In the form of a comedy from the underworld, Blood Lad was a well written concoction made up of all the ingredients needed to create an enjoyable seinen anime. With themes of supernatural action throughout, Blood Lad is another great example of how anime can turn the stereotypes of ‘scary’ demons and underworld creatures on their heads. Just like how Black Butler made demons sexy and Death Note made Shinigami lovable, Blood Lad made the creatures of the underworld downright relatable and sometimes, particularly in the case of our protagonist, quite pitiful.
The protagonist is Staz and despite being a complete and utter loser, he is hopelessly lovable from the moment we meet him, and he continues to hone this appeal all the way through. With his horrendously over-the-top otaku lifestyle, he’s undeniably familiar to many real life anime fans who sit and watch him. Well, besides the fact he’s a vampire. He boasts (literally) a large collection of anime related figurines and merchandise. Plus he has a manga collection that could rival any die-hard collector. However, despite being surrounded by all the things he loves, Staz suffers from the common characteristics of any person that seems to have everything they want, including power over pretty much the entire underworld. It’s almost like mafia wars, demon edition. Nevertheless Staz is arrogant, melancholy and bored of his current position.
That’s when we’re introduced to the random arrival of Fuyumi Yanagi; a human girl who just happens to stumble into the demon world one day. Of course she’s well equipped with a face beyond kawaii and a chest beyond large, and in the true okatu stereotype fashion, Staz is instantly infatuated and claims Fuyumi as his own. That is until she’s entirely devoured and killed by a rogue demon plant before returning as a ghost. Yep. 100% true. So what follows is a hilarious but rather endearing story of Staz attempting to fulfill his vow to bring Fuyumi back to her former self. It’s definitely a story with a bit of everything as Blood Lad does a great job of making sure there’s some form of key feature that everyone will enjoy.
The series teeters between two key genres; comedy and action. One of the most obvious points of appeal within Blood Lad is the sheer humour. But, thankfully, it isn’t the forced kind. The series evoked a natural flow of laughter without being too over-the-top or ‘try hard’ as I often see in the more light-hearted comedy series. The jokes and punchlines were timed perfectly throughout and did well overall to create a balance between comedy and action in the storyline. One of the tropes that anime has always taken on with the comedy theme is referencing. There’s something about seeing a line or reference from old or popular anime that make us fans go, ‘OOH! OOH! I KNOW WHERE THAT’S FROM. HOW AMUSING!’ Blood Lad used this to its pure advantage. From subtle comments to Staz literally attempting to conduct a ‘Kamehameha’, it was almost like a fun side quest to see how many references you could find.
All jokes aside (literally, sorry) there’s a lot more to this series than just gags. The plot is genuinely decent and for a short series, the pacing is pretty much flawless. With some anime it’s typical to see fighting scenes lasting episode after episode with no real progression, yet Blood Lad deals with fighting scenes in a way that quickly builds up tension and never leaves with an unsatisfactory result and this is consistent throughout. No episode felt like filler or a drag; there was clear consistency in both the themes and characters which made this easy to watch and really invest in. I suppose you could say it was a little lacking in twists and surprises, and was probably a little predictable in most cases, but it’s not something big enough to detract from the overall impact.
As far as animation and style goes, it’s another tick. The scenes were bright and playful, completely complimenting the theme of the anime. There was a comedic style of animation through characters facial expressions and exaggerated mood frames. There was also a very vast selection of landscapes within Blood Lad which I believe is worth mentioning. The scale of the journey that Staz and Fuyumi underwent was made far more expansive by the various locations visited. Each one being equally different. This carried over to the individuality of each and every character. All creative creatures were achieved with great detail which made it refreshing and interesting to meet the different personalities. It was also nice to see the dark atmosphere of the underworld retained through the characters appearances, despite the light nature all around.
As if I hadn’t already blabbed on and on with good points, overall Blood Lad clearly gets a big thumbs up. Between the endless laughs and surprisingly engaging battle scenes, it was a thoroughly enjoyable anime. For once I wasn’t put off by the typical kawaii-big-chested female! And that says something. Blood Lad stuck true to what the story was trying to present. Something light and funny with just enough focus to keep the plot worth watching. Everything from characters to scenery were used to the advantage of the series which stopped it from becoming boring or stale. For such a short series, it started well and managed to keep up a great standard throughout. Definitely worth a watch.
Blood Lad is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Anime Limited on 2 February.