Man! How long has it been since I did a good, old, written review? Too long, I say! However, don’t worry. I plan to make these a little bit more frequent so, stay tuned!
There are those out there who will tell you that the days of Bram Stoker’s Dracula were when vampires were at the pinnacle of their power in literary fiction and that Ann Rice and Stephanie Meyer have slowly destroyed this once noble and terrifying fictional creature. The people who say this are dumb. Maybe it’s just me but, I never found vampires to be that scary of a concept. The idea of a guy who needs to avoid direct sunlight and drinks the blood of virgins kind of loses its edge when you realize that under all that, they’re just another person like you and it’s kind of hard to be really scared of something you can relate to on some level. If I have to sit through any type of vampire related media, whether it be a movie, book, anime or, tv show I’d prefer if things were put into a lighter, kind of goofy mood because you’re not gonna scare me with any of this “European noble skulks in the shadows, ready to pounce on unsuspecting young lass” stuff so, don’t even try. I’d rather have a vampire that’s a slacker in his early twenties who spends all day watching anime and playing video games, much like myself, which is exactly what I got with Blood Lad.
What I love most about Blood Lad is how our vampire protagonist is so against the standard cliches of vampire fiction that the story opens with a monologue by him debunking most of those standard tropes. Our protagonist is of course Staz C. Blood, feudal lord of the eastern slums of the Demon World and hardcore fanatic when it comes to Japanese pop culture. As stated previously, Staz spends most of his days playing video games or watching anime in an empty apartment building which he also uses as a warehouse to store the collections of anime dvds, video games and, general Japanese paraphernalia he’s had imported using the tithes he receives from those he rules over.
If you know anything about anime fandom outside of Japan, you can imagine our protagonist’s surprise when he learns that a Japanese high school girl has mysteriously appeared in town. Upon meeting this girl he decides that he’s fallen madly in love with her and will do anything for her… Until she’s eaten by a demonic plant and turns into a ghost. Staz then sets of on an adventure to find some method to revive her physical body because what’s the point if she’s not a human Japanese girl? This results in a series of misadventures involving other high ranking demons including but, not limited to, a werewolf that Staz has a very “ shonen fighting manga relationship” with, a master of teleportation magic and, Staz’s older brother, who seems far more in touch with his vampire roots.
The more I read Blood Lad, the more I feel that Staz is meant to be some kind of commentary on western anime fandom. Vampires, in and of themselves, are a very european concept and any references Staz makes towards anime and games are those that would be easily recognizable to your typical anime fan outside of Japan, such as a mention of the Final Fantasy series or, a nod to Dragonball Z during a fight with a genetically engineered super demon, the latter of which I found especially hilarious. Couple that with relative ignorance of the human world and Japanese culture, his obsession with this high school girl and, his subsequent loss of attraction to her when she becomes just another ghost and therefore, less exotic really makes me have to look at this manga with the thought “Is this meant to be a joke on me, Yuuki Kodama?” swimming in the back of my head.
Paranoia aside, Blood Lad also managed to win me over with its cast of characters. Nearly every side character in this story could easily work as the subject of their own spinoff gag manga from Staz’s second in command, Deku, to the triclops girl who runs Staz’s favorite cafe, all of these minor characters look as if they have an abundance of stories to tell that you’re missing out on since the story mainly seems to focus on Staz performing fetch quests for other demons RPG style in order to revive his “love interest”. Blood Lad is funny, original and , well thought out, which are not three things I usually say when describing a manga, especially a manga about vampires. If you’re tired of adolescent vampire romance fiction, Blood Lad does an excellent job of lampooning this sub-genre while at the same time telling a story all its own. Now, if only there was a manga that effectively mocked the conventions of Ken Akamatsu’s livelihood, the harem love story, I would be very happy.