Manga-ka: Ranmaru Kotone
Publisher: Dark Horse
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: March 2013
Synopsis: “Saya Kisaragi is a kindhearted, if somewhat clumsy, student who trains by day to perform standard religious duties at her father’s shrine – but she becomes an unstoppable, monster-slaying swordswoman by night! The saga that began in Blood: The Last Vampire and the Blood+ anime series continues here! Don’t miss the schoolyard foibles, weird creatures, and katana-swinging action in this new manga series by Ranmaru Kotone, based on the hit Blood-C anime and infused with CLAMP’s original concepts and characters!”
Blood-C is like the manga equivalent of lasagna – you can enjoy all the different ingredients, but it doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy the final product. And that’s kind of weird. This adaptation of the anime series, Blood-C, has a plot that’s easy to follow, cool fight sequences, a cute lead character and even some nice artwork. Unfortunately when all those things are put together, their result is a hollow read that is difficult to pinpoint the exact flaws of.
In reading about this series, there have been quite a few complaints about its lead character, Saya. As a re-imagining of the Blood franchise story, one can see why. This Saya is a sugary sweet teen who’s kind, clumsy and easily flustered. She’s a far cry from the dark, stoic and serious Saya we’re used to. Personally I liked this incarnation of her fine. While she’s a bit of an airhead most of the time, it makes for a good contrast to her serious nature when out killing demons. It makes her role as a monster slayer more a matter of responsibility than personal choice.
The story itself is simple enough. Saya is a teenage girl who spends her days helping her Father at their family shrine, going to school and spending time with friends. At night, she’s charged with the task of slaying monstrous demons out to consume and destroy. There is a little foreshadowing with some of her acquaintances, but this first volume is predominately an introduction chapter to a cast of later-to-be-relevant people and establishing Saya’s lifestyle.
I was impressed with Ranmaru Kotone’s artwork. It compliments CLAMP’s art design well and there are unmistakable similarities between their artwork and CLAMP’s. From faces and proportions, to the way physical comedy is drawn, reading Blood-C felt similar in many ways to CLAMP’s more recent works such as Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. It’s not quite as polished but it’s clear why they were chosen for the project.
So what then was this book’s problem? Honestly, it was boring. On one hand, the banality of the read helps set a particular tone for the everyday life that Saya lives much of the time. On the other hand, the darker scenarios don’t make up for this in a way that benefits it as a point of contrast. The book spends most time tagging along with Saya’s everyday happy life – school, friends, trips to a cute café – and then suddenly the bloody slaying of demons. All the individual pieces work okay, even the random cutesy side characters, but after reading it a couple times, I feel absolutely no connection to the cast or what’s going on.
Part of this is due to Saya herself. As I mentioned before, I do like her. I think she’s cute, and I think her personality makes for an interesting slayer. Still, the lack of caring she seems to have for how messed up her life actually is makes it really hard to feel it as a reader. She’s too go-with-the-flow, whether it’s going along with her destiny to wield a bloodied sword or her friend’s insistence on hanging out and being adorable somewhere. The world is moving all around her and Saya feels stagnant.
Blood-C was frustratingly for me. I really wanted to like it, and by all accounts while reading I thought I did. The plot has plenty of potential, and the artwork was far better than I expected of an anime adaptation, especially one working off CLAMP character designs. But in the end these weren’t enough to make it a satisfying read. Someday I may read volume two, to see if it manages to bring together the parts I liked to more interesting effect, but right now I feel little motivation to seek it out. It’s not a terrible manga by any stretch however, so I do hope others find Blood-C’s charms outweigh the dullness I experienced.
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Book purchased from Strange Adventures