By Yuuki Kodama. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Yen Press.
I reviewed the last volume of Blood Lad in the Bookshelf Briefs, and I will admit that it’s hard to find new things to say about it at times. This is a very straightforward series, with even the plotting and counterplotting amongst the villains being of a very shonen nature, and it doesn’t really lend itself well to overanalysis. We continue to build up to the big battle between the villain and his minions and the Blacklisted, who are classic ‘misunderstood’ types. Braz keeps trying to figure out a way to destroy the villain without getting killed himself. And there’s more wacky harem antics with Bell and Fuyumi… ah, wait, I can talk about those.
Yes, Bell has wised up and realized that it’s not really Staz that she loves, but the Stax who is protecting Guyumi – i.e. the Staz who loves Fuyumi, though neither he or Fuyumi are quite there yet. Having realized this, she’s free to confess to him and accept his confused non-reaction, where he doesn’t realize what would make anyone fall for him at all. And Fuyumi, who has always tended to be the flattest of the characters (quiet you), gets a bit more depth and emotion here. She’s also unsure if her attraction to Staz is her need for his blood or genuine, and she’s also put off by the fact that he’s being nicer to her, as opposed to ‘being more interested in her skull’. Unfortunately, we don’t get any further here, but it’s nice to see the author trying to put some effort into her.
There’s also Burgundy, the minion of our villain Akim (or is he Akim? Does it really matter when your murderous villain is being gradually taken over by a different murderous villain?). She’s hanging out at Pati’s cabin in the woods, waiting for our heroes to be done with their training from hell (said training providing most of the comedy in this volumes, especially the end where Bell gets crushed by her own boulders). Once Staz and Wolf return, she goes into insane combat mode, but Pati refuses to believe that she’s irredeemable, to the point where he too turns into a monster and escapes with her. We,, of course, as the audience, are rooting for her as well – just because redeemed villains are a trope as old as the sky doesn’t mean they aren’t nice to see.
So it looks as if we’ll see a giant free-for-all next time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we wrap up in 2-3 more omnibuses. Blood Lad won’t win any manga awards anytime soon, but it’s always entertaining, and is starting to show a bit more effort in characterization. Oddly, the author’s efforts have mirrored the lead character, Staz, who has also been forced to take things more seriously and grow into greater power. I would prefer seeing him in the fight coming up rather than miniboss 1, 2, and 3, but can’t have everything.