Blood Lad, Vol. 7

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.

Blood Lad, Vol. 5

By Yuuki Kodama. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Yen Press.

I said last time that it was the small character moments that were the best in Blood Lad, and that’s still true. But it can’t be denied, the main plot has become increasingly more readable even as it becomes more deadly. There’s an awful lot going on here, and if it seems to be the sort of thing that you always see happen in manga series like this one, well, there’s a reason for that. Blood Lad not only breaks the fourth wall, but sits around it and examines why it’s a wall at all, with the help of all the lampshades it’s hanging to shed light on the subject. (This tortured metaphor is brought to you by the letter R.)


At the end of the last volume, we saw the culmination of all of Braz’ clever schemes and manipulations, as he manages to resurrect his dead father to regain the kingdom. Naturally, everything goes completely per-shaped not twenty minutes in, because Braz is not the star of this manga, and therefore the world does not run according to his rules. This is brought home to him over and over again by Staz, who is the star, and discusses the virtues of things like just attacking without thinking in order to save everyone. Blood Lad may run in a seinen magazine, but at heart it’s all shonen.

This leads to the big event of the second half; having been forced to retreat from the big villain, Staz has a clever plan: read his vast collection of manga to find a way to defeat Akim. It’s the sort of twist that makes you groan, even in a manga this meta. But then Staz starts to explain his reasoning for this. Due to the way reincarnation works between the human and magic world, he thinks that manga published in the modern day might be subconscious memories of what actually occurred years ago in the demon world, involving powers and objects now lost. Therefore, it is vitally important to read that 86-volume series.

Actually, my favorite manga-related joke in this volume is everyone getting so worked up over shoujo love comedy Marmalade Boy… sorry, Lemonade Boy. (The covers look identical, so this is just “wait, I don’t write for Shueisha” at work here.) It could be argued that the romance is the weakest part of Blood Lad, mostly as Fuyumi still tends to be a bit of a drip. We’re helped here by focusing on Bell, who’s got it bad for Staz but suffers from the inability to express herself and a colossal case of poor timing, plus (as the reader knows) the fact that Staz loves Fuyumi but isn’t quite aware of it yet. There’s plenty of comedic moments, but her feelings aren’t belittled at all, which I appreciated.

We do still get the small character moments in this book – Liz’s reaction to Braz’s fate, and the followup to it, is wonderful – but there’s no denying that things are getting darker and more deadly. It looks like we’re headed for a major battle in the next volume, which is a shame as it will be a while – Vol. 11 came out in Japan this May, meaning we don’t even have enough for half a release yet. In the meantime, though, we have this volume. There are probably better manga series out there, but there are few series as compulsively readable as Blood Lad.

Blood Lad, Vol. 4

By Yuuki Kodama. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Yen Press.

In the new Blood Lad omnibus, a lot of big things happen. We finally see what’s going on with Braz and what he’s planning; Wolf meets up with his human mother (an ex-Yanki, to boot!) and is told he may have to be the hero that saves the demon world; Staz is captured by the authorities and later reunited with Braz, who gives himself up; and a major confrontation seems to be what Vol. 5 will be all about. Despite all this, it’s the small character moments of Blood Lad that are the best, the funniest, the most heartwarming, and keep me coming back for more.


Let’s take a look at Fuyumi. If nothing else, she continues to be the most problematic character in the series. Staz is trying to get her to be more of her own person, but this seems to have devolved into a basic shonen “I will protect you” stance that isn’t really helping. (Also, putting a rope around her and dragging her around is probably his low point. Naturally, Fuyumi points out how humiliating it is but doesn’t really object.) She does get a nice moment later on, where the cowboy outfit and accessories Staz bought her prove useful to getting her out of a perilous situation. But probably the most striking scene is seeing her addiction to Staz’s blood, and how this is shown to be VERY BAD for her and yet at the same time the most erotic scene in the entire volume. I suspect I’m reading too much into her each time, but what else am I supposed to do? Ogle the boobies? Let’s keep overanalyzing.

We meet up with a superhero team in this volume as well, who are shown on the cover. As with most superhero teams, they’re a collection of eccentric weirdos with bizarre powers that seem to bond together as a unit when the chips are down. And, as with Wolf and a number of other people, they’re pitted against Staz, who remains the “bad guy” even as he’s the hero. Can you be a good guy when the entire world views you differently? Later on, when Staz and Fuyumi are captured by the police, we see something similar. Staz is a vampire overlord with massive amounts of untapped power (so much it can apparently be used to resurrect the dead), and now is the best time to stop him, before he discovers that potential.

And then there’s the climax of the volume, which I will walk around and try not to spoil. It should be a very emotional, heartwarming moment, but it seems filled with a sort of impermanence, a sense that this isn’t going to last long. Braz seems to get this too – his open affection for Liz reads very much as a “I’m about to die and will never see you again” gesture (poor Liz, by the way – there’s some great in-text analysis of her character and how she’s starved for affection from her brother). In the end, I have a suspicion that the confrontation that is the cliffhanger to this volume will be dealt with swiftly and anticlimactically before long when we get to Volume 5.

Overall, this remains a great read. You breeze right through it, it’s filled with good humor, some creepy horror, and occasional character development. Plus the obligatory fanservice. It’s everything you could want in a shonen manga (well, except it’s seinen, running in Young Ace… shh, don’t talk to me about demographics).