The Vexations of a Shut-In Vampire Princess, Vol. 1

By Kotei Kobayashi and riichu. Released in Japan as “Hikikomari Kyuuketsuki no Monmon” by GA Bunko. Released in North America by Yen On. Translated by Evie Lund.

As every writer will tell you, it’s much harder to write comedy than it is to write drama. Something that is funny to one person will be boring, annoying, or offensive to four other people. It can be especially difficult when you’re trying to balance out your book, having a lot of funny things in the front half before it gets dark and turns serious. I’ve talked before about Japanese light novel authors in particular being bad at this, singling out the writers of A Certain Magical Index and Strike the Blood for putting in lowbrow harem comedy “whoops I fell into her boobs” moments to lighten up the honestly very well written action and drama in those books. The Vexations of a Shut-In Vampire Princess has comedy that is absolutely dire and painful to read, but it does eventually up the stakes and make things more serious. Unfortunately, that only improves the book very slightly.

Terakomari Gandesblood is the daughter of a renowned family of vampires, so it’s sort of a shame that she’s weak, can’t use magic, is clumsy, and looks younger than she is. Then one day a maid shows up and announces that she’s going to be one of the new Seven Crimson Lords who wage war on behalf of the Empress of their country against the other six countries that surround them. This HORRIFIES Komari, who has barely left her room in the last three years owing to a bullying incident while at school. What’s worse, she’s assigned a company full of perverts, murderers and wastrels, who are famous for mutiny against their new commanders. How on earth is she supposed to deal with this? Can she stop her new maid from being a complete pervert? And why does she have no memory of the incident from three years ago that supposedly started her shut-in days?

Saying what’s wrong with this book will take a while, so let’s dig right in. The first 40% or so is the comedy part, and it’s not funny. Lots of jokes about Komari almost peeing herself (always a bad sign in light novels), the main constantly sexually harasses Komari, the military company are all tenth-generation Irresponsible Captain Tylor rejects, and there is also a guy who raps. Through the entire book. I also dislike the main conceit, which is that they live close to what is essentially a magical resurrection thingummy, so while nearly everyone is brutally murdered in this book, no one actually dies. And once we get Komari’s true backstory and who she really is – and more to the point how it’s covered up – it feels like the villain might be a bit justified in being upset. As for the serious bits, as noted, they’re handled better than the comedy, but they’re also very predictable – the entire final fight had precisely zero surprises.

To sum up: having lesbian maids trying to grope our teenage heroine when she’s trying to go to the bathroom isn’t funny, light novel authors. Thank you.