No Vampire, No Happy Ending Volume 1 is a shonen romantic-comedy manga written and drawn by Shinya Shinya, translated by Christine Dashiell, and published by TokyoPop. Within the first volume, we are introduced to Akira, a girl who has loved vampires ever since she was young. One day, she is investigating the mysterious castle in her town and finds herself an amnesiac vampire named Divo.
From the get-go, No Vampire, No Happy Ending Volume 1 leans heavily into the comedy aspect. Numerous little gags occur that shy away from the melodramatic, brooding nature of most vampire-romance pieces (i.e. Twilight or True Blood). Akira yells at Divo to stop sunbathing, as vampires are supposed to be “allergic” to the sun. Akira reminds Divo that he shouldn’t be kind to her, he should instead thirst for her blood. He goes to put his mouth on her arm and slobbers all over her instead of biting her. These, alongside many other moments in the manga, bring nothing but a smile to my face.
Shinya characterizes Akira to be an ultimate vampire expert. She’s read all the stories, watched all the movies, and knows exactly how vampires are expected to act, but she is thrown for a loop by the existence of Divo. It is easy for fans of vampire stories to see themselves in Akira. Every time that Divo behaves funny and Akira attempts to course-correct his behavior, it reminds me of the days when I felt like I was the vampire connoisseur for watching all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer by the age of 13. Shinya does a remarkable job of keeping the tone of the book lighthearted and fun while pulling at your inner teen girl.
Shinya’s characterization skills excel with Divo as well. Drawn as a beautiful, long white-haired boy with romantic-era ruffled shirts and long coats, it juxtaposes with how Shinya writes Divo as a bumbling idiot. Because of his amnesia, he is harmless and absentminded. He is not worried about blood-sucking, vampire superiority over humans, or roaming his ominous castle. Instead, he comedically loves eating slices of Akira’s grandmother’s apple pie and whether or not he can keep a smile on Akira’s face. All of the comedic and romantic aspects of No Vampire, No Happy Ending Volume 1 hit and lands perfectly.
However, there are aspects of this first volume that could be improved on. Shinya’s lettering often clutters pages where Akira is talking. Speech balloon borders are transparent over images and blend into Shinya’s artwork. Panels that are inked to depict the nighttime feature text dialogue that is black with not enough white shading to have it pop out from the panel. Sound effects are placed within character outlines and merge into characters rendering their actions ineffective. It makes me sad to notice this lettering issue because it lowers the quality of Shinya’s artwork.
Shinya’s art is cute and stylish. Hair designs are angular and choppy, featuring lots of cowlicks. Characters all have very elaborate clothing designs. Akira sports a cafe-pinafore with a bow at her neckline, a ruffled apron with a small apple logo (a reference to her aunt’s apple pies), and adorable mary janes. Divo has numerous costume changes, which I appreciate because often characters don’t get to really change their usual outfits. Divo crossdresses and wears the cutest long, flowing skirt with sailor shirts or classic babydoll dresses. There are panels devoted to showing off Divo and I love how all the characters adore this pretty vampire boy. With fashion being the focus of Shinya’s art, the landscapes and backgrounds are rather plain and I find that it works nicely because it places the emphasis on the character designs.
Overall, there are so many things I love about No Vampire, No Happy Ending Volume 1. Other vampire fans will enjoy the troupe subversions explored with Divo and see themselves in Akira. The plot is fun and silly and never takes itself too seriously. I hope that, as this series continues, we will be able to see Shinya evolve as a mangaka.
Pick this TokyoPop title up if you need something cute and fluffy to hold you over. No Vampire, No Happy Ending Volume 1 is available anywhere manga is sold.
No Vampire, No Happy Ending Volume 1
Overall, there are so many things I love about No Vampire, No Happy Ending Volume 1. Other vampire fans will enjoy the troupe subversions explored with Divo and see themselves in Akira. The plot is fun and silly and never takes itself too seriously.