Blood Alone, Vols. 1-3

In his essay Moe: The Cult of the Child, Jason Thompson argues that one of the most pernicious aspects of moe is the way in which the father-daughter relationship is sentimentalized. “Moe is a fantasy of girlhood seen through chauvinistic male eyes,” he explains, “in which adorable girls do adorable things while living in questionable situations with adult men.” The idealized “daughters” found in Kanna, Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase, and Yotsuba&! adore their “fathers” in an uncritical fashion, showering them with affection and trying — often unsuccessfully — to play the role of wife and mother, in the process endearing themselves to both the hero and the reader with their burnt meals, singed shirts, and sincere desire to please.

Blood Alone provides an instructive example of this phenomenon. The story focuses on Misaki, a young female vampire whose appearance and mental age peg her as an eleven- or twelve-year-old girl. Misaki lives with Kuroe, a twenty-something man who’s been appointed as her guardian — though in Yotsuba-eqsue fashion, the circumstances surrounding their arrangement remain hazy in the early volumes of the manga. When we first meet Kuroe, he seems as easygoing as Yotsuba’s “dad,” a genial, slightly bumbling man who supports himself by writing novels and moonlighting as a private detective. And if that isn’t awww-inducing enough, Kuroe’s first gig is to locate a missing pet, a job that Misaki takes upon herself to complete when Kuroe bumps up against a publisher’s deadline.

As soon as Misaki’s cat-hunting mission goes awry, however, we see another side of Kuroe: he’s handy with his fists, quickly dispatching a rogue vampire who threatens Misaki’s safety. Small wonder, then, that Misaki has a crush on her guardian; not only is he the kind of sensitive guy who writes books and rescues kitties, he’s also the kind of guy who goes to extreme lengths to protect his family.

If that were the extent of their relationship, Blood Alone would provide enough heart-tugging moments to appeal to moe enthusiasts without offending other readers’ sensibilities, but Masayuki Takano plays up the romantic angle to an uncomfortable degree. The most unsettling gambit, by far, is Kuroe and Misaki’s penchant for sleeping in the same bed together. That a grown man would even entertain such behavior is disturbing enough, but what makes it particularly egregious is that Kuroe rationalizes this arrangement because Misaki is afraid of “ghosts and monsters.” I think we’re supposed to find this endearing — a vampire who’s afraid of the dark! — but it serves to infantilize Misaki even more than her little-girl dresses, terrible cooking, and fierce jealousy of Sainome, the one adult woman in Kuroe’s life. If we only saw things from Misaki’s point of view, one could make a solid argument that Masayuki Takanao is deliberately showing us things through a distorted lens, but Takano’s narrative technique simply isn’t that sophisticated; Kuroe’s behavior — his solicitousness, his guilt — suggests that Misaki’s understanding of their relationship isn’t as far off the mark as an adult reader might hope.

This kind of confusion extends to other aspects of the manga as well. About one-third of the stories fall into the category of supernatural suspense. The dialogue favors information dump over organic revelation of fact, while the plot frequently hinges on characters suddenly disclosing a convenient power or revealing their vampire connections. Yet these chapters are more effective than the slice-of-life scenes, blending elements of urban fantasy, police procedural, and Gothic horror into atmospheric stories about vampires who use the anonymity of cities to hide among — and prey on — the living.

The rest of the series, however, is jarringly at odds with the suspenseful mood of these stories; we’re treated to numerous chapters in which very little happens, save a Valentine’s Day exchange of chocolates or a jealous spat. As a result, the series feels aimless; whatever overarching storyline may bind the supernatural element to the domestic is too deeply buried to give the series a sense of narrative urgency.

Art-wise, Blood Alone boasts attractive, cleanly executed character designs and settings, but stiff, unpersuasive action scenes. Backgrounds disappear when fists fly, and the bodies look like awkwardly posed mannequins, their legs and arms held away from the torso at unnatural angles.

The most distinctive element of the artwork is Takano’s willingness to abandon grids altogether, creating fluid, full-page sequences in which the characters’ faces play a similar role to panel boundaries and shapes in directing the eye across the page. In this spread, for example, Sainome gently teases Misaki about her relationship with Kuroe:

The undulating lines and overlapping images give these pages a pleasing, sensual quality, but what’s most striking is the way in which the strongest lines on the page point to Misaki’s eyes and mouth, showing us how difficult it is for Misaki to conceal her feelings for Kuroe. The wordless sequence below — in which Misaki waits for Kuroe to join her on a date — works in a similar fashion, using the direction of Misaki’s gaze to lead us through the proper sequence of events:

Though these two scenes are gracefully executed, they point to the biggest problem with Blood Alone: Misaki and Kuroe aren’t portrayed as ward and guardian, or brother and sister, but as star-crossed lovers whose age and circumstance make it impossible for them to fully express their true feelings for one another. Some readers may find their unconsummated romance heartwarming, the story of a love that can never be, but for other readers, Misaki and Kuroe’s relationship will be a deal-breaker, a sentimental and uncritical portrayal of an inappropriate relationship between a young vampire and her adult protector.

Review copy provided by Seven Seas.


45 thoughts on “Blood Alone, Vols. 1-3”

  1. Aaron says:

    I liked this sereis and I did’nt really find anything wrong with the main relationship between Misaki and Kuroe. As far as the whole Moe point goes. Moe to a large extent has become a Rorschach blot test term meaning as many diffrent (some times cotrodictry) things to diffrent people. I also take issue with Jason Thompson’s represintaiton of Moe (but that’ neither here nore their.)

    But than again maybe it’s the fact that I’ve had to constantlly explain for the hunderith time no Moe is not “plausable dinaiability Lolicon” on various forums. But overall I just found BLood LAone too be surpiseinglly sweet like a darker version of Oh My Goddess but that’s me.

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      Misaki is about 11 or 12, and Kuroe is in his mid-to-late twenties. If they had a similar relationship in real life, Child Protective Services would be called to remove Misaki from his care. That’s why I find their relationship disturbing and not cute. Their relationship isn’t problematized in a way that would make it interesting, either; in Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice explored the complexity of what happens when a child-vampire ages and doesn’t romanticize Claudia’s predicament.

      1. Aaron says:

        @ Kate True enoguh but than again this was serialized in Dengeki Daioh their kind of knwon for thais kind of stuff (Gunslinger Girl, Kana, Strawberry Marshmallow), Also maybe I’m just not seeing it as your’e seeing it I just dont really find anything objectional. I mean sure Misaki has some sort of crush on Kuroe but even after re reading it for a second time I just dont see what you’re talking about in their relationship but that’s just how I see things.

        Also their are far worse and more explotive and objectional titles than this that have been liscinsed Dance in The Vampire Bund for example and let’s not forget that Seven Seas almost relased Kodomo no Jikan over here.

  2. CJ says:

    I’m in the “I didn’t like it crowd” here. Nothing wrong with the art and I actually quite like how the black vs white of the page borders is used for night and day, not flashbacks vs reality.

    But the chapters with suspense I rather enjoyed, shame most of it was just watching Misaki acting like a 12 year old who can’t go out during the day. I felt like there was potential here, but it spent way too much time doing other things that I found rather pointless, it seemed a bit schizophrenic, do you want a vampire mystery or moe with a vampire? In this case, I don’t think you can have both, the author just didn’t make them mesh for me.

    Also, I saw Interview With The Vampire movie last semester with my friends at our movie night, we all really enjoyed it, maybe come to think of it that was to some degree the relationship I was expecting here (except without Kuroe being a vampire, obviously). Actually, I found Kuroe to be fine if not pretty cool, but Misaki rather annoyed me. Maybe I’ve just seen too many awesome vampire relationship movies (I’ve seen Let The Right One In too, if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it, go with the original Swedish version with subs).

    But seriously, this thing had 3 volumes to impress me and it failed to do so, I actually flat out returned the book, something I rarely do (it doesn’t look like I read it or anything, I’m very careful 😛 )

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      I’m glad you mentioned Let the Right One In, because that movie was so utterly unsentimental about the vampire’s relationship with her human host. (Talk about creepy! I didn’t sleep for a couple of nights after watching it. I’ve stayed away from the American version, but I’m definitely curious to see how it compares. But I digress…)

      I think you’re right about the moe elements in Blood Alone; every time I thought the author was finally going to get the story started, there’d be another chapter focusing on the most mundane aspects of Kuroe and Misaki’s relationship. In moderation, these scenes might have been less frustrating, but they really prevent the series from building any narrative momentum.

  3. Logan says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your assessment of the series plot as aimless. The way it oscillates between tense and serious vampire hunting sequences and cutesy, slice-of-life moments is completely jarring. It could have worked if it felt like either (or preferably both) of these were contributing to some overarching plot thread, but 3 volumes in and I still don’t see anything larger driving this series forward, or anything in the way of plot development for Kuroe or Misaki.

    And therein lies my second major problem, the guardian-child relationship of Kuroe and Misaki is tinged with creepy undertones with absolutely no payoff. As you mentioned there’s no dealing with the consequences of the unnatural relationship these two have, but there’s also no depth and complexity. Kuroe and Misaki share cookie-cutter romantic moments with absolutely no deviation from the norm. And any ‘sweet’ guardian-child moments between Kuroe and Misaki are tainted by our knowledge that Kuroe unabashedly indulges Misaki in her fantasies of romance with him, completely in denial of his similar feelings (or the wrongness of those feelings).

    I also felt like Kuroe and Misaki were bland, one-note protagonists. In my eyes the entire supporting cast was more interesting than either of those two, which is why it’s too bad that in the first three volumes only Sainome got a bit of development, and even then, I don’t feel like it contributed anything lasting to her. Her plot development chapter was more in service of injecting jealousy and conflict into Kuroe and Misaki’s romantic relationship than it was actually fleshing out Sainome’s character.

    On the art side of things, I’m so glad you mentioned the pages with blended scenes instead of panels. This was probably my favorite aspect of the series and I thought these sequences perfectly suited the mood of the moments they were used. I share similar critiques of the art as well, but I’d add that I felt like the characters faces were omitted with alarming frequency, and quite a few pages were cluttered with small, inconsequential panels when they would have been better served consolidated into a few dramatic ones.

    I think the biggest problem with this series is that it’s trying to be so many things to so many people and it never excels at any of them. There’s elements of a parent-gaurdian comedy, a teen romance, a supernatural drama and a crime thriller, but in every case I can think of multiple manga I’d prefer to be reading in that genre — a manga which isn’t hampered by the shallow but creepy age-restricted romance of Blood Alone..

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      I think the biggest problem with this series is that it’s trying to be so many things to so many people and it never excels at any of them. There’s elements of a parent-gaurdian comedy, a teen romance, a supernatural drama and a crime thriller, but in every case I can think of multiple manga I’d prefer to be reading in that genre — a manga which isn’t hampered by the shallow but creepy age-restricted romance of Blood Alone..

      Can I hire you to ghost-write my reviews? 😉

      1. Logan says:

        Haha, you flatter me! But I probably should take the time to improve my writing in a personal blog rather than using the comments on your excellent reviews to post my inadequately proof-read mini reviews in reply 😛 .

      2. Marfisa says:

        Just wait till the end of the next omnibus volume—or whichever volume winds up including the last volume that’s already appeared in English in single-volume format. At that point the mangaka suddenly adds non-moe T & A fanservice to the list of elements rather bumpily combined together, with Sainome, or whoever the resident adult female character is by then, abruptly sprouting double-D breasts and routinely dressing as if she’s on her way to audition for a job at a strip club.

        There was no plot or characterization-related reason provided for this. In fact, as far as I can recall, the other characters didn’t even seem to notice the jaw-dropping alteration in her appearance. My theory was that the editor ordered the mangaka to throw in some eyecatching non-jailbait fanservice in an attempt to expand the series’—or perhaps the magazine’s—popularity beyond the moe-fan demographic.

        Actually, so much of the six or seven volumes of “Blood Alone” I read tended to consist of slice of life vignettes that I suspect most of the urban fantasy/solving-supernatural-crimes aspects put in an appearance as often as they did largely because the editor periodically complained that this was supposed to be a vampire manga, so let’s have some sort of supernatural plot development, please. The mangaka himself seemed much more interested in simply drawing Misaki puttering around looking cute and/or wistful. Although the occasional appearances by a vampire friend of hers who looked like a ten- or eleven-year-old boy, but was actually at least seventy or eighty years old, suggested that the artist had in fact put some thought into how a more mature—or at least more cynical—child vampire might use the whole shota/Lolita-con phenomenon for his own personal gratification in a much less PG-13 mutual-crush-between-“child”-and-guardian way. (Misaki herself, it was belatedly revealed, had been turned into a vampire recently enough that her appearance was only about two or three years out of synch with her actual age.)

        1. Katherine Dacey says:

          Although the occasional appearances by a vampire friend of hers who looked like a ten- or eleven-year-old boy, but was actually at least seventy or eighty years old, suggested that the artist had in fact put some thought into how a more mature–or at least more cynical–child vampire might use the whole shota/Lolita-con phenomenon for his own personal gratification in a much less PG-13 mutual-crush-between-”child”-and-guardian way.

          Good point—Higure is a much more interesting character than Misaki, and the few chapters in which he tries to impart some vampire wisdom to Misaki are creepy, funny, and more than a little unnerving. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to read an entire series about him, but he brings a certain nasty energy to the proceedings that’s in very short supply elsewhere.

          And thanks for the low-down on future volumes! It sounds like Blood Alone may ultimately be too uneventful — and inconsistent — for my tastes.

  4. Alex Hoffman says:

    Excellently written and reasoned Kate. The moe aspect of this sort of work is what makes it attractive to moe fanatics in its native Japan, and so these slice of life moments are probably how it sells copies. The action is probably more or less tangental to all of that, in actuality.

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      The moe aspect of this sort of work is what makes it attractive to moe fanatics in its native Japan, and so these slice of life moments are probably how it sells copies. The action is probably more or less tangental to all of that, in actuality.

      That’s a good point, and a big part of the reason this series just doesn’t work for me. I’m much more interested in the horror aspect than the relationship between Misaki and Kuroe. A good story doesn’t need to explore one at the expense of the other, of course; as CJ points out, Let The Right One In manages to do both without shading into sentimentality (or focusing exclusively on the grislier aspects of the vampire girl’s existence). But Blood Alone has long stretches in which the author seems to have forgotten about the horror element completely.

  5. BakaTanuki says:

    [I have only read on volume of the manga, so may opinions may be way off]

    I did not really see the relationship as that big a deal. Too forced-moe to be actually charming, but not dubious enough to find offensive.

    I can really like moe series, but I have a very personal and definite line between “daww” and “disturbing”. Sure, Misaki really, really likes him, but young girls being infatuated with older guys is nothing new. As long as Kuroe isn’t taking advantage of that (and in volume 1, I don’t remember that being the case), then there isn’t a problem. Sure, he might find her charming and likeable, but I’m just not seeing why it matters that much. If, say, the series had questionable camera angles on her figure, panty shots, or Kuroe getting nosebleeds whenever she does something cute, then yeah I would take offense at that.

    The whole bed sharing thing was really cheesy with a justification that had me rolling my eyes, but I wasn’t offended by it. It was a simply an over-the-top way of making their relationship seem particularly charming. I agree that in real life, such a situation would be highly questionable, but why would it be questionable? Because of the -question- of not knowing whats really going on. In our society, experience has taught us that such an arrangement would likely be off a disturbing nature. But in this comic book for cute-loving older dudes who couldn’t care less about the potential real world ramifications of such a situation, its just a (poorly handled) way of making the pair seem cute. [Off topic: I am reminded of the part in Detective Conan is sleeping with his much older girlfriend. Of course, she has no idea that this young boy is actually her boyfriend her age. Sleeping together is not a big deal at all because he is “just a kid”, while Conan notes the awkwardness to himself that it would be weird if he were in his older body]

    A similar series that I enjoyed is Tsukuyomi Moon Phase (anime, not the manga. I tried reading that thing and it is really dry and boring and some of the more questionable moments seems have been downplayed or removed for the show) It has a developing relationship between an older guy and 15(?) year old girl that is clearly romantic by the end. It feels much, much more real and developed than in Blood Alone by actually showing how they met and such feelings developed. They spend most of the series bickering, but come close over time. And it isn’t like there is implication at all that any sexy times will take place- far from it. Blood Alone just throws these two together expecting the audience to just totally fall for them and be interested in their relationship without any context or seeing it develop. I know a lot of average girls who saw Moon Phase and loved it. More knowledgeable anime fans seem to take offense not so much at the show itself, but are wary of its implications due to familiarity with the potential audience.

    I (sometimes) like moe series, and have a high tolerance for such things, I guess. I know that I personally can enjoy these stories with no creepy intent, so I give the general audience the benefit of the doubt that they may be enjoying it in exactly the same way. So I don’t see the relationship in Blood Alone to be morally wrong, just very awkwardly handled and shoves the moe quite forcefully towards the reader without letting it develop naturally. I see Blood Alone to be too harmless to consider bad, but maybe that is just my own naivety..

    I agree with everything else though, it just was not particularly well written. I found the balance and pacing to be really off, even though I generally can appreciate serious plot being complimented by slice of life character interactions. I only bought one volume, but had been interested in seeing if it gets better. Better characterization and balance could have really saved this series, and it had an interesting concept that I could see going an interesting direction. Sounds like it never really gets in its stride, though, and I probably need not continue.

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      Sure, Misaki really, really likes him, but young girls being infatuated with older guys is nothing new. As long as Kuroe isn’t taking advantage of that (and in volume 1, I don’t remember that being the case), then there isn’t a problem. Sure, he might find her charming and likeable, but I’m just not seeing why it matters that much

      For me, the problem isn’t that Misaki has a crush on Kuroe — which, if I didn’t make it more explicit in my review, seems like a perfectly natural thing, given her age — it’s that Kuroe doesn’t do anything to discourage it, nor does he have appropriate relationships with women his own age. Sainome, the one adult woman in Blood Alone, is portrayed as a romantic rival for Kuroe’s affections. We see Kuroe rush home from an outing with Sainome to be with Misaki, consumed with anxiety that Misaki has missed him. (See Logan’s comments above; there’s a storyline in the third volume that explores Sainome’s past in some detail.)

      I’m not so concerned that the story is leading to “sexy times” between the characters — I can’t imagine a responsible American publisher would license a title like that, and nothing in Misaki and Kuroe’s relationship suggests that they’d cross that line. I’m more concerned that the relationship between Misaki and Kuroe has been presented in such an idealized, romantic fashion — and one that keeps Misaki trapped in a childish role, at that. Does that make sense?

      1. BakaTanuki says:

        Yeah, I see what you are saying. From the part in volume three you mentioned, I would probably agree with you. From what I remember in volume 1, he seemed to find her childishness charming, and would either tease her or humour her- pretty tame stuff could result in some fun interactions. I get the feeling that the author was trying to write an endearing story about the two’s relationship, but he just was not a skilled enough writer to pull it off effectively and avoid the creepy vibes. Looking at the other, serious aspects of the story don’t make me very confident in his abilities to write a very good story.

      2. themooninautumn says:

        “I’m more concerned that the relationship between Misaki and Kuroe has been presented in such an idealized, romantic fashion — and one that keeps Misaki trapped in a childish role, at that. Does that make sense?”

        It totally makes sense, and it is very cleverly given reasons by what you find out in the future about what happened in the past. Is that vague enough? 🙂

        I’ve read the four volumes that came out here, and I’ve got to say that there’s quite a bit of payoff and backstory in volume 4. Some of it is great (though the cliffhanger made me angry since no volume 5 came out). A lot of complaints people are making here take on a whole new meaning when you find out some of the why. I wish I could talk about it more, but I don’t want to spoil anything.

        I tend to suspend judgment and disbelief when I read, so I assume the author has a why for the behaviors I might find puzzling. If I’ve no reason to believe there’s anything prurient going on, I simply never entertain the idea. I patiently wait for answers. I invest a lot in the characters, so if they are even remotely sympathetic, I’ll give a manga several volumes to impress me.

        In this series, I liked the art (and those unconventional page layouts). I felt awful for the situation both Kuroe and Misaki were in. They both seemed to be wrestling with demons/moral quandries, and I wanted to know why and what kept them together. I thought the horror-mood/atmosphere was compellingly disturbing. I was intrigued by that horrific young/old male vampire.

        I kept reading, hoping for some explanations that would add to the story’s reread value. I was glad I did when volume 4 started to prove my instincts right, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where volume 5 takes the story.

        1. Katherine Dacey says:

          Thanks for the information about future volumes! I think that Seven Seas will be switching to individual installments after this one, so I may read one or two more to see how the characters’ relationship evolves.

  6. Lamn says:

    The uncritical portrayals remind me of a scene in the bokurano manga. In a scene one of the character’s mother is a prostitute, anyway the girl is fairly familiar with the guy who sets her mother up with clients. She decides to just casually ask him to set her up with someone because she needs money (She’s depicted as being in about the 7th grade). The character then doesn’t immediately say “No way” but curiously enough doesn’t even say “Sure I’m an immoral character anyway”. Instead the character is shown to somehow be struggling against his perceived set of morals saying “But keeping it from Miko-san, I don’t know… Goes against my principles you know.” (Miko-san is her mother) as if somehow it would be perfectly fine so long as her mother approved. I wonder if the author shared that characters opinion.

    As far as licensing titles go, of course there are some titles that would probably be a disaster to license, on the other hand I didn’t think Becchin to Mandara would be licensed and yet here we are. I’m not sure what titles manga publishers are eventually going to be comfortable (or not) with publishing.

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      After wading through several volumes of Shadow Star and Bokurano: Ours, I’m still not sure if Kitoh is just fiercely unsentimental about children or totally cynical about them. His own moral stance seems ambiguous at best.

  7. N says:

    Moe is definitely a very difficult topic to talk about. It would be highly hypocritical to complain about the genre/stlye being pedophilia, as the same complaint has been lodged at manga in general, often citing the worst titles possible as proof. Yet, at the same time, the questionable content of many a title cannot be ignored. On top of that, moe’s definition is constantly evolving, creating a problem for discussion. Like all issues though, the best way to deal with them is through well informed opinion.

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      Very true! The best thing about Jason Thompson’s article on moe is that he got people talking about the subject. Even if they ultimately reject his talking points, the article was worthwhile for making people examine their own opinions a little more carefully — never a bad thing!

  8. Rena says:

    I read a little of Blood Alone but didn’t find a lot to interest me. The vibe was a little creepy (I thought Dance in the Vampire Bund was creepy too and kept reading) but I’m not sure why I felt uninterested in it.

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      I haven’t read Dance in the Vampire Bund, though I admit I’ve been curious; I read the summary on the Seven Seas website and thought it sounded interesting. Would you recommend it?

      1. BakaTanuki says:

        Oh man, Vampire Bund. I can’t speak for the manga, but not even I could get past the pedo implications of that series in the anime. I watched about three episodes, and couldn’t handle any more. I mostly remember that the main girl was almost-nude for too much of the time and an infamous scene where the older guy has to rub a certain lotion that protects her from the sun over her entire body. It was bad enough that FUNimation actually censored it from their online stream.

        I guess some people are okay with it, because she is is -really- whatever-hundred years old, but that’s a cheesy old justification that I don’t buy at all. I mean, just one look at the manga covers shows quite clearly what its intentions are. I tried watching the anime since it is directed by Akiyuki Shinbo who previously saved the mediocre Tsukuyomi manga with his great adaption, but instead of Tsukyomi’s charm and fun, Vampire Bund is clearly trying to be sexy.

        Maybe the manga is better though, despite appearances, because I know some people who read it that I would not have expected to be enjoying it.

      2. Logan says:

        I’m interested to see what Rena says, as it sounds like they’ve read more, but as someone who just gave into that same curiosity and read the first volume of Vampire Bund, I have to say it’s actually better than I expected. It avoids my main problem with Misaki, in that Mina isn’t young and therefore doesn’t act young like Misaki (save one moment at the end obviously thrown in to cater to the moe fans). However, it has it’s own set of problems since essentially every female in the entire volume is extremely sexualized, which is obviously most troubling in the case of the girlish-bodied Mina (who spends a large part of the first two chapters dressed in only a thong).

        However, looking past the extreme sexualization, I actually found the plot to be interesting and enjoyable. I’m only one volume in and a lot has already happened and the stage has been set for even more. It’s somewhat action heavy and involves the internal politics of vampires and their interactions with a world coming to terms with their existence. The characters thus far are likable, albiet nothing special or groundbreaking. Although I will give credit for Akira being a strong male lead in an ecchi story, something which is extremely rare in my experience (which is mostly anime, I haven’t read much ecchi manga).

        Long story short, I’m intrigued enough to read more, but your own enjoyement will largely be hinged on if you can get past the sexualized females and scantily clad girlish body of Mina — both of which are pretty large caveats that I could understand keeping people from being able to read this manga.

      3. Katherine Dacey says:

        Thanks for the two very different points of view on Vampire Bund! The description of the lead character suggests to me that Bund may not be my cup of tea.

  9. Melinda Beasi says:

    I haven’t read Blood Alone, but one of the things I find most interesting about this discussion is that it becomes so clear that the perception of the main relationship as inappropriate or not really comes down to whose fantasy is this? The way you describe the situation here—a young girl with a crush on an adult man who makes no moves to discourage the crush and shows no interest in women his own age—is really creepy when it’s obviously the man’s fantasy, intended to be shared by its male readership. On the other hand, in something like Shugo Chara! where the 12-year-old heroine has a crush on a high school senior (who also doesn’t discourage the crush and even expresses impatience at one point for her to “hurry up and grow up” so that he can one day appropriately express his feelings) reads much differently, because it’s just as clearly the girl’s fantasy and the series’ readers are assumed to be other girls her age, who will naturally share this fantasy. If Blood Alone was written as shoujo, I wonder how differently it would read.

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      That’s a great point, Melinda; perspective is so crucial to whether this story seems pandering or innocent. Dengeki Daioh, the magazine in which Blood Alone is serialized, runs a lot of other series in this vein. The magazine is aimed at teenagers and young men in their twenties, so it seems reasonable to think that this a male fantasy that we’re seeing, not a young girl’s. (Marfisa’s comments above seem to support this reading as well.)

      And you’re absolutely right: there are many shojo stories in which girls have crushes on teachers, college students, and other older male figures, and those relationships aren’t problematized in the least. I think Magical_Emi has an entire category on her website devoted to “smutty teacher romances” (or something along those lines; her phrase was funnier and more pointed than mine). As I get older, those kind of stories bother me a lot more than they did when I was 13 or 15, in large part because I have much clearer sense of the power differential between a teenage girl and, say, a 24-year-old guy. But if I’m being honest, those fantasies would have been appealing when I was in high school and having difficulty connecting with boys my own age.

      1. haha says:

        in my opinion the relationship between misaki and kuroe is pure and there is nothing wrong with them sleeping in the same bed. (unless you equate this with lolicon in which case the person who sees it as dirty action is the dirty one) at first kuroe takes care of misaki because he feels guilty for not being able to protect her from a blood elder and resulted in misaki being infected. later on, however, he feels that it is his duty to take care of misaki and he only views himself as a guardian; he hasnt made a single romantic move on misaki. secondly it’s common that a girl feels attracted to a man who is caring, gentle not to mention handsome and charismatic and able to protect her. to be honest, who wouldn’t have a crush on someone like that? Also, if you’ve read beyond those 3 volumes you would know that misaki is actually older but her vampirism stops her aging process. Technically she should be around 15 but she just chose to be a spoiled little princess. (i dislike her for that) lastly, you said that the manga has some “boring” chapters. well that is what a slice of life manga is supposed to be like. About the mediocre artwork, the mangaka is not a professional and the series started out as a doujinshi.

        1. Katherine Dacey says:

          All I’m offering here is my opinion, haha, not a statement of fact. I welcome intelligent dissent, but please — suggesting that I’m a pervert for critiquing the relationship between an adult character and a child is tacky.

  10. lovelyduckie says:

    I pre-ordered this volume and it’s a series that’s one of my top “to read” ones on my piles. But I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’ll probably read it after I finish re-reading Skip Beat!, and also reading The Bride of Deimos and The Dreaming Collection. I haven’t been able to read a single volume of manga since Thursday and I’m getting a bit jittery from the withdrawal.

  11. UrsulaX says:

    I agree with most of the review, but I do not find the mangaka’s “sentimental and uncritical portrayal” of the main couple’s relationship particularly insidious. Volume 4 reveals that Kuroe initially meets Misaki as a replacement for her injured bodyguard, which contributes to my impression that she wields the power in their relationship. She chooses to remain a little princess instead of facing what she could become. You could argue that she’s trapped in a nightmarish Peter Pan scenario, but what keeps her there apart from the reality of immortality? Since the clock stopped for her, I don’t think the rules of appropriate conduct and age-specific experience apply anymore, nor do I think it necessary for the author to acknowledge the reader’s moral compass through Kuroe. That would assume Kuroe holds some authority, even though he is an equally pitiful character. He is an adult playing house with a girl of monstrous potential. The one other person who could understand their relationship may ultimately lose her humanity. The fact that she doesn’t is the point of the manga, which attempts to suggest that Kuroe and Misaki exist for each other. Yes, the drawings tend to be a little too cute or suggestive for my tastes, but I found the underlying message to be pretty benign.

  12. LG says:

    Out of curiosity, I finally got and read this. As far as Misaki’s romantic feelings for Kuroe goes…it was weird. I’m not actually sure what I think about the setup with Kuroe and Misaki. Sainome often notes how dense Kuroe is, and yet Kuroe must be at least somewhat aware of Misaki’s feelings for him – how else would he have realized that the one dress was important to her, when all he really knew about it was that Misaki had spilled soda on it at one point?

    One thing I’m wondering, which may just be a result of issues with the artwork, is if Misaki maybe reminds Kuroe of his sister, who he seemed to be extremely close to (was it just me, or was the one scene with his sister at least as romantically drawn as a “date” scene with Misaki?). When Kuroe’s sister made her first appearance, it took me a bit to reorient myself, because she looked so much like a taller version of Misaki.

    I have to say, though, that I was not nearly as bothered by this manga as I was by the Dance in the Vampire Bund anime (I’ve only seen the censored version – I’m not sure I could stand it uncensored and I have no desire to try the manga). Adult mind + child’s body + bouts of childish behavior + sexualized situations does not sit well with me at all. That said, there was a better, more interesting story to be had in Dance in the Vampire Bund.

    I’m not really sure what kind of story Takano was trying to tell in Blood Alone. The slice-of-life stuff doesn’t feel like welcome breaks in between tenser, darker supernatural chapters, it feels like what Takano actually wanted to do was write a slice-of-life manga and occasionally remembered that some of the characters were vampires or had special powers. Higure makes a way more interesting vampire than Misaki, in that when he acts cute and child-like, it’s just a mask that covers up what’s probably a scary predator. That kind of thing could be fun to explore, but I’m not sure Takano is going to do that. I still can’t decide it this manga is worth sticking with, even via the library.

  13. Fer says:

    for sure if it’s a reality it would not be tolerated for a man and a girl are living together without any family relationship. but i also think that is not fair to just emphasize on the bad sides as well. it doesn’t really matter for the main characters to do all the things as if they’re family as long as it doesn’t go to pervert things. i think it’s fine to pretend that they’re family after all.

  14. Ann says:

    I’m gonna have to agree, the Misaki/Kurou match up just isn’t working for me. As much as I want to like the story and all of the characters, I sometimes just end up thinking that this some sort of fetish fantasy that the author manage to put in a manga. I don’t mean that as a personal insult, but as I continued to see that romance between the Misaki and Kurou, I just can’t help but scream “PEDO!”. The other characters are very lovable and interesting and so are Misaki and Kurou. It’s just that sort of romantic pair up isn’t something I’m comfortable with.

  15. Patricia says:

    So would you have had less of a problem with the manga if Kuroe had been a woman?

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      If Kuroe were a twenty-something woman who was snuggling with a twelve-year-old boy, I’d find that storyline equally distasteful and problematic. Age and experience give the much older partner too much power in such a relationship, regardless of the characters’ genders.

  16. David says:

    The review was written by a women.
    No surprises there.
    It’s ignorant people like her who give reviewers a bad name.

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      Nothin’ like playing the misogyny card when you disagree with a review, David. But if you’re going to characterize me as “ignorant,” at least have the decency to proofread your comment. There’s a glaring typo in the first line.

  17. dont trust critics says:

    read it interesting but the relationship between Kuroe and Misaki is more like father and daughter also you are completely ignoring the good parts about blood alone

    please don’t make one-sided reviews it has a good story line you are just making other people not interested with you’re review

    1. Katherine Dacey says:

      If you read my review carefully, you’ll see it isn’t “one-sided”; I take the time to consider every element of the story, from the characters’ relationships to the art. For me to give a manga a positive review, however, ALL of these elements need to work — not just one or two. And in this case, I felt that the writing and the characterization weren’t strong enough to hold the reader’s interest. What I don’t understand is why you and other commenters are so angry with me for not liking this book. I’m entitled to my own opinion just as surely as you are.

      BTW, the idea that my review would have a negative impact on sales of Blood Alone is flat-out silly; critics wield a lot less power than your handle would suggest. The series had a built-in fan base long before I wrote my review.

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