Anime Reporter returns once more to Demon world to review the fifth instalment of the Blood Lad manga series.
Needless to say, this being the fifth volume, anyone who is unfamiliar with the first four should a) check out our earlier review and b) definitely read the first four volumes.
When last we saw Staz and crew, they had had a stunning battle against the mysterious and versatile Akimu, with quite a few sinister developments going on behind the scenes courtesy of Staz’s brother, Braz. But… we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The most pressing matter of all; where is Fuyuri?
Last time, she was rather unceremoniously scooped up by a pale young man (and it wasn’t Staz). While Staz’s plan to learn the secret to resurrecting Fuyuri may be developing nicely, it isn’t going to be much use if she isn’t there to be resurrected. Naturally enough, the hunt is on, with a very pumped up Staz tearing neighbourhoods apart and knocking a few skulls to get some answers.
Though he might not have to look too far. We learn a lot about the enigmatic Bell in this volume, as well as just a couple of hints about her past and her relationship with Fuyuri’s captor. His search will take him to the complex labyrinths of the dimensional highway, which may well push his new abilities to new limits in the future.
Braz, as we saw at the end of volume four, is returning to the upper levels of Demon World for a little bit of a confrontation with the head honcho, who seems to be a relative of a fairly prominent supporting character. He does indeed end up in front of Father Wolf, and their words together could well come to shape the series for some time to come. Likewise, we’re treated to a little glimpse at Franken Stein’s ongoing pet-project and it all seems to be gearing up towards something pretty intriguing.
We’re also given a look at a new female character, Nyen, who seems to be fitting the role of yet another shadowy foe. Nyen follows what is starting to seem more and more like Yuuki Kodoma’s pattern for females and is busty, with a lot of near-nudity in her relatively brief appearances.
The action in this volume is pretty novel, and it’s one of the first times we get to see Staz using strategy rather than brute force as he’s forced to take on a foe that is clearly a few pay grades above him. Staz’s status as an otaku continues to be a great source of humour and even of character development. We begin to see Staz really define his behaviour and his relationships in terms of those he’s seen and read about in anime and manga. A lot of his moments of introspection are introduced with words along the lines of “Well, if I were a manga character…” and it’s an approach to storytelling which should reach out to long-time manga fans, making us feel at home with tropes and in-jokes. Not that this series will alienate new readers and fans. The jokes and uses of manga-references are well-balanced for both old and new otakus, making it approachable and enjoyable.
Blood Lad Volume 05 delivers another dose of enjoyable and original manga, setting the scene for big events to come without falling too heavily into melodrama or needless exposition. Volume Five is available from Yen Press on July 22nd 2014, which, as luck would have it, is today, so you should really think about picking up your copy!
Plot Development: 8.5
85% – “Fierce!”– Blood Lad delivers once more with the fifth volume in the series, executing its refreshing premise with humour and a lot of love for the manga genre. If you’re on the lookout for a new favourite manga series and you haven’t tried Blood Lad yet, then you really need to give it a go!