It’s two days after Valentine’s Day, so let’s talk about something romantic… like vampires!
Vampires are an old staple of horror fiction, and the lesbian vampire is almost as old as that (predating Dracula even). Naturally, it’s hard not to see vampirism as something erotic as well as horrific: the charming stranger, the moonlit encounter, the seduction, and the arousing experience of quickening blood…
Well, leave it to manga author Natsuneko to turn the lesbian vampire plot into something cute and racy. Nightmare Syndrome is a one-shot Yuri manga about the unlikely romance between a vampire named Vega and a vampire hunter named Elysia. After Vega killed her father, Elysia swore revenge and prepared to go after her with all the traditional vampire-killing tools: guns, holy water, crosses, garlic, and a silver knife. However, rather than kill or convert her, Vega took Elysia into her home, treating her as a valued guest despite Elysia’s daily failed attempts to kill her undead hostess. Things come to a head when a band of vampire hunters break in to kill Vega, who offers her life in exchange for Elysia’s safety. Touched by this, Elysia helps defeat the hunters and saves Vega’s life in return by offering up her own blood.
For such a short tale, there’s a lot of material covered. It throws the reader right into the action of Elysia’s vengeful quest matched against Vega’s bored reaction and considerate chats. The lesbian subtext is deliberately strong (including a bathtub surprise scene), although nicely balanced out with Vega’s willingness to stand back.
It’s also worth noting how Elysia has no one else after her father’s death, so while there is something twisted in having to live under the same roof as his murderer, she also does reluctantly enjoy having the vampire’s company. It culminates in Vega’s sacrifice, which makes Elysia confront her solitude and the truth about their relationship. She learns to see that vampires don’t always have to be heartless monsters, and even Vega refers to her condition as her “sin,” from which Elysia’s presence provided some relief. This is an angle that a lot of vampire stories take, as the vampire character tries to balance his or her monstrous nature with a human spirit. It’s a bit rushed, but considering how short this story is, it’s delivered well.
The manga also reflects well on the nature of revenge, as Elysia wants justice for her father and the other vampire hunters just see Vega as one more unholy monster to be destroyed. But in seeing her competitors, Elysia also has to confront what kind of man her father was and whether or not he really was killed unjustly.
And as a final bit, the illustration was nicely done, if at times a bit of the standard Yuri fare (bathtub scene, unwanted advances, etc.). All in all, Nightmare Syndrome is a decent same-sex romance story and a decent vampire story. It’s short, it’s simple, and it’s kinda sweet in a morbid way.
Bibliography: Nightmare Syndrome (manga). Written and illustrated by Natsuneko. Comic Yuri Hime. Tokyo: Ichijinsha, 1999.