Saturday, February 13, 2016

Blood Alone (manga, vol. 4) by Masayuki Takano, translated by Nan Rymer

Blood Alone is a vampire manga that was licensed by Seven Seas. I got volume 4 via interlibrary loan.

Review:

In this volume, Blood Alone morphs into an action and cleavage filled vampire manga. It begins with Misaki watching out for some random kid while Kuroe is off searching for the kid's mother. No explanation is given for this case, and the volume never returns to it, because it's primarily intended to lead to the volume's true focus, Kuroe and Misaki's past. Misaki complains about the kid's behavior, Kuroe jokingly says that Misaki used to be worse, and suddenly we have a flashback to several years in the past, when Misaki was still human and Kuroe was a vampire hunter.

I had thought Kuroe worked alone, but he actually had a well-endowed partner named Jessie, who provided maybe 80% of the volume's cleavage. Jessie was Misaki's caretaker when Misaki's father was away, so after Jessie was injured during a hunt she sent Kuroe to temporarily take care of Misaki. They had a rough start, but Kuroe soon won Misaki over. Unfortunately, Kuroe was at a point in his life when he was resistant to using the powers that the vampire who took his sister left him with, and his hesitation meant trouble for both him and Misaki.

I can't say that this volume had anything fresh and new, but it was definitely more interesting that most of the previous three volumes. I had been wanting to see how Misaki and Kuroe got to where they were in the present, and Takano delivered.

Although this volume was refreshingly free of the usual “Misaki loves Kuroe” stuff, it was easy to see how she ended up fixated on him. He was her knight in shining armor, there when she needed him, even if his issues resulted in her becoming a vampire (I'm assuming, since it hasn't happened yet). I just wish that, in the earlier volumes, Takano hadn't depicted that fixation as a sweet romance readers were supposed to root for.

The introduction of Jessie in this volume was a little confusing, because it seemed like she was important to both Misaki and Kuroe and yet she was never mentioned in the previous three volumes. The way Misaki acted, you'd think Jessie had never existed and that Kuroe had always been her caretaker while her father was away. Jessie was, like I said, the source of most of the volume's cleavage shots. She sometimes used her sex appeal to her advantage when dealing with men, but there were a few panels that were 100% reader titillation. That's really the only explanation for the scene with her talking to Kuroe on the phone while dressed in a nightie - I'm still not sure where it fit in the volume's timeline, since I had thought she was talking to the Scotland Yard guy at that time, dressed in an outfit that opened clear to her navel.

This volume also introduced Chloe, the magician who had been Kuroe's teacher. I was a little confused when she said that she and Kuroe had the same name, and then I remembered that this was originally in Japanese and that the pronunciation of their names would have been the same. Chloe was...not what I expected. When I flipped through the volume after first getting it via ILL, I assumed that she was both a vampire and Kuroe's enemy, what with her floor-length cloak and the hat that hid her eyes. And also her habit of mercilessly smacking Kuroe around. She was not amused by his resistance towards using his powers.

Story-wise, this was more like what I was hoping for when I first began the series – vampire politics, clashes between vampires and vampire hunters, and Misaki caught in the middle. It's too bad that it took this long for the series to start to become more interesting, and I'm not looking forward to the inevitable return of Misaki's romantic feelings for (or, more accurately, fixation on) Kuroe.

Extras:
  • A glossary of vampire-related terminology used in the series. I only just now noticed that it's in not-quite-alphabetical order. It bothers me that "Adevaraht Kurai" is listed after "Aruta" and not "Absorbire" and that "Sinacolda" is listed after "Straruda."
  • A 14-page preview of Amazing Agent Jennifer.
Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Dance in the Vampire Bund (manga) by Nozomu Tamaki; Dance in the Vampire Bund (anime TV series) - Those who'd like another story starring a physically young vampire and her beloved protector may want to check this out. Like I said, I've seen the anime but haven't read the manga it's based on. The story is better and more interesting than Blood Alone's story, but enjoying this series requires that one have a certain tolerance for the way Mina, the main vampire character, is presented. I've written about the anime, so you can take a look at my post for further details if you're interested. Keep in mind that I only saw the censored version of the anime.
  • Blood+ (anime TV series) - Like Blood Alone, this series stars a vampire (Chiropteran) and her protector. This is a more action-oriented series, but it's still kind of slow-paced compared to a lot of action series out there. The main character believes, at first, that she's an ordinary human girl, until her happy and relatively normal life is disrupted. In order to save everyone, including what's left of her family, she must remember who she used to be and how to fight.
  • Lament of the Lamb (manga) by Kei Toume - Another vampire series. I haven't read this, but it sounds like it's fairly reflective and, like Blood Alone, has a main character who is very emotionally dependent on someone, in this case his sister.

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