Blood Lad began as a manga series by Yuuki Kodama being serialized in Young Ace, a monthly manga magazine. Since then, it’s been picked up by Yen Press in the US and has now became an anime series licensed stateside by Viz. I’ve been interested in this series for a while- the artistic style is unique, and I like the idea of a new, different take on vampires. Blood Lad seemed to promise all that. Was episode one as impressive as I was hoping?
Staz Blood is no ordinary vampire. For one, he won’t make the trip from his home in the Demon World to go hunt down humans and drain their blood. And why is that? Same as reason two for his being no ordinary bloodsucker: Staz is an otaku. He’s obsessed with the Human World’s entertainment, especially any that comes out of Japan.
So why, he asks the audience, would he want to feed off of the same creatures responsible for making such great anime, manga, and video games? It’s probably also worth mentioning that Staz is the leader of a particular territory in the Demon World, meaning that he controls a legion of demons and is responsible for the territory’s welfare.
It’s pretty obvious at this point that Staz is no Count Dracula- and he’s very proud of that fact. He’s his own person first, a vampire second. But that doesn’t stop him from dropping everything when he hears news that a human girl has somehow found her way to the Demon World. She has no idea how she’s gotten there and seems to be stranded. Staz orders his men to bring her to him immediately.
Not only is she cute, but the human girl is able to fill him in on what’s been going on with his favorite series. Staz is particularly excited to hear that there is more than one Final Fantasy. He’s in heaven (despite technically living in hell).
His time with the human girl is cut short though when another demon moves into Staz’s territory trying to take over the place. He goes to deal with the nuisance- only to come back to his apartment and find the human girl dead, devoured by one of the intruding demon’s plants.
But because this is the Demon World, the girl- named Fuyumi Yanagi- continues to exist as a ghost. It’s then that Staz promises to do everything in his power to bring her back to life. But these plans seem to be foreshadowed quickly enough when Fuyumi remembers how she got into the Demon World in the first place. There’s a gate that has mysteriously appeared between the two worlds, and Staz is now determined to follow Fuyumi back through it.
Blood Lad has a really entertaining visual style. Japanese text often appears and moves on-screen, bringing to mind manga panels- which really fits with Staz’s otaku nature. I also liked all of the references to different anime and manga scattered around Staz’s room.
Staz himself makes an interesting protagonist. He’s determined to live above and beyond his vampiric tendencies. When he feels bloodlust for Fuyumi (before the part where she was eaten by a plant and left with no blood to speak of), he rallies against it with everything he has. He’s funny too and is the central point of every joke. Watching him try to struggle with what to wear to meet Fuyumi and his using Dragonball Z as a reliable source of information on how to bring someone back from the dead were two highlights from this first episode.
What I didn’t really care for was the way Staz and Fuyumi interact with one another. Before Fuyumi dies, Staz is completely enchanted by her cuteness and can’t ask her enough questions about the Human World. Nothing wrong with that. This IS the first human girl he’s ever met, so I don’t blame him for being overwhelmed and curious. But Fuyumi barely gets to talk at all during their entire conversation. Then after she dies, Staz seems to suddenly find her incredibly annoying and dismisses just about everything she says or does.
I’m guessing this has something to do with the element of his bloodlust for her disappearing, but still. If this is going to be a relationship central to the plot, then I hope that Fuyumi becomes more interesting and is given the opportunity to actually speak and develop into something more than “that cute human girl,” and I really hope that Staz’s attitude towards her changes.
Between the otaku protagonist and the chivalrous plot point, I think Blood Lad is the sort of show that will definitely appeal to fans who really enjoy shounen series. There’s a lot of potential here for a funny and entertaining story- but my enjoyment of Blood Lad really depends on how the dynamic between Fuyumi and Staz develops. I’ll give this show one or two more episodes to see if it can really win me over.
The first episode of Blood Lad is available to watch over at Viz.
… and by the way, this was the commercial that came on when I was watching this episode.
I see what you did there Allstate.