By Yuuki Kodama. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Yen Press.
The second volume of Blood Lad improves on the first, and this has become a nice, solid series. The lead is different in an interesting way, the otaku humor is fit in better, we meet several new possibilities for antagonist, and the fighting and humor are top notch. There are still issues with the heroine, but I can’t have everything – and besides, this runs in Young Ace to begin with.
Let’s start with Fuyumi, actually, as we do get a bit of a hint that there’s more to her than previously thought. Her mother has passed away, and Braz indicates in his usual vague yet evil way that she has a connection with Bell. It would not particularly surprise me if she turned out to have some demon blood in her (related to Bell?), which could possibly lead to new plot possibilities and a cure for her current condition. That said, I doubt it will lead to a cure of being Miss Fanservice. The scenes where she is sucking on the phallic water bottle made my eyes roll back so far into my head I worried I’d have to see a doctor.
That said, I’ve seen much worse fanservice than this, and the rest of the title more than makes up for it, particularly our reluctant hero. Staz’s limiter is removed in this volume, making him even more powerful than before – dangerously powerful, everyone notes. And yet he’s not all that hot-blooded of a shonen hero. Oh sure, during a fight he’ll get fired up, but there’s a passivity and caginess to Staz that really makes him appeal to me. He’s not going to go charging headlong at an enemy – well, not unless there’s a good reason to. Or they have a DVD set.
We also see more development of Staz’s two siblings. Braz is handled better, and walks a nice fine line between being an evil mastermind and being a supportive brother. He’s likely both, so that shouldn’t be too much of an issue. As for Liz, every fear I had about what she’d be like after finishing the first volume turned out to be absolutely correct. That said, she’s cute and harmless, so I’ll just roll with it. The scenes of her bonding with Staz and Fuyumi over watching Laputa: Castle in the Sky is sweet and adorable.
Lastly, here’s a rarity for a shonen manga (yes, it runs in Young Ace, but there’s absolutely nothing in this that shouldn’t be in Shonen Ace too); it’s very well-paced. No subplot outwears its welcome, and even the fights seem to be exactly the right length. This could be simply as everyone is very clever here. Staz shows it the most, but there’s a genre awareness here that permeates into all the characters, allowing it to get away with things that a reader wouldn’t otherwise accept. Combine that with a great sense of humor, as well as a worldscape filled with vampires, werewolves and demons, and you have something that should be a can’t miss it over here.