Blood Lad, vols. 1-4

BloodLad1Staz Charlie Blood is a vampire descended from a noble family. His heritage awards him great strength, which he has used to become a territory boss for the East Demon World. Regardless, none of these things particularly interest Staz; pop culture and video games from Japan are more his cup of tea—or would that be a cup of blood? When his underlings bring him Fuyumi, a human schoolgirl from Japan, Staz sees her as the ultimate addition to his collection of items from the Human World. Unfortunately, the minute Staz turns his back, Fuyumi is devoured by a demon plant and turned into a ghost. As Staz is only interested in living humans, he decides he will find a way to bring Fuyumi back to life and make her blood the very first he will taste.

Blood Lad includes many popular tropes of the shounen manga genre. Staz has a scheming aristocratic older brother, a friend and rival who happens to be a werewolf, and several battles involve characters who suddenly reveal hidden powers. However, the series shines in its many winks and nods to Otaku culture. A huge fanboy, Staz constantly references famous anime, manga, and other aspects of Japanese pop culture. He also shops at a clothing store that is suitably called Oni Qlo, “oni” being the Japanese word for “demon.” This isn’t to say that a newcomer to the manga world wouldn’t enjoy Blood Lad, but they would definitely be missing most of the fun.

The story unfolds slowly at first, but it begins to come together in the middle of the second book. Its focus expands from Staz and Fuyumi to include fun characters such as Wolf, Staz’s aforementioned rival; Liz, Staz’s younger sister; and Bell, a busty demon with teleportation magic. This is a good thing, as Fuyumi is a weak link in the cast. She complacently goes along with whatever Staz has planned, and she rarely raises a fuss when she is inconvenienced. It isn’t until the third book that we begin to see what makes her tick.

Blood Lad is rated for older teens and includes some seriously suggestive panels, as well as a bit of female nudity. Like Bell, Fuyumi has been graced with a very large bust, which is showcased often. There are some panty shots, and there is also one scene in which Fuyumi and Liz bathe together. While this type of fanservice necessitates a higher maturity level in its audience, it doesn’t detract from the story. There is also a fair amount of violence in the fight scenes, but nothing really jarring compared to similar manga.

Kadoma fills the space between chapters with cute little vignettes describing the lives of various characters outside the main story. The series’ character designs might not look terribly original, but this is in keeping with its self-awareness; it provides a sense of familiarity for fans of shounen manga while poking fun at the culture as a whole. When it comes down to it, Blood Lad is a lot of fun, and that should definitely count in its favor.

Blood Lad, vols. 1-4
by Yuuki Kodama
Vol. 1 ISBN: 9780316228954
Vol. 2 ISBN: 9780316228985
Vol. 3 ISBN: 9780316250924
Vol. 4 ISBN: 9780316369053
Yen Press, 2012-2014
Publisher Age Rating: Older Teen