Call of the Night is a manga which, before the announcement of its release with us, undoubtedly piqued the interest of many potential readers with its intriguing covers. Published in Japan under the title Yofukashi no Uta, this is the second series by the artist Kotoyama, offered since 2019 in the magazine Shônen Sunday from Shôgakukan editions. The curiosity that we could feel for the title has potentially increased tenfold recently with the start of the broadcast of its animated adaptation produced by Liden Films and directed by four hands by Tetsuya Miyanishi and Tomoyuki Itamura, an adaptation that can be found at home on the DNA platform.
Kô Yamori is a very ordinary middle school student. Only, his daily life leaves him unmoved, and the boy began to develop insomnia. One night, he turns a corner by going for a walk alone, discovering a nocturnal neighborhood in which he feels at ease. It is at this moment that he meets Nazuna Nanakusa, a vampire with adolescent appearance who has nothing malicious, but who would like to be able to benefit regularly from the blood of Kô which she considers delicious. For his part, it is a whole universe of the night that he gets to know thanks to his new friend. Convinced that he has a place there, he wishes Nazuna to make him a blood drinker. But for that, their relationship must fulfill one condition: The transformed being must be in love with the vampire who sucks his blood. For the young man who is not interested in love, this is a delicate challenge, and that’s why he decides to follow Nazuna in his daily night life!
On the cover, it’s hard to imagine exactly what Call of the Night is. A thriller series? A macabre vampiric title? Nothing of that. Kotoyama’s touch is misleading and, paradoxically, will come to constitute one of the strengths of this first opus. Thus, the story of Kô and Nazuna is nothing but a sentimental comedy with fantastic impulses, and taking place in a nocturnal setting. The author revisits here the myth of the vampire in a style of his own: With a love story, certainly, but totally in its infancy, between two original protagonists by their temperaments and their experiences. Between a boy not inclined to human relations and a mischievous but sensitive Nazuna when it comes to love, we quickly know that this romcom will not play in classicism.
Once the discovery of the proposal has passed, all that remains is to appreciate a first volume in episodic form. Each chapter narrates a moment from the nightlife of the two main characters, with its share of gags, and sometimes even misunderstandings when a third character arrives in the game. The diagram may seem uninspired and conducive to quickly creating weariness in the story, but it is not so, thanks to a determining element of the manga: Its night frame with which Kotoyama seeks to transcribe all the freedom that Kô experiences after getting to know this dark but liberating environment. No crowds, but an almost deserted city that would almost become an amusement ground for two figures discovering each other. Moreover, the interactions between them never lack spice, Kotoyama even managing to make Nazuna’s libidinous humor effective, which is also an asset of our French version that we owe to Xaviere Daumarie, very inspired on the exchanges between the protagonists.
And, as mentioned at the start, it’s the artist’s style that gives a particular character to the whole. Quite confusing at first glance, it quickly shows itself to be impeccable in its ability to depict these nocturnal urban environments in such a way that the reader would also like to walk there. For the characters, the mangaka uses a very fine and expressive touch, making the interactions between Kô and Nazuna even more evident, which always hit the mark. As disturbing as the cover illustration may seem, Kotoyama’s aesthetic brings quite the opposite throughout the volume.
Call of the Night is therefore this little breath of fresh air, a caustic vampiric romantic comedy, funny and lively, where the feeling of freedom allowed by this twilight metropolis immediately takes us away. The author already has our full confidence, and we can’t wait to find the pair again for their new adventures. Fortunately for us, Kurokawa had the good idea to publish the first two opuses simultaneously for the launch of the title!