iSugio

Blood Lad – Review

by Miguel Douglas

@isugoi

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Staz is the vampire boss of a section of the demon world, but he has little interest in human blood. He’s more infatuated with Japanese culture. When he learns that Yanagi Fuyumi, a Japanese teenage girl, accidentally wanders into the demon city, he jumps to the occasion. However, while Staz deals with an intruder on his turf, the oblivious Fuyumi is killed by a monster and becomes a wandering ghost. The disappointed Staz vows to her that he will find a way to bring Fuyumi back to life.

The mere concept of vampires within anime is a topic that is not entirely original to say the least. With the likes of Vampire Hunter D (1985), Hellsing (2001), Rosario Vampire (2008), Vampire Knight (2008), Shiki (2010), and many more titles already establishing the mythos of vampires within the anime universe, Blood Lad is not exactly breaking any new ground in terms of originality, but it does in regards to its creativity. It does this by twisting the vampire mythos to have the titular character of the series, Staz Charlie Blood, as a vampire who actually wants to help the young girl Fuyumi turn back into a human after she meets her untimely – and rather comical – demise. Based on the manga series by Yuuki Kodama, Blood Lad definitely spins the concept of vampires on its head, bringing about a humorous take on the horror-specific sub-genre as a whole.

While the premise of Staz being a vampire is one thing, the series plays with his comical stance as an “otaku” who just happens to have a significant affection towards human girls. This primarily stems from him never actually having met a human to begin with, so as one could imagine, his daily life as a vampire is put into complete chaos when he meets Fuyumi, changing his life forever. What Blood Lad does so well is that it never completely takes itself seriously, which is not often seen within other anime series ‘supposedly’ dealing within vampires. Staz is seen dumbfounded but utterly infatuated with Fuyumi when she stumbles into his own demon world, severely increasing his lust for both her blood as well as her simply being a human. While this lust is seemingly removed when Fuyumi loses her human form, we see Staz remain vigilant in helping her, granting him some sincerity as a character who you would not think would be so helpful. He initially wants to help her for his own selfish reasons at first, but he slowly develops a truly thoughtful and genuine relationship with Fuyumi that remains an entertaining element throughout the series.

Perhaps more noticeably, what works significantly well in the series’ favor is how it plays upon the tropes of the general otaku culture within Japan, with the writing providing some seriously funny bits as Staz integrates his own view on otaku culture through his interactions with characters both friend and foe. Whether it is his use of the famous Kamehameha” technique as seen in Dragonball Z – a move that ends in the most cleverly of ways here – to his favorable approach towards making serious life decisions based on stuff he read in manga, Staz is seemingly representative of the cross cultural – and in the series’ take, netherworldly-specific – immense influence that Japanese pop culture has. This presents most of the the series’ humorous moments as directed primarily towards viewers with knowledge of otaku culture, as some average viewers may not get the gist of most of them, but they are still easily understandable to those viewers with only a slight understanding of some of the more famous tidbits of otaku culture.

The series also has a variety of interesting characters. There are werewolves, Frankenstein-like creatures, crazy scientists, and even magical witches. They all expand the series from one initially starting out as one dealing solely with vampires, towards becoming one exploring the vast array of the supernatural. While the series is mostly focused on Staz, each character is enjoyable in their own right and provide the series with various humorous situations involving Staz’s quest to help Fuyumi. There is even family problems that come up for Staz as he learns about his past, which furthers both his depth as a character as well as underlining the stereotypical traits of what being a vampire truly entails.

Unfortunately, even though the series does a great job in delivering a funny and likable cast, there really is not too much time to flesh them out given the length of the series. This coincides with the narrative as well, which by the end of the series seems all too rushed and rather abruptly concluded. While there is still enough material to create another season of the show considering the manga, some viewers may not appreciate the ending being somewhat open ended in nature, creating an outcome for a series that could have easily worked out much better as a thirteen episode series if only provided the chance.

Blood Lad is a very lighthearted romp that is as funny as it is introspective of the vampire sub-genre within anime. Its presentation of the supernatural is not to be taken seriously for one bit, instead playing upon many of the stereotypical tropes that litter the vampire mythos as a whole. It focuses more so on friendship than any monsters, dueling, or fanservice – all elements that are within the series nonetheless. This was definitely surprising and refreshing to see, and one could see that the series would have been much better if given more episodes to elaborate upon its extensive narrative. Despite these issues though, Blood Lad succeeds in what it is supposed to do, which is to provide an amusing and introverted look into world of vampires and the supernatural at large.

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Author: Miguel Douglas

As an avid viewer of both Japanese animation and cinema for more than a decade now, Miguel is primarily concerned with establishing a critical look into both mediums as legitimate forms of artistic, cultural, and societal understanding. Never one to simply look at a film or series based solely on superficiality, Miguel has dedicated himself towards bringing awareness to Asian entertainment and its various facets.

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