This is review number two hundred and twenty seven. This anime is part of the Summer 2013 lineup. Yes, I’m moving to a brand new lineup. Despite my new busy schedule, I am still determined to watch every show in this lineup. TPAB is definitely far from giving up. My “to watch” list never runs out so I will definitely reach this goal of mine one way or another. The anime I’ll be reviewing is the first show that ended in this lineup. It’s Blood Lad. It’s a ten episode anime about a vampire and a girl that died because of a plant thingy that ate her. It’s an awesome show. A strong start in the Summer lineup for me.
Staz is a vampire and he is considered a boss of a part of Demon World. He thinks both titles are a bother though. He simply wants to stay in his room and enjoy all the things the human world gives him. He doesn’t like the stereotypical vampire so much that he has sworn not to even take blood from humans. He would rather collect figures, watch anime and play games in his room all day long. One day though, a human wandered into the demon world. Fuyumi Yanagi suddenly found herself being brought to the territory boss of East Demon World. Staz was unbelievably excited that he gets to meet a human but seeing Fuyumi stirs something inside of him. He plans to get closer to the girl to discover what he truly feels. When a series of events suddenly led to Fuyumi dying, Staz suddenly made an oath to resurrect her even if it means turning the demon world inside out.
Taking the Pants Off
Here’s an idea. How about a Shounen series for just ten episodes? Can it work? Will it even be worth the time? Well, that’s basically Blood Lad’s main idea. Take all the wonderful elements of a Shounen manga and then try to feature them all in ten episodes. I was doubtful. Most twelve episode anime leave a lot to be desired so imagine something shorter. It’s not going to be easy. The interesting thing about Blood Lad though is that I think it proves just how entertaining the Shounen genre is. Despite the short run, Blood Lad is something I truly want other people to watch. The idea of a ten episode Shounen anime actually has both its upside and downside but when you’re featuring a genre anyone can enjoy without any fuss then it’s going to be a fun ride all the way. Blood Lad has a wonderful concept, a familiar vibe and an easy to follow plot. It certainly has its weak points but it’s also an entertaining anime to watch through and through.
The premise of the anime is pretty simple. It’s about an awesome vampire named Staz beating up a lot of equally awesome characters in the demon world as he tries to find a way to resurrect this human girl he accidentally got killed. Like most Shounen anime though, the premise is just the base for the story. It gradually grows as the show progresses. As more characters are introduced, more subplots branch out from this main premise and more pieces for the overall story is established. I was really afraid when I tried this anime out because the Shounen genre expands and I was doubtful if the ten episode limit can contain the ever expanding story. The show got me hooked after the first episode though and if I had the free time, I would’ve finished this anime in a day. The premise is pretty engaging and the other elements really made the show fun to watch. For the purpose of this review though, I would like to point out three main plot points that make up the story.
The first plot point is obviously about Staz trying to resurrect Fuyumi. The poor girl that wandered into the demon world got killed by something Staz wasn’t able to foresee. It definitely happened unexpectedly and Staz now feels responsible for her death. Fuyumi turned into a ghost though and now became a full pledge citizen of the demon world. Staz promised though to make sure Fuyumi doesn’t stay a ghost for long and decided to find a way to bring her back to normal. When Staz promised something, he makes sure he gets it done. The idea of a really cool vampire making this oath in a really serious tone may have been the reason why I got drawn into the anime. This plot point is pretty straight forward. Staz meets a lot of people from the demon world as he tries to find clues related to resurrecting a human. In the span of ten episodes though, I think Staz might’ve wandered the entire demon world for his cause. For a simple story, the anime certainly had a lot of surprises in store for the audience. Staz’s journey would involve a lot of cool fighting and a lot of people that seems to be attracted to the little ghost girl as well. It’s trouble all around and to think it all started because a human girl got killed.
The second plot point is about this girl named Bell Hydra and her interest for Staz. You see, Fuyumi wandered into the demon world because of Bell’s special curtain that allow people to teleport from one area to another. This avid treasure hunter uses this spatial space power of hers to get things she really wants. Something went terribly wrong with her powers though and she cannot close this curtain she owns. Bell suspects that someone stole her power from hers but only some truly powerful could’ve done so. The motives and the mystery regarding the curtain being left open are all trivial for Bell though. All she wants is to track down the person that did all this and apparently, make him her husband. Bell eventually meets Staz and dangle information about resurrecting people in his face. Using Staz, Bell now plans to find the strong person that she is searching for. She is a bit mischievous though and she definitely plays dirty. Staz might be in more trouble than he is prepared for. Of course, Bell thinks Staz is special candidate number one for the person she is looking for. She’s not quite sure though and she is willing to put a lot of hurdles in front of Staz to make sure.
The first and second plot point really come hand in hand. They make up most of what the story is trying to present. The journey of Staz and Bell’s mischievous schemes basically make up the story of the show but it’s all wrapped up in this truly Shounen style anime that easily draws you in. The anime had this smart format of having the story progress while also making sure there is enough cool fight scenes to satisfy the Shounen fan in all of us. In fact, I think the Shounen elements actually fill the gap of the story which is smart because you’re never really concerned about the ten episode limit when you’re enjoying this scene where a vampire and a werewolf is beating each other silly. I also enjoyed the little mystery the anime presented. It’s not really much but the anime still had time to build up this angle of the person that actually stole Bell’s power. While the anime eventually expanded the story, it was still able to make enough hype for the second plot point that I find interesting.
As the anime progresses, the focus of the anime slowly shifted. It’s pretty much expected since a lot of important characters are being introduced with haste. It soon opens up a third plot point. This is simply about the Demon World itself. In the beginning of the anime, Staz is the territory boss of the East Demon World. In his journey, he bumps heads with the other bosses of the demon world. Towards the second half, we are introduced to the ultimate rulers of Demon World that reside in floating castles and in special realms they created themselves. The third plot point have very little to do with the first two plot points. This one is where the anime eventually wandered into. It’s about the powerful people of the demon world and their relation to the main characters. Certain characters related to Staz started appearing and they soon had their own subplots and it soon connected to the overall story of the anime where the premise is just a part of. Shounen anime is hard to describe. It’s funny because I rarely review them despite my 200 plus experience. Anyways, the third plot point soon focuses on the other characters and the overall state of the demon world. It’s hard to explain without spoiling much but let’s just say that a lot of strong people soon started showing up and they want to prove how strong they are. In typical Shounen fashion though, a rivalry would be hyped, some flashbacks are presented and an impeding showdown would be hinted. This simply makes up the third plot point.
I mentioned before though that this anime had both its up and downs. Rest assured that the positives are so strong that the negatives are barely felt but I am inclined to point them out. One of the anime’s biggest downside is the pacing. Simply put, it’s going too damn fast. There is no time to truly savor the story and the cool fights because the anime was going really fast. Story wise, it was still easy to follow and entertaining because you get a lot in one episode that you normally get in twenty normal plus sixteen filler episodes of a normal long running Shounen series. The anime trimmed it all down in just one strong dosed episode. The problem is that the scenes are easily forgettable. I was a bit irked that I wasn’t able to enjoy a really long fight scene involving Staz and his werewolf foe. I was bummed that this really frightening match against a Frankenstein had little to no hype and the fight’s pace was upsettingly predictable. The anime was so condensed that something really had to be butchered and the fight scenes were the one sacrificed. It’s a shame because the characters all had their awesome super moves, the show had slight jabs at the redundancy of Shounen fights it smartly slipped in, the show had time to include the relationship of the characters in the fight’s pace and had a lot of promising match ups to really fill you up with some good Shounen memories yet it was all told in just five f*cking minutes. How disappointing is that? The anime had all the fixings to create some really amazing fights yet it wasn’t planning on doing that.
The fast pacing also affected the natural flow of the show. Again, storywise, it’s really no problem. It’s easy to follow and fun to watch. Then you had to write a review of this anime and you realize that Staz trying to resurrect a girl turned into a rumble on the demon world that turned into a family affair involving some really strong demons that turned into a complicated three way of mixed up feelings. While you certainly had time to be entertained by the show, I’m pretty sure you’ll forget it after you watch your next anime. That’s really the problem with the limited time. There’s no time to make anything stand out and you’re left with an anime that had a forgettable content. Don’t get me wrong. Any other genre would have ample time to create something outstanding (Tatami Galaxy and AnoHana for example) but the huge overarching story of a Shounen anime doesn’t work for this limited time. You’ll get a lot of cool flashes and explosions but it won’t really mean much if it just happens in an instance.
The one thing that truly made this anime special though is the characters. There are a lot of them but they stand out despite the overcrowded scenario. Each character has their own unique quirkiness that really sets them apart whether they’re main or side characters. The main character is Staz. He is this laid back kind of guy that hates the stereotypical portrayal of vampires. He’s different. He would rather stay in his room and watch anime or play games. One of the wonderful things about Staz is that he might come off as this cool anti conformists but he would get easily excited seeing new things that came from the human world. He loves them that much. Like any Shounen hero, it’s not hard to cheer for Staz. He is awesome in every sense of the word and his devil may care attitude actually make certain moments interesting because you’ll never really know how he’ll react to the situation. When faced with overwhelming adversities, it’s his unpredictable cool nature that makes him really fun to watch.
The other main character is Fuyumi. She’s the sexual object of the show. She’s the timid kind of character that has a big heart and an ever bigger pair of racks. The anime really love objectifying her to the point where you really can’t complain because she is too damn hot not to be put in a cute sexy outfit. I actually miss these kinds of character. It’s because I don’t watch a lot of Shounen. Anyways, Fuyumi is typically the damsel in distress in the anime and she doesn’t really play a big role other than being the apple in Staz’s vampire eyes. The show never really let her grow as far as a character. She has big boobs and I think it ends there. Opposite her though is Bell. She is the mischievous girl that loves stringing trouble along for Staz. Bell has this certain charm of an unruly and untrustworthy girl that really draws you into her. Her energetic attitude also adds a lot to her colorful personality. I think it’s her ability to teleport with her spatial powers that makes her truly interesting though. In the first half of the anime, this girl is untouchable and she does get under your skin but it’s that kind of a strong personality that I really enjoy in a character. Bell Hydra is one well rounded character through and through.
The rest of the characters are as great as the main ones. Even though they had very little role or appeared a bit too short, they still left an impression on the show. From a talking animal with a third eye to a monster that steals other people’s body parts, there is no shortage of awesome characters in this show. It’s actually one of the reasons why the ten episode limit sucks because you don’t see a lot of these characters and you can tell that they have more to offer than what the anime did to them. I certainly see incredible potential in the characters that was just wasted in the show. There are a lot of them though. The idea of demon world monsters being characters actually has limitless possibilities and the show really did not disappoint on this aspect. Despite the large cast, when a character re-appears, they’re still as great as when you last saw them. From the good guys to the bad guys to the simple background characters, the anime never seem to run out of these interesting characters.
One important thing that I really love to point out is the lightheartedness of the show. There is this great balance in the anime where its action packed yet it can suddenly shift mood and become comedic. This was a great tool in the storytelling of the anime because it’s not a clean cut Shounen anime. Two characters would be bashing each other’s head in and you know the fight will just get ugly yet they would suddenly stop and take a tea break. That didn’t happen in the anime but it has the same random progression that truly does suck you in. I think this was the biggest positive aspect of the show. In the short run, you will never be bothered by its negative aspects because the anime has this great balance of action, comedy and a hint of drama at its disposal to guarantee an amazing anime experience. As much as the negatives were concerning, it clearly doesn’t mean much when you’re having so much fun watching the show. The fast pacing may be a bother but I am absolutely sure you will still eagerly wait for the next episode despite the fact. That’s how amazing this anime is.
I love this show. This marks a strong start in the Summer 2013 lineup for me. Brain Base hits this one out of the park. I’m still going to b*tch about the short run but I’ll be one of those hypocrite that enjoyed the show even though I’m b*tching. This studio is really consistent. A lot of powerhouse studios falter from time to time but I think Brain Base really stays consistent. They always release good anime and that’s one thing you can always count on from them. I haven’t seen a Brain Base anime I didn’t enjoy and that’s saying a lot considering how other studios (including KyoAni) have some disappointments in their lineup. I would love for another season of this anime but I sure wish they would settle for more than ten episodes because a show this awesome deserves more. If Polar Bear Café can get 50 then someone should convince Brain Base this show is more special than any Polar Bear in a f*cking waiter outfit.
Sight and Sound
Character design is one of the strong points of the anime. Yuki Kodama’s characters are all amazing. They have the typical Shounen appeal of being beautiful people but with overly exaggerated attires. I love the clean and proportioned faces of the characters and the way the eyes tell a lot just by staring into them. There isn’t anything complex in the designs though but the way the characters wear urban style clothing really made a lot of difference. The demon world is like a huge city setting and the citizens are all wearing loose clothes and colorful attires that look modern and urban and it really makes them very interesting. From printed t-shirts to hoodies and baggy jeans, it’s the way the characters dress themselves that really makes them complex despite the simple designs. Yuki Kodama has a wide range of character design though. Mixing modern attire with everyday monsters produces a lot of characters and he never seems to run out of new looks to present. It’s this kind of whimsy and darkness that really made the characters special. The anime did good on adapting the characters and I think Kenji Fujisaki’s time sexualizing Sengoku characters yielded a lot of great things in this anime. Kenji handled Battle Paradox and he also handled the character design for the show. He certainly knew how to adapt the whimsy and dark style that Yuki did to his characters.
The background design is also something I really enjoyed in the show. The bright color palette of the show and the different shades of misplaced colors in the scenes really look good that you can’t help but wide eyedly stare at them. The visual designs actually remind of the ones in Soul Eater. I even checked to see if it was the same director. There’s no relation. The visual designs are also something Yuki created and I’m glad the anime was able to present it as vividly as well. The demon world has a really vibrant appeal to it. It has some really colorful places and the visuals add more intrigue to it thanks to the bright color palette and shades of bright colors. The settings themselves are also pretty cool. From an urban jungle to a western setting to even a prison, the anime had a lot of interesting places that really scream Shounen. In fact, the short run took Staz to a lot of different places and I bet if there were more episodes then we could’ve enjoyed the awesome places a lot more. I personally wanted more time spent in the western setting but the anime was going too fast to enjoy the scenic route it was taking. I still admire the effort made to look the places attractive though even if the stay was short.
The animation is outstanding. Once again, it screams Shounen because of how awesome the fight scenes are. The movements are solid and the choreography of the fights is really exciting. The way the anime made every fight interactive was something I really enjoyed. There are a lot of details like destroyed buildings, dust in the air and debris flying while the characters exchange jabs. Animation wise, it was so precise that you can’t help but get drawn to it. It’s another reason why the short run sucks because most fight scenes last no more than five minutes or so. If it did, it would have more talking than fighting and that bums me out. It was still top notch animation though. Normal scenes are really outstanding because the frame rate is high and the movements are pretty precise. The show also made sure the quirkiness of the characters comes out at every possible scene and it really demands some strong animation that the show was able to meet.
The anime’s OP is “ViViD” by May’n. It’s a pretty decent song. It was energetic enough to truly capture the Shounen appeal of the show and that’s a great thing. I’m not really a fan of May’n though. It’s just me. I like her voice but songs are all pretty typical for me. They make for great anime theme songs though. The verse was pretty great but it was the chorus that really made the song special. The accompanying visuals add a lot as well. The OP sequence is pretty awesome. It introduced all the characters and summarized the anime in a cool montage without spoiling anything. There were also some mislead thrown in that I find funny. The OP really captured everything great about the anime and all the strong elements that make up the show.
The anime’s ED is “BLOODY HOLIC” by Yuuka Nanri. It’s another decent song. It’s as vibrant as the OP song but it had a slow pace. It had a mellow vibe but Yuuka’s voice really made the song special. The high notes she hits sounds pretty cool. Her style is just like May’n though and I’m not really fond of it. It’s a great song still though. The ED sequence is about this small subplot in the anime involving the characters. It had a romantic angle to it but I can’t really tell. It looks cool though.
7/10 “A strong Shounen anime despite the ten episode limit being an obvious bother.”
Blood Lad is a really great show. The Shounen elements are very much alive and punching its way out of every moment yet the comedy of the show also balances things out. It has this precise storytelling that I’m sure anyone can easily get into. If you enjoy Shounen anime with cool characters that beat each other up then you’ll love this show. If you ever thought someone should make more Soul Eater anime then you’ll definitely love this show. If you enjoy some brilliant comedy and smart randomness then this show is for you. I highly recommend it.