Blood Lad – A Show Of (Too) Many Components

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Blood Lad is a show I was quite excited for before it aired for its premise, which had reminded me quite a bit of Disgaea, a common theme in recent seasons, with one such show per season. Here is the basic premise: Evil underworld boss is actually an Otaku that wants nothing more than to go to Japan, meets a human girl who dies and becomes a ghost, and he must now save her while hijinks ensue. There’s comedy, there’s action, there’s fan-service and supposedly there’ll be romance as well at some point.

Well, it wouldn’t surprise you to hear that there is action and comedy in such a show, but sadly for me, I didn’t find it all that funny. The show had fan-service, which means we’ve had busty girls showing us their wares and being cute in general. The issue of fan-service with this show is actually quite interesting – Fuyumi is set up as the love interest of Staz, but there is no real reason for him to fall for her aside from her being human, and a Japanese to boot – this is a classic example of falling for someone for what they are rather than who they are. This could be seen as a metaphor for how otaku view women/fan-service in general, which might be quite apt considering the show is about an otaku vampire who doesn’t even realize how much of a goner he is.

(This is a Things I Like post, it’s not a review, but more a discussion of the show and of ideas that have risen in my mind as I’ve watched it. There will be a fair amount of spoilers.)

Anyway, the relationship between Fuyumi, or her character itself, don’t really hold up water. She is as bland as they come, she speaks quietly and timidly, she never asserts herself, and she barely speaks or receives screen time at all, in fact, I doubt she gets during the course of the first season’s 10 episodes as many lines as Staz, the real main character, averages in one episode. And so, the quest to resurrect her has less to do with her personality, and more to do with what she is – a human, a human female. And more than that, the quest to save Fuyumi isn’t really about saving Fuyumi, but about Staz having reached a decision, made a promise, and his need to fulfill it. This isn’t about Fuyumi at all, it’s all about Staz. Even him “falling” for her is all about him, because he barely even spends time with her.

Fuyumi’s lack of personality is even embodied by her affliction – having been killed in the demon world, she now is a demon of the ghost variety, and as part of her existence she is fading – she is literally something no one can see, or pay attention to, and even during her trip back to the world of the living, she always stands in the background, never intruding. Of course, it also served to give the show some sense of urgency – not only must Staz rescue Fuyumi, but he must do so before she disappears completely.

The show’s basic plot is quite similar to Spirited Away’s, in the sense that they both resemble a children’s story – you need something, so you go and meet a friend, and then you go with that friend to a third person to give you what you need, and then to a fourth. Honestly though, it’s a good way to set up a pack of characters, slowly introducing more members into the cast, especially if you are going to travel with them a while, but still, the “plot” is hardly what one comes to this story for.

Bell is the other female of the show, and aside from often as not just being around to jiggle her breasts in front of us, she’s quite a cool character. The show is full of goofy and neat characters, but we don’t really spend much time with them, they either make non-funny jokes, are fighting, posturing, or doing nothing. The fights in the show are actually quite good, but it’s really not a show about the battles, so the battles are usually there to prove a point – Staz is weak, Staz will stand up, Staz is now powerful, Staz and Wolf are friends – and as soon as the show had made its point, the fight’s over. More shame that, since those sequences are actually quite good.

Conclusion: The show is just going in too many directions – had it gone for non-comedy comedy, or just filled with gags, it’d be one thing. But it goes for comedy, it goes for action sequences, it goes for romance (with the most boring of characters) and fan-service, and it just ends up not doing any of these things great. I award this show 6.1/10 Cool Fights. The last episode is considerably better, by the by, we have the parents of some characters give us real tension, real dramatic content, and a real emotional hook, especially Fuyumi’s father who is mostly talked about in this episode, rather than appear himself.

Another thing to consider if you watch this is that it only received 10 episodes, and it more or less caught up to the manga it’s based on. So why did it even receive an anime adaptation at this juncture? Well, the reason is that anime is often not really aimed at anime, and many shows are made without caring about the anime audience – they are a tool to drive more manga/light novel sales, and if you get the story to end on a cliff-hanger, all the better, to drive sales. This show is a shounen show, but it truly feels like it’s 3 shounen shows in one – had they cut out any of them, they could’ve given the remaining ones more focus, more time, and I think the show would’ve been the better for it.

Honestly, just giving the characters more personality, rather than quirks and mannerisms that wouldn’t look amiss on cardboard plaques would’ve been a good start – the show has a lot going for it, but it just can’t gel.

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