Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Blood + Manga vol. 1 Impression

Blood + Manga volume 1
Saya Otonashi is just your average high school track athlete, superb in the high jump, not so great with her memory. Saya does not have any memory beyond the past year, a case of amnesia that causes teasing at school as well as internal strife. What Saya doesn’t know can indeed hurt her. See Saya is not ordinary, in fact she seems to be ageless to a degree with vivid flashbacks to times long past. After she’s attacked by a Chiropteran, a vampire like monster, and assisted by a mysterious cello player named Hagi, do we begin to see more of what Saya is, of what her memory won’t allow her to remember. Saya’s family, father George as well as her ‘brother’ Kai, are under the orders of the Red Shield for whom Saya works. No matter how ordinary her high school and family life have been things are about to get really mess, really fast. Who is Saya? Why is her blood the only weapon against the Chiropterans? How does Kai, who most def has feelings for his ‘sister’ tie into things and what’s up with Hagi’s hand, the sword he gives Saya and this little arm missing dude Charles? So many questions, so few pages.

The Blood + manga from Dark Horse is excellent, yes excellent. The original Blood one shot anime from a few years back introduced US Otaku to a mysterious and dark warrior named Saya and the Chiropteran’s she fights. It also left the same audience wanting more, which we’ve received in the form of the Blood + anime which is not a direct follow-up to the first anime, but an excellent story in and of itself. The Blood + manga takes the Production IG anime (seen on Cartoon Network) and delivers the story on the printed page, as adapted and drawn by Asuka Katsura. I find myself adoring the art style, more so that what is seen in the anime. This feels like the original Blood anime, has a touch of Goth mixed with high school innocence that all crashes in on itself when the Chiropteran attack. Sounds like a mixed bag, well it’s not. Let me take a step back and establish this. The art is excellent, characters well drawn in a style that just suites this series. Each character relays a true range of emotion from clumsy family encounters, touching emotional encounters and of course dead serious action sequences that animate themselves in the readers mind. The story teases with the last past of Saya and the journey yet to come. The many questions outlined above build on each other without frustrating the reader. You want to find out more about Charles, Hagi, Red Shield, Kai and even Kai’s lost baseball career. Yes this is indeed the complete package. Did I mention it gets the signature Dark Horse treatment with a high quality printing and colored pages as seen in Ghost in the Shell? It’s yummy.

I’ve read a lot of manga, seen a lot of anime and how the two touch each other. Reading Blood + is indeed a joy as it delivers on the best of what manga is. Excellent story with plenty to tell, engaging characters, action, beautiful character designs for characters you actually care about brought together by Dark Horse in a book that looks great, reads even better and will make your manga collection glow. Yes, it’s that good. I for one hate that I’ve got to wait for volume 2, but you need to give this book a go around. If you like vampire manga, if you like action, mystery and a great story then this book is for you. Well done to Dark Horse, you are indeed giving fans what they want.

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