Blood Alone 1-3 by Masayuki Takano – manga review

"Blood Alone" Vols 1-3 (omnibus) by Masayuki Takano.
“Blood Alone” Vols 1-3 (omnibus) by Masayuki Takano.
I just finished reading the Blood Alone omnibus for volumes 1-3 by Masayuki Takano, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of it.

The author/illustrator is wonderfully skillful at depicting small conversations—those slices of life that build relationships—and making them pivotal to character development. She creates those types of moments that you wish you had more of in your life with the people that you hold dear. Life is often overfilled with miscommunication and misunderstanding, but this author/illustrator creates beautiful moments of clarity between two people. Unfortunately, her plot is inscrutable.

Blood Alone seems to be a window into the lives of Kuroe, who is a freelance vampire hunter, and Misaki, a vampire child under his protection. They go about their lives. They have conversations. They have more conversations. Things happen that seem exciting. Kuroe kicks butt here and there. An errant vampire or two is put down. The story teases us with the edges of a deep backstory. And there’s more conversation. Vampire Hunter D this isn’t.

The relationships are the true strength of the story. This powerful intimacy is why the characters feel so real. It is also why the story frustrated me at times. Imagine a tale with a dark, compelling story arc that interrupts the big reveals with still moments that have nothing to do with the story arc. This is Blood Alone at its best and worst—made all the more frustrating because the characters that I wanted to understand most spent their time building their relationships while dancing around history. Everybody knew what was going on except me, the reader.

The story is skillfully rendered. There’s nice paneling, and good layout. The characters are attractively drawn. The art feels as if the artist has studied from life. However, the faces lack variety in their expressions. Takano compensates for that with fantastic gesturing. Although the faces don’t emote as much as I might like them too, the reader is never left wondering what people are feeling. I was very impressed with her masterful use of body language.

Because Takano isn’t forthcoming on motivations, however, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what bothered me about Kuroe and Misaki’s relationship. Truthfully, Misaki is innocent, and having crushes on handsome adults isn’t outside the behavior of someone her age. Also, Kuroe has his fair share of adult female friends. He doesn’t do anything overtly romantic with Misaki. Let me emphasize. There is no romance between the two characters.

Unfortunately, they do have lots of intimate moments where they look into each other’s eyes. Is this a problem with Takano’s stony faces? Possibly, but remember, she is masterful at body language. The tone is clear. Or is it? Is Kuroe brotherly? Is he fatherly? Is he a creepy perv? I believe the author is keeping that answer to herself as the big reveal. Just look at the cover and incidental art between chapters, and you’ll see she enjoys drawing these characters in loving situations. From what I can gather, this is a love story in the making. Cultural differences aside, the age contrast is simply awkward.

I found Blood Alone entertaining and engaging. I definitely will be reading the rest of the volumes. However, the ambiguous nature of Kuroe and Misaki’s relationship made me uneasy. I may revise my rating once I finish the series.

Release Date: April 26, 2011 (USA)
ISBNs: 1934876984 (9781934876985)
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Language: English
Original Language: Japanese
Original Title: ブラッドアローン (Buraddo Arōn)

MySF Rating: Three point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 50%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (social drinking, smoking)
Language: 1 (some minor expletives)
Nudity: 1 (side and back of a woman)
Sexuality: 2 (the series is pregnant with implied sexuality between a man and a child)
Violence: 3 (brutal violence, knife attacks, combat, crime scenes, death)

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