Blood Alone is a Japanese manga by Masayuki Takano published in North America by Seven Seas. It was originally published in Japan as a doujinshi. A crime fiction story with romantic undertones, Blood Alone introduces another vampire universe with some unlikely protagonists.
The Gist: This story revolves around two main protagonists. Kurose Kuroe is a best-selling author and private investigator. His knowledge of supernatural culture often leads him into encounters with deadly creatures including elite vampires. Minato Misaki is a recently turned vampiress lacking knowledge of her own powers and rejecting her own vampiric nature in hopes of remaining as humane as possible. She has happened into Kuroe’s care and protection. When his investigations put his life at risk, Misaki worries that she may have to turn Kuroe into one of her own kind in order to save him. Blood Alone is the story of Kuroe and Misaki, and the actions of vampires that alter both of their lives forever.
The Characters/Romance: The plot in Blood Alone is very character driven. The only sticking point I have is that the exposition of the characters takes up to four volumes. While that may not be an issue for a Japanese audience, I know that here in the west we are used to more information sooner. By the end of the first omnibus I was still asking myself why I should give a damn about these characters. A lot of that is revealed in volume 4, which isn’t in the omnibus. While the story lines at the beginning tend to be very episodic and disjointed, there’s also the aspect of invented vocabulary that is integrated into the story. I had to return to the glossary every time a word was introduced because there was very little context to understand the term. I found that annoying.
Kuroe is the most interesting character. He has supernatural abilities that allow him to fight vampires as a human. His backstory is explained within the first omnibus, so we have an idea why he has these abilities and his motivation for fighting vampires. He is a writer as well as a private investigator. That means he’s smart, athletic, and very protective. Traits in a guy I tend to like.
Misaki’s character is a young looking, cute vampiress that is a spoilt child. Rightly so, since she was a child of wealth. Her main goal in her existence now is to protect Kuroe, whom she has fallen for. She longs to go on dates with Kuroe and even sleeps in the same bed with him. Which, if this is suppose to be our main romance in the story, it’s rather creepy.
Misaki is in a ten year old body. She’s maybe 12 since she’s been turned. Kuroe looks to be in his late 20s to early 30s. Their relationship reminds me of a younger sister idolizing her older brother. Misaki is serious about loving Kuroe. However, Kuroe seems to be oblivious to her feelings. I really can’t cheer on this relationship, either. While some aspects are cute, like an amusement park date or a dinner out, it’s hard to picture this developing into something intimate, which is where most romantic relationships will eventually end up. It would make Kuroe a loli, and the imagery would be more like child pornagraphy. No thanks.
The Art: In this area Takano doesn’t disappoint. Blood Alone has a very distinct style and mood. Characters are well drawn, as well as environments. The toning is used sparingly to convey mood and light and shadows. Colored pieces stay within a neutral palette. This adds to the gothic and antique look of the story. It also unifies all the colored pieces. High praise for Takano on that decision.
The panelling struck me most out of all the artistic elements. Some scenes are printed on a white bacground, which is typical of most manga. The majority of scenes however, are printed on a black background. I was not able to determine why Takano chose to print particular scenes on white. I felt that the use of black backgrounds throughout most of the story added to the gothic tone of the story and mysticism of the plot. Another interesting aspect of the paneling is Takano’s variations. Some plot arcs are very blocky. Others have no panels at all, and are very collage like. Then there are a few two page spreads with one image. I couldn’t find a reasoning for the paneling choices, but the changes were nice. At least the whole story wasn’t block paneling.
The Audience: Misaki and Kuroe aren’t getting together any time soon, so their romantic relationship would be at a cuddly level. Blood Alone does contain several fight scenes and with vampires there is a bit of violence and gore. It leans more towards crime fiction than romance, so I feel that this story would be enjoyed by an older audience.
The Media: Blood Alone is available from Seven Seas publishing. Volumes 1-3 are in omnibus format, while volumes 4, 5, and 6 are single editions. In Japan there are several drama CDs. A volume seven was published in Japan, so I assume we will be getting that volume here as well. Takano put Blood Alone on hiatus after volume seven, so I’m not sure if the story will be continuing or not.
Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥
Definitely not your typical vampire romance, Blood Alone starts slow and then soon stops. I probably won’t be investing any more time in it.