U.S. manga readers know Sanami Matoh as the author of FAKE, an endearing (and, for shonen ai, fairly realistic) romantic drama about two (male) police officers who fall in love. Until the Full Moon, the second of her works to become available in English, is something else entirely. Fans of FAKE will recognize the author’s fondess for flamboyant hairstyles, outfits, and love at first sight, but Until the Full Moon takes place in a very different world. This is a world populated by vampires and werewolves, who trace their ancestry back to fairy tales and legends. David Vincent, a notorious player, is the son of a prominent vampire family. As a child, he was inseperable from his friend Marlo- son of a vampire father and a werewolf mother. He hasn’t seen Marlo for ten years when Marlo’s family arrives to pay the Vincent’s a visit. They’ve come with a problem for Dr. Arnet Vincent, a famous doctor in the vampire clan. It seems that Marlo has inherited an unusual trait from his mother’s werewolf clan: on full moon nights, instead of becoming a wolf, Marlo becomes a woman. Anxious to protect their child, Marlo’s parents want to arrange a marriage between her- when she is a her- and David. Marlo protests, but, as her father remarks, “I’m not going to let 100 or 200 year old kids go decide what’s best!” David, on the other hand, is intrigued- he’s had feelings for Marlo since they were teens. As the two try to make sense of their situation, Marlo’s female self begins to return David’s love. Is Marlo prepared to accept that love as a man?
Despite the somewhat unbelievable premise of Marlo and David’s sudden engagement, Until the Full Moon shares FAKE‘s essential sweetness. David’s love for Marlo knows no gender divisions, and Marlo’s gender transformations are handled with sensitivity and humor. The story moves so quickly, however, that it’s a bit hard to believe in the intensity of David’s feelings. The couple have declared their love by the end of the volume, but their personalities have yet to be fully established. The publisher has rated Volume 1 for ages 16 and up. While Marlo and David are sometimes a straight couple and sometimes not, depictions of sensuality are fairly mild throughout. Until the Full Moon is not necessarily a must-have for manga collections, but it is an oddly endearing tale of love and acceptance.