Blood Lad Book 1

What could have been an amusing comedy commentary on fandom becomes just another shonen manga.

The Blood Lad of the title is a teenage-looking vampire who runs a domain in the demon world, but he’s really fascinated with Japanese popular culture, especially video games. When a human girl appears in his kingdom, he quickly runs through lust, bloodlust, and love before settling on trying to get her back home as a way of visiting the human world.

I thought this premise was funny and unusual, but it’s quickly set aside for family angst (the vampire kid’s older brother abused him!), stupid showdowns (another demon lord is a wolf boy and has some random artifact they decide they need, so there’s a boxing match with superpowers), and fan service as the very big-busted girl winds up in too little clothing or naked. It’s the kind of story where any problem is almost immediately solved by introducing a new character or object. The boss can’t leave? Hey, here’s a doppleganger who can imitate him and take his place. People asking inappropriate questions? Vampire spit (in a spray bottle) allows mind control.

I wanted to see more of the spoiled, bored, geeky vampire guy, not the one with secret powers and family battle history. At first, this looked like an “opposites attract” story where the two could learn from each other, until the girl became just another object for various characters to fight over. Also, I know this is two books’ worth of material, but for a forgettable read, almost $20 seems too much. The psychic animal with three eyes that hangs out at the diner was cute, though. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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