Upon reading the back cover of the Light Novel Amagami Emmenthal (あまがみエメンタール), I commented to the wife, “You gotta figure that any story in which the clothing gets credit as a cast member is definitely gonna be *great.*” (I was being sarcastic, in case that doesn’t come across well in text.) In the end, the clothes actually *were* a member of the cast, and I could sort of see it being justifiable. But I’m starting with the end, so let me move backwards to the beginning.
At Seiran Private Girls School, Kokone and Riko are classmates, roommates and, apparently, soulmates. But their relationship is far darker than that. Riko is a vampire and Kokone is her source of blood. On the other side, the continued pain and scars from Riko’s feeding over the years has turned Koko-chan into a masochist, who fetishizes the wounds Riko causes.
The story begins with them in middle school then, much like this review, backs up into their first meeting in first grade, then follows them through the years to high school. Most of that time is spent watching Kokone become a first-class fetishist. (Also bitching about how the name of her class is “Bamboo.” The rest of the classes are Rose, Chrysanthemum, the usual, and they’re in Bamboo. Rose gets the nice elite rooms – you can bet that Bamboo class gets economy class apartments.)
Riko’s Goth-Loli clothes are not just an indicator of her “otherness.” She is, in fact, the daughter of a famous Goth-Loli clothing designer. A designer that appears to us to be doing everything she can to keep her daughter out of the house. Kokoke avoids going home because she hates her stepmother and resents her father for dumping her in this school.
Koko and Riko are an odd, but not unsuited couple. If the story didn’t linger in quasi-sexual imagery while they were still young it would be more palatable, but that is the story – the quasi-awakening of Kokone’s quasi-sexual interest in Riko, who is only quasi-normal.
The climax, when it comes, is not nearly as shocking as it might be. We are meant to think that Riko’s mother is working hard and that suddenly, she is exiled to Europe with no message to Riko, while her younger sister takes over the business. But, it is ridiculously obvious that the truth is far more simple – and it was the clothes that were the clue. I won’t give away the riveting truth. You might *want* to read this book.
When Kokone reveals the truth to Riko, the Goth-Loli vampire nearly kills Kokone in her pain. But don’t worry – everyone lives happily ever after in this novel. And no schoolgirls were harmed in the making of this book.
It was weird. Even for a vampire novel, it was sappy and purple and salacious. And the Sadomasochism thing rang really weirdly with the whole private schoolgirl setting, but oddly worked better than I would have expected. The biggest bad was Riko being portrayed at such infantile extremes. Had she been a cool, adult, sexy vampire, the story would have worked fine for me. Instead, she acts and speaks throughout as if she is six years old, which just made me want to spike her through the heart.
Oh – why is Riko a vampire? No clue. She just is a human who needs blood. Period. Stop asking questions – you’ll only be disappointed.
Art – lascivious and infantilizing, just the way you moe fans like
Story – See above
Characters – Once more for good measure
Yuri – 6
Service – Googleplex
Overall – 6
Yes, in the end Riko and Kokone love one another. Another couple that I heartily approve of their relationship, so as not to inflict them on anyone else ever. ^_^