REVIEW: ‘The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions,’ Volume 3

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The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions Volume 3

The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions is a manga series that feels both wholesome and sinister. In the last two volumes, we saw Al, a half-vampire who can’t control when he turns into a bat crash into Akira’s life, and the two begin to bond. But in Volume 2, Al was injured, attacked by a wanted serial killer, and nursed back to health by Akira. Plus, he begins to start his undead life in Japan, learning the language and working as a janitor in Akira’s funeral home. Now, in The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions Volume 3, we see the start of “Season 2” as dubbed by the mangaka, which focuses more on domestic life instead of a thrilling serial killer story.

The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions Volume 3 features an original story by Narise Konohara and art from Marimo Ragawa. Published and localized in English by Yen Press, the volume is translated by Taylor Engel and features lettering by Abigail Blackman. To be honest, The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions Volume 3 is a thick read. At 241 pages (not including ads and the two bonus stories), this volume offers a lot of story for readers and a whole lot of yearning too.

After several months in Japan, Al is becoming accustomed to life there. Living and working with Akira is a habit now. Even while bickering like an old married couple, Akira and Al have a pretty normal life now, and for the first time since his change to a vampire, Al has a place to belong. While the last volume dealt with a serial killer, this volume shifts drastically in tone. It moves from mystery and horror into a more traditional BL story, and more specifically, one pushed by a love triangle of sorts.

In The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions Volume 3, a new assistant arrives at Akira’s funeral home, the Old Memorial Center, and ends up developing a pretty overt crush on Akira. When Al is confronted with this, he realizes how quickly his new life and the first home he’s had in a long time could disappear. Not only that, Al realizes just how deep his feelings go and where his fear of loneliness is rooted in: jealousy. That said, Akira is a tough person to read.

Of course, this pushes the entire series towards yearning, and that works for it. Explained as a Season 2 for the series, the shift in The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions Volume 3 works extremely well. In fact, the connection and openness, even if it’s hard-won, is a beautiful element that gets to shine in this volume.

There is a foundation of love between the two; while it may have begun as platonic, Volume 3 pays off on the romantic tension that was teased in Volume 2. It offers payoff by directly steering the story into a romance, but some elements where characters describe the relationships between each other feel stuck in the 1990s. Ultimately though, Al and Akira are a pair to root for, to care for, and a couple I can’t wait to see flourish once they overcome dramatic plot elements.

Finally, the art in this volume, like the last, is whimsical and beautiful. Al, in his human form, is extremely attractive with a near bi-shonen beauty, and as a bat, Al is adorable. Additionally, there is an amount of darkness that hangs in the atmosphere as well that balances out the whimsy of Ragawa’s art.

Overall, The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions Volume 3 is dang good and executes a tonal shift that delivers. If there was any doubt that this series is a BL that’s gone now, and it’s for the best. I can’t wait to see Al and Akira grow together. More importantly, I can’t wait to watch Akira’s tsundere self emerge from his barrier and allow Al to bring out a larger vulnerability and love between them.

The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions Volume 3 is available now, wherever books are sold.

The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions Volume 3
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TL;DR

The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions Volume 3 is dang good and executes a tonal shift that delivers. If there was any doubt that this series is a BL that’s gone now, and it’s for the best. I can’t wait to see Al and Akira grow together.