Happiness is anything but. Makoto Okazaki, a hapless bullied young man, returns a DVD late one night right after a news report about a man being killed in his area. He is set upon by a mysterious girl who bites his neck, turning him into a vampire. After the attack, Okazaki struggles along, trying to pretend nothing has happened, but he soon can’t ignore his new urges … and powers …
Happiness is one of those books that people will either love or hate because it basically has the same plot as every vampire movie/book out there. If you ever watched and loved The Lost Boys, this is for you. If you ever wanted to be a vampire so you could be super strong and punch a bully in the face, this book is for you. Populated by somewhat unlikable but relatable characters, Happiness taps into the primal desire for revenge and power. As Okazaki’s world changes around him he finds himself friends with fellow bullying victim Nunota, who wishes the school bully Yuuki would just die. He also meets Yukiko Gosho, a girl he attacks in the hallway. She mistakes his need for blood for boner trouble and for some reason hugs him close instead of fighting him off. They strike up a sort of awkward friendship that consists mostly of Gosho mocking him. With her unique personality, Gosho is an interesting character and deserves more character development than she gets in Volume 1.
The art in Happiness isn’t the slick anime style one might expect. Its rough pen and inks are more of a 90s seinen style despite being aimed at a younger crowd. But the crosshatched shading and scratchy style give the book a gritty look, adding to the overall atmosphere. The biggest weakness here is plot, which follows every standard Western vampire trope, not even coming close to the original spin of books like Tokyo Ghoul or even Vampire Knight. With luck, future volumes will expand Shuzo’s vampire world, but those who aren’t diehard vampire fans might want to give Happiness a pass. Readers who love vampires, however, may like it and will no doubt dust off that DVD copy of The Lost Boys afterward and give it a re-watch.
publisher: Kodansha Comics
story and art: Oshimi Shuzo