Blood Lad, Vol. 9

By Yuuki Kodama. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialized in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Melissa Tanaka.

As you might have guessed by the fact that this volume is half the length of the previous ones, this is the final volume of Blood Lad. The word ‘Final’ on the cover might also clue you in. Fortunately, the main villain of the last several books is polished off fairly early on. I say fortunately because, as if the author had been listening to the whining in my reviews all along, the majority of this book is devoted to Fuyumi and the relationship she has with the others, and particularly with Staz. It doesn’t necessarily redeem her entirely as a character, but it fits very well thematically, and allows for an ending that is both bittersweet and sentimental.

We left off with Staz commandeering Fuyumi’s body in order to take out Grimm, adding more and more of the secondary characters as he went along, to the point where he visualized them as being on the main bridge of a battleship. I’d said last time that I was annoyed that while he was using Fuyumi’s body, Staz was still in charge and doing everything. It turns out that this is actually a fatal flaw, and starts to lead to his defeat. He can’t actually do all this himself, no matter how much he wants to protect everyone, or take on everyone’s troubles, or feel responsible. He is just one (very overpowered) vampire. Fortunately, she gets through to him and they defeat Grimm with the power of a massive FRIENDSHIP BEEEEEEAM! Unfortunately, the combination of this and the loss of a sense of self that it brings on forces everyone that was in the Fuyumi fusion to fall into a coma. Gradually most come out of it, but Fuyumi is the real issue, because her tendency to go with the flow has led to a lack of sense of self.

But Staz, frustrating as he can be, figures things out in time, and we get what seems to be a sweet, happy ending… except, of course, Fuyumi is still a ghost. Now, they can fix that… but it will in fact lead to the separation of teh happy couple. I will try not to spoil too much of what follows (I know, I know, what review blog are you reading?), but it manages to combine the sense of loss that comes of letting someone go in order for them to have a better life (or in this case, an actual life), and then turning it on its head and gaining the possibility of happiness in the future. It’s a bit of an ass pull, but I’m all for these when they lead to sweet things like this.

I wasn’t all too impressed with the premise of this series, when I first saw the solicit, and therefore I’m really pleased that it turned out to be so good. I had issues with it, but it was in turns amusing, thrilling, heartwarming, and a barrel of fun. It’s a good series to do a big reread on now that it’s finished. Go seek it out.

Blood Lad, Vol. 8

By Yuuki Kodama. Released in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, serialized in the magazine Young Ace. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Melissa Tanaka.

It’s been over a year since we last looked at the world of Blood Lad. Such is life when you’ve caught up to a series’ Japanese releases, even more so when Yen puts this out as an omnibus. But the manga has now finished in Japan, so we shouldn’t have quite as long to wait for the final volume. In the meantime, we get this new omnibus, which does exactly what I suspected it would, which is get taken up by a huge fight between the villain and everyone else, showing off all the minor and secondary characters to a decent degree, but putting the emphasis squarely where it’s been (more or less) since Day One: on the odd relationship between vampire leader Staz and busty newly dead ghost Fuyumi. It even gives Fuyumi something to do!… though that’s somewhat problematic as well.

If you look at my past reviews of Blood Lad, you’ll see that Fuyumi’s lack of character development has been a bit of a bugaboo for me. She’s improved, but still tends to be reactive rather than proactive. That doesn’t change here, much as I’d like it to. The solution to how to defeat the bad guy involves Staz fusing with Fuyumi’s body, effectively making her the action heroine, but since it’s really Staz in the driver’s seat, the effect is lost, no matter how often we hear ‘Super Fuyumi Kick!’. Her best moment in this volume may come in a ‘dreamscape’, as she yells at him for being tactless and not understanding her feelings while literally dressed up as a giant 50-foot bride. Fuyumi is ‘the love interest’, and sadly Blood Lad’s biggest lost opportunity.

Thankfully, we’ve got something that makes up for that: humor. A good deal of this volume is hilarious, especially towards the end. Much as I disliked the Staz/Fuyumi fusion as character development, as an homage to giant robots it’s wonderful, especially as more and more people end up getting added and Staz’s Fuyumi Gundam rapidly turns into a Fuyumi Yamato. And, let’s be honest, the sight of Fuyumi with Staz’s teeth and attitude is also highly amusing. It helps to distract a bit from the brutality of the villain, who I think we abandon all hope of ever turning back to the other villain he used to be here. He’s a good villain, but also a bit one-note. Still, he provides tension.

Blood Lad in the end works best if you view it as one of those summer action blockbusters you see in the theater. While you’re watching it you’re captivated by the cool fight scenes and great quips, but it tends to fall apart when you go home and think about the plot afterwards. So don’t think about it too hard. Just sit back and enjoy a manga written by an artist who is clearly enjoying the hell out of himself, and grin along with Staz as you pilot a giant robot version of the girl you like in order to defeat a madman.

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.