Manga Review: Midnight Secretary
Published by Viz Media on September 3rd 2013
Genres: Romance, Supernatural
Buy from: Amazon • Book Depository • Comixology
Midnight Secretary follows the life of Kaya Satozuka, the private secretary of Director Kyouhei Touma of the Touma Company, and the secrets kept between them.
Kaya quickly accustoms herself to scheduling his “dinner dates” and working odd hours, but can she handle it when Kyohei’s smoldering gaze starts turning her way?!
Anyone who knows me knows I am up for checking out any book that has to do with vampires. It’s just one of my things, you know? Some people like their billionaires, others their cowboys, and others still Highlanders or Vikings. Me, it’s vampires. So of course I was going to read a romance manga with vampires in it.
If I were to describe Midnight Secretary, it’s as an office romance Twilight AU that still keeps the vampires (and adds sex). Or, 50 Shades of Grey, except not as horrifying, blatantly ripped off, and with vampires instead of BDSM. Or your classic billionaire/secretary Harlequin novel… but with vampires.
It’s a classic ‘plain girl meets man who cannot deal with his feels’ story. He’s an arsehole, she’s very good at her job, and when she discovers his dark little secret – that he is a vampire – she becomes determined to be the best secretary for a vampire possible. Of course, things go chaotic when Kara offers her blood in an emergency.
The vampire mythos in this universe isn’t touched on too much; most of the focus is on the emotions – the hidden, the denied, the eventually acknowledged – but what does appear I found quite fascinating. In Midnight Secretary, vampires are born, not made, and can only be produced through a union between a vampire and a human. Most of the time the resulting child is human (like Kyouhei’s older brother) but occasionally the child is a vampire. These unions are supposed to be temporary – vampires are not meant to love and stay with humans. This is despite the high sexualisation of this form of vampirism: vampires here involve themselves sexually with their prey and feed during the act itself. Sexual pleasure apparently enhances the flavour of the blood. But you can’t get emotionally involved.
(So of course you know what has to happen.)
The artwork is quite lovely, with some very nice outfits for Kaya especially. There is a lot of nudity in this story, but it’s quite elegant, softly blurred and not too graphic. The focus definitely is on the female form here, although that fits in with the emphasis on female please throughout the series. The characters are all easily identifiable, their expressions clear even with minimal detailing. The chapter illustrations, with their extra detailing and care, are just plain gorgeous.
Midnight Secretary is set in Japan, with the entire cast being Japanese. For readers unfamiliar with manga, just because someone is drawn with light hair or other features one might consider “more Western” doesn’t make them so.
The story and setting is very heteronormative, with it being stated explicitly that vampires only feed on – and sleep with – members of the opposite sex.
For me, Midnight Secretary was an easy read for when I just wanted to satisfy those romantic id moments: the misunderstandings, the reforming bad boy, the “I am having feels and I cannot deal” love interest, and, of course, vampires. It was quick and easy to get through (I went through all seven volumes in the space of a few hours) and a nice change from heavier, longer books I am working through.
And, you know, vampires. Vampires are always good.