Sunday, February 7, 2016

Blood Alone, Omnibus Collection 1 (manga, vols. 1-3) by Masayuki Takano, translated by Nan Rymer

Blood Alone is a vampire manga that was licensed by Seven Seas.

Warning: my review includes a Bunny Drop spoiler, mentioned because I thought the two series were worth comparing.

I've opted not to include read-alikes or watch-alikes. If you'd like some, please check out my first review of this volume.


I reread this so that I could read the next volume in the series and have a fresher memory of what had already happened. I'm rereviewing it because 1) my reviewing style has changed since I first reviewed this back in 2011 and 2) I'm even less impressed with it now than I was back then.

Blood Alone is an odd mix of vampire, crime, and sweet slice-of-life manga. The main characters in the omnibus are Misaki and Kuroe. Misaki is a young vampire - I don't think her age was stated, but I've seen guesses that range anywhere from 10 to 12, which is kind of horrifying when you consider how much of this omnibus focuses on Misaki's crush on Kuroe. Kuroe is a young man (maybe in his mid-to-late 20s?) who used to hunt vampires after one kidnapped his sister and possibly turned her. Now, though, he spends most of his time taking care of Misaki, writing, and doing occasional work as a private investigator. He seems to do everything from finding missing pet cats to tracking down serial killers, and his eyes are magically immune to trickery.

Misaki and Kuroe are aided by Sainome, Higure, and several others. Sainome was the daughter of the doctor who took care of Kuroe's sister, and she has the ability to see the last few minutes of a deceased person's life when she touches them. She often encourages Misaki's crush on Kuroe, while also being attracted to him herself. Higure looks to be about the same age as Misaki, but he's actually a much older and more powerful vampire. He acts as a sort of vampire mentor for Misaki.

I'll start with the good. The artwork was nice, although a bit bland, and Takano did an excellent job of creating a softer, gentler mood during the slice-of-life/romantic chapters. I was also intrigued by the characters' histories and by the bits and pieces of information about the vampire world that Kuroe seemed to have mostly shielded Misaki from.

Now for the bad. This omnibus volume was incredibly boring. As I said in my first review, it was not encouraging that it took Takano three volumes to accomplish so little. Part of me wishes Takano had cut out most of the cutesie slice-of-life/romantic stuff and spent more time focusing on the darker drama involving Kuroe's past, his sister's disappearance, and the events that led to Misaki becoming a vampire and being made Kuroe's responsibility. However, I suspect this would just have drawn attention to Takano's inability to draw truly exciting and dynamic action scenes.

An enormous amount of time was spent on scenes and stories intended to make Misaki and Kuroe look like a cute, bumbling young couple. Misaki was the adorable little princess who couldn't cook, agonized over Valentine's Day chocolates for Kuroe, worried about him if he wasn't there when she woke up, and lovingly stored the dress she wore on her and Kuroe's first “date.” Kuroe was laid-back, oblivious (he was supposedly unaware that both Sainome and Misaki liked him), and devoted enough to Misaki that he'd apparently put his goal of finding his sister again on a back burner for her, if not abandoned it entirely.

I was more tolerant of this during my first reading of this omnibus volume. Now, though, I look at this and all I can see is just how much time (maybe two thirds of the volume?) Takano spent establishing Misaki and Kuroe as very nearly a romantic couple, one that readers were supposed to root for and that even Sainome was sort of supporting. Kuroe was supposedly oblivious, and yet I don't see how he could have missed what was going on, especially after Misaki did things like try to use her vampiric powers to get him to give her a kiss. I don't know if it's that I'm a few years older, but this aspect of the series was so much more off-putting this time around.

In my first review, I said something to the effect that this series wasn't Dance in the Vampire Bund level of ick, and I still mostly agree with that. Misaki wasn't sexualized the way Mina was (Higure, on the other hand...). Blood Alone's brand of ick has more in common with, say, something like Bunny Drop – a sweet slice-of-life series about a man who suddenly has to raise a little girl...a girl who, as she grows up, falls in love with him, and who he eventually marries despite his insistence that he has always seen her as his daughter (I know all of this from spoilers, and it's one of the primary reasons why I'll probably never read the manga, despite having enjoyed the anime).

I'll read the next couple volumes since they've come in on interlibrary loan, but rereading this has made me more confident about my decision to finally offload it. That, and I noticed that even Seven Seas abandoned this series, releasing only the first six volumes.

  • A 1-page glossary of vampire-related terminology used throughout the volume.
  • A page of translator's notes.
  • 4 pages of artwork that might have been cover art. Unfortunately, all of it is in black-and-white, so details are hard to make out.
  • 8 pages of introductory information (characters, premise) for Vampire Cheerleaders.
  • A 12-page preview of Gunslinger Girl.

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