Art & Original Story: Tama Mitsuboshi
Cover Design: Kaoru Kuroki (Baybridge Studio)
Translation: Amanda Haley
Lettering: Lys Blakeslee
What They Say:
Deep in the forest resides a curious pair – Mira, a girl with an affliction that calls forth the night, and Rei, a kindly doctor searching for the cure. Their days pass peacefully, until an old acquaintance of Rei’s appears …
Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Within an idyllic meadow away from prying eyes, lies a serene cottage which welcomes the first rays of morning sun, but as a groggy girl within wipes away the last bits of sleep while attempting to greet her Master, she notices there is no one here to reply to an unsure question, only to have those worries secured after reading a mocking message from her teacher Rei that he has left on some urgent business, leaving a packaged breakfast upon the table with the teasing note. But as an upset Mira eats her meal with disappointment for not getting up earlier, those anxieties compound once she returns to a gloomy room, comfortingly squeezing her pillow as she attempts to chase away misgivings of not being able to see her adviser, and yet as this upset girl realizes she is all alone until the afternoon, it is under this increasing melancholy that her heart begins to beat faster, causing an inky smoke to eerily seep from her chest. Although she tries to command it not to come out, the unsettling blackness will not listen and continues to expand, gradually swallowing everything around her and threatening to envelope all. Yet as this ominous menace grows, a dismayed man’s voice enters the house and is immediately received by a pair of panicked shadows, tugging the hem of his robe and down the corridor until they reach Mira’s room, where he sees the night is threatening to take over everything. Not hesitating to walk into the haunted area, he is addressed by a tearful girl who apologizes for an avoidable mistake, but instead of scolding this frightened child, Master calmly pats her on the head and patiently states the night can be chased away by the sun, briskly opening the curtain and exposing any lingering fears to the purifying light.
As the events of a regretful afternoon begin to settle down, Rei walks back into the cleansed room and asks his student is she has a moment, handing over a warm drink and questioning if Mira is ready to set a wake-up time, for while she is able to settle down easily, this anxious girl is unable to rouse herself with the same simplicity, so if she lets the sun in early, it will help to chase away the night which still clings around the chamber plus help to shake the lethargy she feels in the mornings, and also build up confidence in herself which in turn will remedy any anxiety. After taking a moment to consider this strange idea, Mira wonders aloud what time her Master gets up and is surprised by harsh reality, yet boldly resolves to wake with Rei so that she can follow his advice, which in turn alarms her teacher as he accepts this brave determination to immediately change routines, telling this adamant patient it would be best to retire now so she can keep her promise. However, when the sunlight begins to pierce her curtains and shadows do their best to wake this drowsy dreamer, an unsure Mira forgets prior decisions and tries to go back to sleep, only to then remember foggy intentions with a chance to build up belief in herself, forcefully getting up and rushing to the lavatory in order to splash on a still bewildered face. After wiping off with an usually soft towel and almost falling asleep again, it then when she is surprised by an oddly familiar man standing behind her and reflected in the mirror, not recognizing this bedraggled person as being her Master, his hair a mess and cheery personality hidden behind the cloak of the night, with a sudden shriek of surprise from his student being enough to rouse Rei and congratulate Mira for keeping her promise, all while he attempts to wake himself with an unusually long yawn.
Upon reading the concerning synopsis for Call the Name of the Night, and witnessing the insanely cute depiction of Mira upon the cover, one cannot but be charmed by the genuine openness of this child, and yet simultaneously it makes readers wonder what her affliction might be when we are only told she can call forth the night. It is not until we dive into this charming story by Mitsuboshi-sensei that are we allowed a glimpse into the unique closeness between doctor and patient, one which is not so professional that Rei must separate himself from becoming too attached to this girl, but warmly taking advantage of their comforting relationship, almost as if they are father and adoptive daughter, in lieu of student and master, through which he teaches this sheltered girl how to open up to the world she is afraid of hurting, instead of withdrawing so that she does not frighten people with her uncontrollable curse. Tender words and adorable images combine seamlessly and make Mira and Rei’s interaction sincerely endearing, reflecting how this kind physician does not rush into finding a cure for a frightening illness, instead allowing each moment to be a mindful lesson into how to control it, expanding her isolated world and dwindling confidence, while allowing her to keep an optimistic outlook as she misses her loving parents, never dwelling on the pain of the past but looking forward to a brighter future.
One cannot but smile with each darling chapter, readers are captivated by Mira’s profound innocence, which is in turn amplified by Mitsuboshi-sensei’s delightful depiction in classic bishōjo and bishounen style, our heroine made cuter due to large open eyes with fluffy hair framing her cherubic face, and the male leads charmingly handsome to the point of jealousy, and yet it is clever usage of this classic female vulnerability which allows for the audience to become endeared by this sheltered girl, all while subconsciously knowing someone will take advantage when the time is right. We knew it was only a matter of time when that someone could come in the form of Cartos, the charming friend of Rei who seems innocent, and yet if one has read enough manga and recognizes patterns of manipulation, immediately realizing this impetuous researcher will do anything to sate his curiosity, even harming his subject, if it means getting results. While the audience may detest this type of antagonist, it allows the reader to become more sympathetic toward Mira’s naivety, wishing to protect her from people like Cartos, but also understanding moments like these are powerful lessons she needs to become more confident in recognizing who she can trust, not to be swayed by tender words and realizing not everyone is as kind as Rei and her parents.
Call the Name of the Night is a sincerely endearing view into the vulnerability of isolation, and while the story at times is predictable due to usage of classic narrative tropes, it does not lack in appeal due to the heartwarming relationship between Mira and Rei, allowing any cynicism we might have when approaching the title to vanish like the night which threatens to consume our poor heroine when she is overcome by negative emotions. It is this optimistic outlook toward life which makes the title instantly appealing, and though this charm may be too sweet at times for some people’s taste, one cannot deny indulging in stories like this makes the harshness of life less burdensome, especially when we have protagonists who are as open with their feelings that they are instantly charming. However, as the story progresses and the audience wonders what is next for this sheltered patient and her caring doctor, we cannot but question is their journey will be extended by more delightful stories, or will it also be made too saccharine due to those same adorable tales.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: March 21, 2023