Dawn of the Arcana Vol 13 and Midnight Secretary Vol 7

These are both great series from the Shojo Beat line that are concluding! I always feel a bit wistful when reading final volumes, but fortunately I am quickly distracted by new manga series.

Dawn of the Arcana Vol 13 by Rei Toma

In this volume of Dawn of the Arcana, Nakaba and Caesar are reunited, while Loki makes an unexpected demand – to be given the kingdom of Senan so humans and Ajin can live separately. Nakaba is absolutely against this, seeing a way for her and Caesar to bring both people together, but Loki leaves, determined to secure a kingdom for the Ajin. Nakaba is heartbroken, starting to adjust to life in Belquat as Caesar’s queen yet again. She closes herself off from her magical powers, not wanting to suffer again if she sees Loki in a vision. One of the things that I’ve always liked about this series is that it is a bit more about the world the characters live in than the romantic issues that they need to work through. So Nakaba and Caesar set to rebuilding their world without Ajin, as the country of Senan becomes more closed off and mysterious. When an almost grown-up Rito shows up with a message from Senan, this sets off a series of surprising revelations that can change how readers interpreted the story from the very beginning. I have to admit, I was genuinely surprised by this concluding plot twist.

Dawn of the Arcana
was one of those series that grows on readers gradually. I remember enjoying but feeling slightly ambivalent about the first volume, but after reading a few more I knew I’d be reading the rest of the series. While there is plenty of romantic angst, the focus on world buliding, geopolitics, and human-Ajin race relations made the story seem more expansive than usual for a shoujo fantasy series.

Midnight Secretary Vol 7 by Tomu Ohmi

Seven volumes seems like just the right length for this manga about a dedicated secretary and her vampire boss. In this volume Kyohei is formally banished from the vampire clan because he refuses to part from Kaya. But as they start to figure out how to live on their own, they have to start working on ways to deal with complications like Kyohei’s regular blood supply and the loss of business that occurs when Kyohei’s new company starts running into trouble. There’s an additional issue as Kaya’s blood starts to turn toxic to Kyohei, further straining their relationship. There’s never any doubt that this manga is headed to a happily ever ending for this unconventional couple, and readers wanting to see Kaya and Kyohei set up as a strong couple facing their future together won’t be disappointed. There’s an extra bonus chapter that flips the gender dynamics of the whole book, as vampire Marika finds her “Midnight Butler.” This was a great bonus story, and it was interesting to see Marika in a different context, because she’d only showed up as a friend of Kyohei’s before. Overall, this was an extremely satisfying josei-disguised-as-shoujo-series, and I’m delighted that I can now switch over to Ohmi’s Spell of Desire for similar supernatural romance!

Review copies provided by the publisher

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