Vampires. Immortal foes of fiction that have cemented themselves in the minds of people the world over. Blood sucking beasts who rely on both charm and brutality to ensnare their human prey. At least…that’s what they’re usually like. Blood Lad, on the other hand, has some different ideas. In the mismatched realm that is the Demon World, characters of all shapes and sizes adhere to and defy the predefined rules of fiction at will.
Staz Charlie Blood is not your typical demon. Born of noble vampiric blood, he cast it all aside and lives as the undisputed leader of East Demon World. Although that serves as more of a nuisance in his life than a benefit, what with it interfering with his manga reading. In case you didn’t glean his true character from this statement, Staz is far from serious, despite his station. Were it up to him, he would resign and spend the days and nights catching up on everything Japanese pop culture since the dawn of time…or whenever pop culture started. But that wouldn’t exactly make for the most riveting series now would it? So instead we begin our jaunt into Demon World on the day that Staz’s life got flipped turned upside down, by a girl named Fuyumi.
After accidentally stumbling into the world of beasts, this hapless schoolgirl finds herself as the target of affection/bloodlust/regular lust of one Staz Charlie Blood. Once a certain unfortunate event prematurely ends her life, the enamoured Staz vows to return her to life and rid of her ghostly form. Why he wants to do this isn’t exactly clear. Is it because he cares for her? Is it because he wants to drink her blood? Who knows. Staz certainly doesn’t. Though this conflict of ideals is by far the most serious aspect of the series, it is hidden under a great deal of insanity and fun. It’s a pretty good analogy for the series as whole come to think of it.
With Staz’s passion being what it is, Blood Lad is rife with anime and manga references. There not even subtle…not that I think they were intended to be. If panning shots of Staz’s apartment, which are adorned with all manner of non-descript figures and family classics such as Dra-gunboll, aren’t enough for you, the vampire slacker himself throws out more than his fair share of references. Hell, during one of his more climactic moments he even mimics Goku, Edward Elric and Astro Boy, referred to by his original Japanese name; Atom. Of course, for the sake of legality, absolute disclosure regarding the sources of these references is kept technically secret. After all there’s no way that Kameha-ha is in any way based upon the signature move of a certain Saiyan…right?
When it comes to the actual violence contained within the series, a certain stylistic choice is made…sometimes. For the most part, specifically gory moments are presented as blood splatter on a black screen. This semi-censorship is most prevalent when one particular character is pixelised to avoid showing the extent of their damage. That being said, the series doesn’t have a particular aversion to violence and these moments are often played off for humour. Trust me, you’ll know when the action is being taken seriously. Once again, just another example of the series’ methodology of wrapping awesomeness under a layer of humour. As one might expect, this technique is not limited to the depiction of violence, with the entire series being a mix of badassery and ridiculousness. One moment you might find yourself witnessing a terrifying beast unleashing his full might onto the helpless who cower before them, and then the next you find yourself watching our so called “Hero” swan diving into a concrete pillar…and the series wouldn’t have it any other way.
Blood Lad is cool. It’s a simplistic description, but nonetheless apt. With a protagonist that draws inspiration from anime and manga, it’s no real surprise that Blood Lad invokes tropes from across the genre. I mean, it also does this because it is itself an anime series…I try not to think too hard about it, it’s kinda meta. That being said, Blood Lad certainly codifies itself as an unabashed origin story. It is for this reason that the series is both awesome and yet leaves you wanting. It’s not that the series ends in a way that leaves you with a sour taste, it just leaves you wanting to know what happens next. So it’s a positive kind of negative…for all the sense that makes.
Something that may help alleviate this want for more is the OVA episode included in the release. Beginning at literally the exact moment the series came to a close, this bonus episode serves as a nice little insight into the start of Staz and Fuyumi’s renewed adventure. Unlike most extra episodes that exist for the sake of humour, this one is actually one of the strongest additions to the Blood Lad anime. It is through the fight that takes place that we witness the kind of person that Staz is trying his damndest to be, as well as his most inventive and awesome use of his powers thus far. Seriously, I feel bad if there are fans of the series who haven’t seen it. Of course it’s ending once again leaves us before this tale is concluded. So some more episodes would be nice. So to reiterate; Blood Lad is awesome and I would very much like to see the series continued at some point in the future. Sooner would be preferable to later, but either is better than never.
In the Demon World, it’s good to be bad…find out if the same is true over at Hanabee