Kaya Satozuka becomes the secretary for Kyouhei Tohma, a director at Tohma Corp and a secret vampire. Kaya’s competence wins her the secretary gig, but it’s her strangely delicious blood that makes Kyouhei fixate on her. Since blood becomes more delicious when a woman is aroused (convenient!), she’s soon his lover as well as his secretary and exsanguinatee. But will the human-hating Kyouhei ever love her back? Obviously, this manga is completely crazypants. And yet I. Could. Not. Stop. Reading.
Kyouhei ticks all the boxes for Arrogant Jerk Hero: Insults the heroine. Takes other lovers. Has mommy issues. Powerful kazillionaire executive at 27. Kaya, who is a brilliant executive secretary at 22, is not quite a doormat, but when Kyouhei comes on to her, it’s goodnight, logic and hello, lust. She continually tells herself that arranging for Kyouhei’s mistresses, sleeping with him, and feeding him are extensions of her secretarial duties, which is totally bananas. With the fashion styling, gender-stereotyped workplace, and outdated attitudes, it took the use of cell phones to remind me that this manga wasn’t set in 1950. (Japan does have one of the developed world’s worst records for women in the workplace, so maybe some things are accurate).
So why, oh why, couldn’t I stop reading? It’s hard to pin down. I definitely liked Kaya, at least when she wasn’t being overwhelmed by her hormones, and enjoyed her professional competence. I liked the fact that the vampires are not outrageously powerful. It’s not even clear that they are immortal. Their power is largely in the form of money and influence, the product of years of selectively breeding with high-status humans (vampires are only fertile with humans). I did not like Kyouhei, but the author kept tantalizing me by occasionally having him behave less badly than I expected, leading me to keep reading to see if he’d reform. (He does improve a little.) And I am a complete sucker for workplace romances.
The art was solid. Kaya has fantastic, stereotypical librarian-style suits and blouses. I haven’t coveted a cartoon character’s wardrobe this badly since I saw Belle descend the staircase to waltz with the Beast. She wears fake glasses (no love for us nearsighted girls, sigh) and pulls her hair back, which is cliche, but at least it’s to make her look older rather than to pretend she’s not pretty. The author does a good job of continuity through her various looks. I actually believed that glasses Kaya and dressy Kaya were the same person.
Kyouhei’s eyes are extremely expressive and somehow look exactly how vampire eyes should. On the downside, the author occasionally exaggerates his shoulder breadth so severely that he looks like a pinhead. I was grateful for the black-and-white, which made bloodletting during the sex scenes look artistic, instead of like the dining room after the little kids get into the marinara.
Basically, Midnight Secretary is crack. It’s not good for you, and you won’t want to tell other people that you’re doing it, but you will enjoy every minute that it keeps you up at night.