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Blood Blade Volume 1 Review

Publisher Summary


Having fallen in battle long ago, Count Vlad Dracula is reborn as a katana-wielding young vampiress in an alternate-history Europe. After the reincarnated Dracula rescues a girl named Clara from a mysterious stranger, Clara explains that she is the creation of a certain Victor Frankenstein. She also reveals that she is fleeing from an organization called Cerberus, which seeks to capture and study “monsters” such as herself in order to create an army of human-monster hybrids. Clara begs the vampiress to flee with her to an island of monsters where the two of them will be safe…but as they set out for Monster Island, the sinister forces of Cerberus are in hot pursuit.


Story & Art by Oma Sei

Translation: Ko Ransom

Lettering: EK Weaver


I received Blood Blade Volume 1 as an Advanced Review Copy from Kodansha USA in exchange for an honest review.


 

Background


Kodansha USA announced during their industry panel at Comic-Con international Blood Blade. An industry first in which an all-original manga series by Japanese creator is to be published in English before anywhere else.


The series was available to read for free on the Kodansha Reader Portal before receiving a print release February 20th, 2024


The following is a message from Oma Sei after the announcement of Blood Blade


 

Review



This tale begins in an alternate history of Europe near the fortress that once belonged to the infamous Vladislaus Draculesti (Vlad the Impaler). We cut to a chase scene where we see a girl running into a snowy forest away from a tall, menacing figure. As the girl finds herself at the edge of a steep hill, she unfortunately meets a quick end with a stab in the back from the menacing figure. As the man triumphs in his victory, a sudden explosion of snow is seen in the distance, with another figure appearing. Proclaiming that this man is in their territory, we see the two engage in swift combat.




The battle ends with our hooded figure decapitating the man in a nice double-page action sequence. We come to learn that the girl who was stabbed earlier isn't a human. And the man chasing the girl seems to be a mercenary/assassin sent to dispose of her. Intrigued by the circumstances of the situation, the hooded figure's eyes glow up with delight, imagining what future disasters may hold by bringing home the girl. As the girl wakes up, she finds herself in a mansion. She wonders around for a bit before she finds herself in a Victorian-era grand hall with a maid on the left and someone sitting menacingly on a throne. The figure on the throne is the hooded figure from before, who reveals herself as Vladislaus Draculesti, reborn into a new form, along with revealing that they are a vampire.


The girl introduces herself as Clara, and she explains that her grandfather told her to seek out a vampire. This is because her land is working on a research project to create a cross between human beings and monsters to build an army of human-hybrid monsters to take over the world. With vampires being the prime target of their research. Clara tells Vlad that the organization behind this is named Cerberus, and she exclaims that they've already taken other monsters. Vlad's maid seems unimpressed by this story and dismisses Clara's story. Shocked by this, Clara reveals herself to be a golem created by Doctor Frankstein, showcasing the infamous stitchwork. The man from before seemingly came back to life and broke into Vlad's castle, challenging them to a fight.



This high-octane introduction helps set the reader dive into this alternate take on European folklore and the monsters that we've grown to know, such as vampires and werewolves. I really like how the author was able to put a new spin on these already established figures to create something completely fresh. It's art is no joke either; each character's design is done with intent to stay true to the source material while giving it something new to make them stand out in the pages. To add to that, the background art is what's most striking to me. There will be times where I've done a double take because I cannot believe how almost photorealistic it looks. Here are a few examples.





It's action sequences are also really well choreographed, as we get to see how each of these different characters uses their abilities to execute attacks. For example, the man who breaks into Vlad's fortress is revealed to have a werewolf-arm transplant, which enables him to inhabit those abilities. With that in mind, Vlad has to come up with a way to overcome this obstacle, and again, the art really sells the intensity of this fight.




But it isn't all action; throughout the volume, we get to see moments of peace as we get to see more of the environment and your standard banter between a trio of characters. This helps give the story breathing room and helps flesh out these characters identities from the source material they're inspired by. And after reading all of Volume 1, I wasn't able to find anything I didn't like. From start to finish, I wasn't able to put it down.




 

Final Thoughts


Blood Blade is a really entertaining read as we get to see monster classics such as Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, Werewolves, and more reimagined in this alternate-history European setting. The environmental art and monster design are absolutely jaw-droppingly good, and I was wondering how they made it look so good. The story and the character are well written, and the action scenes are well choreographed to create really tense moments throughout the volume. Oma Sei really knocked it out of the park with this one, and Kodansha USA did such a great job giving this creator the platform to flourish their ideas. I can't wait to see more, where the story goes for our characters, and what else Kodansha USA can bring from their new initiative, created in Japan and published in English First. Verdict: Buy it


Blood Blade Volume 1 from Kodansha USA is now available at all retailers


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