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Bloody Brat Vol. #02 Manga Review

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Bloody Brat Volume 2 CoverAnother trip to a world where the characters from the already often irreverent Blood Lad get to rally go wild.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Kanata Yoshino
Original Series: Yuuki Kodoma
Translation/Adaptation: Melissa Tanaka

What They Say
The cast of Blood Lad returns in the second collection of short stories and four-panel comics from Kanata Yoshino! Tour Demon World’s unique array of cuisine, fashion, and magical mayhem with Staz and the crew!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The cast from Blood Lad continues to go off into even more bizarre directions and tangents than even the somewhat permissive main series allows for in this spin off as some of the moments from the original story get new twists added to them as the author of this side journey explores some of the roads that weren’t taken the first time around by the source material. Quite a few of these moments involve 4 panel gags that can serve to either play off events as mentioned in the previous sentence or perhaps allow for the author to indulge in some moments of frivolity with the cast by playing with just how wild the characters could get if they wanted in this almost anything goes environment that the rules of Demon World allow for.

Some of the longer bits are a little easier to develop a feel for as they run for a few pages that allow for a bit of a buildup- the cast hunting for the mythical Tsuchinoko, Bell sneaking into her mother’s room to find a magical treasure or the difficulties that come with being Captain Goyle and how life seems set up to challenge his attempts to have some sense of order in a world that is utter chaos- are presented in a longer format to explore in this volume as the author apparently feels that a little longer form comedy is needed for these stories. It feels like a bit of personal irony actually that many of these longer stories have the space to set up a more complicated or layered joke or the pieces of this volume that I least enjoyed as they felt like a long comedy sketch in a short comedy program and the length from set up to delivery felt to be not worth the journey for me related to what the shorter pieces managed to deliver more often.

This is especially the case for me with the first story as it kind of falls flat throughout the presentation to me but even the other two longer tales, while being more enjoyable, seemingly lack the payoff punch that some of the shorter bits have with their ‘jump on stage, do their act in four panels and then jump off stage’ approach. I don’t know what it is exactly that causes these longer pieces to feel underwhelming for me, I just know that they felt like let downs from the shorter jabs and like they were dragging things out for minimal gain which is odd as I seem to recall being in the opposite camp with the previous volume.

Perhaps my enjoyment of the shorter bits is because many of them come off almost like a collection of possible alternate cuts for some events that can draw a laugh both on their own but also which gain resonance from having read the original context for background. The makeup of these is particularly difficult to explain in a review format given that many of the event-to-payoff gags are done so quickly that they don’t lend to detailed description very well. There also doesn’t appear to be much in the way to rhyme or reason apparent as to why the author decided to make a joke off one particular set up (or multiple jokes off a single setup from the original manga at times) as opposed to choosing a different event which is challenging to me as a reader as well as it relies heavily on my ability to buy into the freewheeling style to be able to really enjoy this bits while also recalling incidents from the original manga that are being spoofed to make the some of the jokes really work. Frankly I wonder if this capriciousness is why I had problems enjoying the first volume though it doesn’t quite explain the disconnect I felt with the longer stories that rely on knowledge of the characters rather than a specific event from the main series.

Perhaps it is familiarity with the characters as they go about events in the main series- or maybe it is a result of recently reading a volume of the main manga series that left me underwhelmed- but the shorts here had me smiling much more often, and even laughing from time to time, than I thought I would given the previous volume of this series. Perhaps it is just a case where I connected with this material better or perhaps it is the author tuning in on some of the eccentricities that are exploitable with the cast after working some of the first volume kinks out that worked to create this effect but regardless of ‘how’, the result is a book I enjoyed much more.

I don’t claim that all these jokes are somehow super highbrow humor either- in this volume we get bits that play off the amazing ability manga characters have for concentrating and knowing their surroundings (which may be meta when other manga characters comment on them), food obsessions, characters playing with glasses, and more than a few joke about anime along the way that aren’t all some unbeaten path for either manga or anime characters to play with as some of it has been done before elsewhere-in theme if not exact jokes-but which feels fresh here.
In any event while there are parts of the book that I felt detached from in terms of enjoyment there was more here that left me enjoying the trip to this side-step universe of events and characters from Blood Lad and it really feels like a book that is worth a look from fans of the original- though if you aren’t already there I feel safe in saying this book will be confusing at best as it does assume a working knowledge of the characters and some of the events being spoofed to provide the context rather than the material here doing so itself.

In Summary
Bloody Brat volume 2 returns the reader to the its own unique little space that plays off events and characters from the manga series Blood Lad while allowing this title’s author to go places that the original series couldn’t, either because the attempts would destroy any sense of flow in that series or because at times this series can present alternate takes on the same events without worrying that doing so would blow any serious narrative attempt out of the water. While I didn’t completely love the first volume of this series I do find there is more here that I connected with and enjoyed. While I don’t love even this volume enough to claim it is the best four panel comic series on the market today I did enjoy it enough to say that fans of Blood Lad will probably enjoy giving this a try even if the first volume didn’t quite connect with them.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: October 28th, 2014

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