Friday, May 2, 2014

Manga you probably never heard of: Blood Lad

Blood Lad is one of those manga stories that takes the stereotypical monster trope and turns it on it's head. If you wanted a manga that isn't mainstream and doesn't follow the rules then Blood Lad is it.

Deep in the Makai (demon world in Japanese lore) the protagonist of our story is the disenfranchised son of a vampiric line. Staz grew up with wealth, opportunity, prestige and prominence. So of course he decided to throw all that away and become an Otaku.

At the point in which we begin our story Staz has been idling in the city most of his life, collecting video games and manga and occasionally kicking the crap out of interlopers who infringe on his territory. That's how the Makai runs; the demon world is divided into territories held by those strong enough to defend them. Staz is smart, capable and powerful but super lazy and selfish -not exactly your typical shounen hero.

That all changes the day a human girl accidently finds her way into the Makai world, and worse yet, straight into Staz's life. Having been an aficionado of human culture (particularly Japanese culture, I'm sure we can all relate to that) Staz is ecstatic to meet a human girl (a school girl!) from Japan. It's instant infatuation for Staz and in his haste to win her affection he dashes off to readily defeat the plant monster that is currently threatening the territory.

Only to return to his apartment to find that she's been eaten.

And so begins our wild foray into the Makai as Staz searches for a way to de-ghost the once human Fuyumi who just wants to go home.

The Characters

Staz.

Staz is a protagonist that you can get behind. He isn't your typical anything; he likes to do what he wants when he wants, has a wonderfully hilariously strange obsession with random things and is also psychotically powerful. He's a wonderful source of entertainment and humor and drives the story with his quest (single minded obsession really) to return Fuyumi to her human form.

Fuyumi

I really want to like Fuyumi, I really do. But Fuyumi has a problem I run across shounen all too often that makes me disappointed. She is the token Fanservice female character who also happens to be the heroine, if we can call her that. She exists (so far) solely for Staz to rescue, again and again and again. She's quiet, she's meek, she cooks, she cleans, she doesn't have any apparent interests or really does anything for herself. Even though this is really a story about her she doesn't have any active part in it. Instead she gets shunted across the Makai world as kidnap bait by various bad guys. It's an unfortunate thing I see all too often in manga, though not always.

Bell

Oddly enough every other female character is pretty well rounded, pro-active and interesting. Maybe the creator thought a damsel in distress would make a better heroine than a fully developed human being? Bell is sneaky, smart, funny and slightly sadistic. She is in possession of a rare magic that allows her to manipulate dimensions (or portals) and lives to torment Staz (like a elementary school kid who doesn't know how to confess their crush)

Wolf

Wolf is the werewolf to Staz's vampire. They kind of get along if by beating the crap out of each other means getting along. Wolf creates our third wheel of the love triangle between Staz, Fuyumi and himself. He's kind of like Ryouga to Ranma; not too smart but super tough and physically powerful. And a werewolf.

There are numerous and wonderful characters and side characters in Blood Lad; too many to properly introduce. Each one has their own theme (Staz's older vampire brother who not only looks the part of Vampire Lord but also doubles as Crazy Scientist) own desires and own quirky humorous trait. It's something that makes this manga worth reading.

The Plot

The manga is still in it's early stages although it's been around for a few years now. Slow update progress right now; currently there are only 36 chapters. Mostly the plot has revolved around firstly, Staz finding a way to return Fuyumi to her human self which mostly entails beating the crap out of powerful antagonists WHICH ALSO ties into secondly, Staz shedding his indifference to his own power and finding a reason to become stronger. Only currently in the story are we getting a larger scope of what's going on which is intrigue, surprise origins, and a plot that will change the Makai.

The Art

The unique style is one of the reasons why I decided to read Blood Lad; it IS very unusual but interesting. The design and style of the manga is clean, well proportioned and interesting.

It's almost painterly or like the author used pastels which gives it an almost creamy look. Very well done.

The Monsters

Sort of speaks for itself. The character designs are varied, complex and wonderful.

The Fanservice

Is prominent in this manga. Mostly centered around Fuyumi and putting her into as many perverted tits/ass poses/situations as possible. This is something that bugs me as a storyteller; to me this is a cheap click-bait option that manga authors use to drag in as many male readers as possible and they do so to the direct detriment of women. It's annoying. It's like saying unless there are titties involved no man in his right mind would read the story. It's insulting to everyone and one of the reasons I completely stopped reading Fairy Tail (which is a rant for another day).

Overall

My grade: A

This is one manga worth looking into. There are some hilarious moments with Staz and the wacky, crazy and mostly homicidal characters of the Makai world. It's easy to read, easy to get into and easy to lose yourself in the varied under plots and characters. Before you know it, you've gone through all short 36 chapters and are eagerly waiting for an update (which is rare; I've been reading this for nearly five years now). Slight ecchi warning; I would slap a Teen rating on this. There isn't anything too graphic to worry about for younger viewers. Can be found at MangaInn.com

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