles. The addition of new characters familiar with Nazuna expands her world and her identity more, such that her story gets fleshed out to a greater degree. She already isn’t quite your typical vampire, but the story goes on to further emphasize that.
While I have some of the books in Japanese, I plan on getting all of them in English going forward. Kotoyama makes some fine manga, and I hope that they find success outside of Japan as well.