And you thought your family gatherings could be rough.
Story/Art: Yuuki Kodoma
Translation/Adaptation: Melissa Tanaka
What They Say
Imprisoned in Liz’s Toy Box, Staz is surprised by a visit from his older brother, the very man he came to Demon World Acropolis to see. But Blaz hasn’t come to help Staz unlock the secrets of The Book of Human Resurrection. Instead, he’s come to release Staz’s true vampire powers, the same magic Blaz sealed away years ago by putting a bullet through his little brother’s heart.
Staz’s strength is needed to conquer a terrible threat that has appeared in the Demon World, and once again Staz finds himself a pawn in his brother’s game. Unless he confronts this terror, the secrets of his brother’s book will remain a mystery and Fuyumi will remain a ghost – if she doesn’t disappear entirely first!
Content: (please note that content portions of review may contain spoilers):
Staz’s trip to the Demon World Acropolis has been going about as badly as he seemed to think it would given his reluctance to have anything to do with the demon nobility…and things began their spiral from almost instantly as he found himself reunited with his younger sister who immediately had him thrown in a special prison she is in charge of. Things aren’t looking up either as he has the opportunity to escape from the prison by challenging a pair of zombie guards but his power isn’t enough for him to win, just enough to heal him so he can continue to get defeated over and over again and making it appear that his quest will meet an end here in an infinite loop.
Meanwhile things aren’t going any better for Wolf who is trying to save Fuyumi from disappearing now that the source of magic that had been keeping her from vanishing is absent and Wolf is finding that he has to rely on others for help as his skills aren’t related to healing. When Bell-chan appears he discovers that Doctor Franken had been holding out on him as to just how the Doctor’s skills might be up to saving Fuyumi but the Doc’s services comes with a price- in order to get the Franken to do his ply his trade Wolf is going to have to come face to face with the artificial demon Papradon that the decidedly less than good Doc had stitched together and which is now running loose and it looks like it has the power to destroy the entire Demon World.
Even as Wolf leaves to gain his hidden ace card in the hopes that it will let him beat this genuine monster Staz faces a horrible situation of his own as his elder brother Braz has learned of Staz’s presence under Liz’s care and has decided to appear in order to give his sibling a chance to be able not only to escape from the prison but to also be able to stop the monster now challenging the Demon World as Staz’s full powers can be returned to him. Surprisingly Staz isn’t terribly interested in the deal as seeking power isn’t really his thing and he has some serious reservations about having anything to do with his elder brother and Staz isn’t buying into the concerned act being shown as he is deeply cynical about what his elder sibling’s true motivations really are. Still when push comes to shove Staz probably isn’t going to have a choice in the matter in order to both keep his promise to Fuyumi and survive himself while also stopping this new threat to the Demon World. Will this reunion of the three siblings turn into one that becomes a heartwarming and uniting moment or is Staz right in his hesitation to have anything to do with his brother and it will turn more into the puppet master finally being reunited with all his dolls?
The first release of Blood Lad which contained the first two volumes of chapters in one package had me somewhat divided on things as there were aspects to the series that seemed to be interesting and somewhat fresh while some of the other aspects seemed like the material was trying to take some shortcuts when it came to building its characters and world. Luckily this second release helps alleviate some of these issues as the author decides to bring Staz’s brother into the series in a way that helps to justify the setting up that had been done previously as well as allows for Staz to display some character depth and gives him an antagonist to work off from. The biggest gain here is found through this teaming of siblings, including younger sister Liz, that helps to add a somewhat solid and relatable drama to the rather wild events and which also seemingly answers some questions while raising a whole lot more.
As the events unfold the reader gets to watch as the relationship that the three family members share helps to color both the events that the audience has been introduced to before but it also manages to give some hints to much of the current events as the open hostility Staz has gets a chance to be seen in a different light, first in interactions with his siblings and particularly Braz’s explanation of the past as the author has displays some cut away scenes that appear to try to provide a touch of perspective to them. The biggest winner here is the reader though as the introduction of Liz allows for the cast to react to a painfully shy character and one gets to watch as it is revealed that Liz is far more aware of what is going on then she appears at times as she hides behind her array of masks but that her world is tinged through her perceptions as it relates to the lack of attention she feels she doesn’t get from the brother she adores.
Of course with a large threat on hand and a sizable cast having been introduced revolving the combined volumes just around Staz wouldn’t be terribly fair and so the perilous situation is used to also show off Wolf as well in a situation that brings a great combination of fighting, humor and tribute as Blood Lad’s author isn’t shy at all in paying homage to Dragonball Z both in theme and story set up as well as all but completely spelled out references. Unlike DBZ though the readers are going to find that Staz isn’t a typical shonen manga character as his desires tend to be far less obsessed with strength, though he is put in a kind of typical position of having to be the big savior and achieve power that outclasses his friend/rival which does kind of leave a feeling that this full arc isn’t quite as unique as it could have been and which might cause some predictable reactions from Wolf in the future. With genuinely threatening opponent (if not more than a little borrowed from DBZ) as well as some hints as to some of the various schemes that some of the characters possess in secret a fantastic spice is added to the mix which makes the manga feel a bit exotic, even if some of the ingredients used to make it are of a rather common stock.
Blood Lad may have been a bit sluggish in rising from its coffin initially but now that it is up it is moving forward with a surprising speed and nimbleness that belies its relative youth as it demonstrates a flair often found in more mature works created by more seasoned authors. While there are still a few flaws to be found in pacing the author does a fantastic job of paying off some of the ideas set up in the previous chapters as the characters get a chance to breath and a few of them show off some of their depth that was a bit hidden in the previous volume. While a couple of characters still feel under developed from where they need to be to truly make this series sparkle, the improvements made with others gives hope that this situation may be resolved in shorter fashion than longer as the series seems to be finding a stride that other series take much longer to hit and seems to know how to add appeal to characters that appeared to have been overlooked at the start.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: B+
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: March 26th, 2013