Witness the touching relationship between young vampiress Misaki and her human companion, the former vampire hunter turned investigative author, Kurose Kuroe, whom she'd die to protect. For recently turned vampire Minato Misaki, vampirism and the beastly powers that come with it are something that she wouldn't wish upon her worst enemy, let alone her beloved Kuroe. But Kuroe's supernatural investigations make him a regular target of not only vampires but of all sorts of undead creatures of the night. The only way to save him from these deadly threats may be to do the one thing that Misaki fears the most: to turn Kuroe into a vampire for his own protection
Blood Alone was partially published in English first by Infinity Studios, who published the first four volumes from February 15, 2006 to February 1, 2008, and later by Seven Seas, who published the first six volumes, volumes 1-3 in a single omnibus volume, and the remaining three as individual volumes, from May 3, 2011 to April 3, 2012.
Mangaka: Takano Masayuki
Serialized in: Dengeki Comics (Media Works)
Genre: seinen, supernatural, romance, slice of life, mystery
N. American license: Infinity Studios
Blood Alone revolves around a shoujo vampire (13+ years old) named Misaki, and the man she lives with, Kuroe. His age is indeterminate so far, but he’s clearly past school age, a writer and part-time private eye. Despite this May to December situation, their relationship is a chaste one, even though they sleep in one bed together. Compounding the oddness of their arrangement, she has not made him into a will-less slave, a “Renfield” — which makes them unique in this milieu.
There is a lot more
to Kuroe than meets the eye, however. Mysteries in his past and regarding his abilities are revealed slowly throughout the chapters. Although Misaki is “newly-turned”, a young vampire, she is protected by Higure, another child-vampire but one who is extremely old and powerful. Sainome, a police pathologist, is an old friend of Kuroe’s who sometimes asks him for help with odd or difficult cases.
This story is fun because it doesn’t focus solely on the action, nor does it sacrifice the action and mystery for the love story. Both are used effectively, sometimes one side in one chapter, sometimes the other, and a couple of times both are wound together in the plot. Volume three is almost totally about relationships and almost nothing to do with vampires or action, but volume four brings back the intrigue in spades.
Takano’s artwork is obviously influenced by shoujo style, but unlike some shoujo it is graphically clean, both when it confines itself to panels with borders and when it shifts to border-less pages. I thought this shifting quite innovative. Too often in shoujo manga, I find some scenes — especially action scenes — drawn too densely to see clearly what is happening. This is not a problem here. Misaki is always shown with a hint of her fangs, never letting the reader forget what she is. I would likely continue with this manga for the art alone, even if the story weren’t interesting.
Infinity’s production of the book is quite good, with no typesetting problems that I could see and the binding is top-rate — they didn’t skimp on the binding glue! I also appreciate that Infinity took the trouble to make a dust cover like the Japanese tankoubon have. The full-color cover and frontispiece add delightful touches. Blood Alone employs one break with manga tradition: black background borders do not indicate the past or flashbacks, but rather nighttime. Those borders fade from white to grey to black as the sun sets and vice versa in the morning, highlighting the danger to Misaki when she is inevitably caught outdoors.
I recommend Blood Alone highly. If I have any complaint, it’s perhaps that the 13+ rating might be a bit young — not due to violence or sex, but simply the subtlety itself. This runs in a seinen magazine, after all — a college-age men’s publication. The story is delicate and most issues are handled subtly. Despite the lolicon situation, it is not played up at all, with zero use of fanservice whatsoever, which I appreciated. The action is actually exciting and Misaki is completely adorable.
Ever wanted to read something captivating and alluring, while similar to "Kure-nai"? Readers, i bring forth to you, Blood Alone... a romantic mystery fantasy drama that merges sweet romance and vampires, which are obscured from society.
The story revolves around two protagonists, one being Misaki Minato, a newly turned vampire, not out of choice but as a result of an attack on her and her father, which left her parentless and alone. The other protagonist is Kuroe Kurose known by society as an upcoming author. At the same time he is the guardian of Misaki and has a part time job as a private eye. His
intricate past has many secrets but as the story unfolds, we learn a bit more of him and his background... as a "vampire hunter".
To some, what i've already written and will write may appear to be spoilers but on the contrary, it is merely a template for which i can elaborate further on this highly entertaining and intriguing story... after all, the journey of these two has only just begun.
I do acknoledge that the concept of vampires has been used numerous times and you would probably anticipate a myriad of action scenes followed by blood thirsty vampires roaming the city but you would only be half correct. This manga diverges quite a bit from this "expected" storyline by making the relationship between misaki and kuroe a main part of this chronicle.
As you continue to read this manga,you would probably be reminded a lot of the anime called Kure-nai (for those who have seen it) in which a young girl has feelings for her guardian who is significantly older. Kuroe so far only thinks of Misaki as a child and wants to protect her from the dangers of vampires with malicious intent.
Another enjoyable part of this story is that as a viewer you would "sometimes" get to see the thoughts of Misaki and her feelings for Kuroe, which are further implied through her actions. I personally find this really enjoyable as her character is like a tsundere... acting independant and throwing tantrums yet deep inside she wants someone to depend on and someone who cares for her.
Besides the romance, there are quite a few action scenarios, which are intense, clearly portrayed and very easy to follow. The art is detailed and aesthethically pleasing. The panels are nicely separated but at times also merges different panels together without borders thus creating something new (to me) and creative. This innovative style gives you as the reader, an enjoyable feel as you're eyes follows the flow of the story through those merged panels.
One small thing i did notice over time is that when Kuroe is dressed for a mission, he looks exactly, if not almost like a splitting image of Hei from Darker than BLACK (a bit down the story), which just adds as a bonus for me because i admire Hei as a character.
Overall Blood Alone proves to be a truly remarkable manga, which ingeniously surpasses other mangas of its genre, one notably being "Vampire Knight" (yes, you heard that statement correctly) and it exhibits a realistic feel of romance, while providing a great fantasy storyline for us readers to enjoy.
N.B. The main story is yet to be revealed therefore this review may change as the story develops and also i hope that you enjoyed my thoughts of this manga.
Rumour has it that the manga has been dropped; the lack of updates seem to confirm this.
All in all, I enjoyed it. The story isn't driving although it is interesting enough. The characters are much more interesting. There are hints of over-arcing plots (the magician Kuroe shares a name with, his sister, the musician father of Misaki, his connection to Kuroe, etc) but nothing ever goes anywhere because of the apparent cancellation. It's still worth reading, though.
Pardon for rabbit trail discussing the potential loli interpretation. :)
The (onesided?) romance between Misaki and Kuroe is in heavy squick territory. She's pre-pubescent and thinks
she's in love with a man who (admittedly) resembles her father. He's in his mid-twenties to early thirties and moooooooooost of the time doesn't seem to reciprocate or even acknowledge her feelings. There's enough little bits of fanservice here and there though that indicate the feelings of the author, and this is where the squick lies.
I wouldn't be quite as annoyed if she was in fact of legal age but just looked like a loli. Unlike the young boy vampire Higure, she is actually the age that she looks (it's indicated she's been a vampire probably less than a year while he has been a vamp for probably a couple hundred). I still would be annoyed because the implications of lolicon would still be high but technically it would not be. Also why I don't mention about Higure's definite interest in (adult) men as something that bothered me. Visually it's more than a bit off-putting and feels like it's fanservice, but technically Higure is very legal. =P
At any rate, this is my basic reason why I don't rate it higher. The squick is high and while the story was good enough to finish out what there was scanlated - 8 volumes/34ish chapters - it's not as good as I wanted it to be.
I really like the approach to vampires and vampire hunters and vampire assassins. A lot of it isn't new but picks up the best of vampire lore - blood families, territory disputes, the question of co-existing with humanity, vampire servants/masters (Hellsing), even the domestic angle (Moon Phase) etc - but the execution just really rings true.
Yes, there are bloody, super-powered battles, but at the core it is a story about a little vampire girl who is mostly little girl and not very much vampire. Higure, the vampire with the appearance of a young boy, might give a hint towards Misaki's future. Despite the old soul in a young body trait, he pulls off the balance of a not-fully-developed mind with the knowledge and experience of a vampire. He's still a lonely little boy despite (maybe because of?) the hundreds of years and the claim that he's not the boy Higure anymore.
Do I wish there was more and a proper completion to the story? Yeah. Am I okay with the focus on Misaki's crush on Korue? No. But it was worth my time anyway.
Side note: I actually really like the art. I forget what it reminds me of (maybe Usagi Drop?) but I just really do like the artstyle.
When I first read this series back in February 2013 (thank you GoodReads for that precise recollection), I remember that I really enjoyed myself with it. The first thing that popped out the most to me, nostalgically speaking, were the characters and the chemistry between Misaki and Kuroe. The second was the artwork. I recalled how beautiful I felt the illustrations were. I’m quite pleased to admit that both of those things have held up fairly well even after four years. However, the story in its entirety is a completely different case, pardon the pun.
Starting with the qualities that I loved: the vampires themselves. While
a few of the vampires do have a loli or moe type of air to them, overall they’re all so sophisticated and highly intellectual that those aspects don’t matter much at all. They aren’t the standard “beautiful and misjudged” stereotype that Western audiences are used to (and like to obsess over), but they also aren’t the sadistic monstrosities that’s exhibited in common anime/manga of similar genres. They’re just people who are different. This allowed for more attention to detail on getting to know the vampires individually as said people. When trying to add a layer of humanity to vampires, I belief this technique works the best; at the very least it worked damn well in Blood Alone. Granted not every single vampire is this way, but the vast majority of them are.
You never physically see vampire teeth puncture flesh in the manga series at all. A mouth on someone’s neck, sure, but never the graphic image of a vampire actually feeding in a brutal or savage way that’s expected from this type of medium. This vague depiction also contributes wonderfully to the whole notion of these creatures just being an “evolved” version of humans. In addition, this careful and tender means of delineating them feasting makes the manga feel more provocative than if it were flagrantly displayed for the world to see, if that makes sense.
Misaki and Kuroe themselves, as I mentioned earlier, have a wonderful relationship with a charmingly balanced chemistry. There’s a mild tension that hangs over them as their more intimate feelings for one another are implied via multiple scenarios, some more obvious than others, but it never reaches a boiling point of frustration. It’s all so stunningly simple and natural. Because Misaki was turned at a seemingly young age, her lacking maturity does surface at peculiar moments, yet even then she’ll whip out some wisdom to counteract that behaviour that makes you ponder just how old she really is. This coupled with Kuroe’s rather innocent and casual demeanour are quite complimentary to each others’ personas.
The illustrations are an aesthetic delight! I get quite weak at the knees when I discover manga that has panels positioned in perfectly organised and neat little rows, or artwork that is breathtakingly clean, crisp, and immaculate. Messy panels make it difficult for me to focus on the actual story as well as the action that’s occurring. On the other hand, uncluttered and cultivated panels wholeheartedly sweep me away, holding me riveted to the pages, even if the story isn’t so grandiose. As you can see below, Blood Alone definitely fits the latter.
Now for the not-so-lovely elements: the story. The first half of the story is quite good, mostly because it takes on an episodic approach. We learn about Kuroe’s past and a little bit about Misaki’s past, which is a very good foundation for an overarching plot. The episodic bits are essentially the cases that they solve together. Deliberately each case brings them closer to this grand, overhanging narrative, but then there’s a transition that’s painfully abrupt and jarringly confusing.
In the story, Kuroe has a loved one who’s gone missing. I really hoped that eventually everything would tie together and come full circle, leading us to this missing loved one. But that never happens. Misaki’s past does come up, but it’s completely unexpected. It doesn’t tie to the foreshadowing at all, but instead ventures onwards towards a whole new plot element that wasn’t ever introduced or nurtured enough to work fluidly for the series. To put it simply, the storyline goes bonkers with random twists and turns, making it unpleasant and distasteful.
I strongly believe that simplicity would have been the best route with Blood Alone. But instead the series tries to become an elaborate conspiracy of blood feuds from a thousand years ago, and some petty vengeance quest that’s excruciatingly forced upon the audience to further validate this imposing scheme. It doesn’t work and it could’ve been handled much, much better.
Aside from that, the finale of the manga is also brusque and unfinished. All of the exertion towards a pompous contrivance and in the end it never goes anywhere, literally. It’s like the story hit a brick wall, showed us some tender Misaki and Kuroe moments, and called it a day. Highly dissatisfying.
Overall, I recommend the first seven or eight volumes of Blood Alone, but definitely not the series as a whole. You just won’t enjoy what becomes of it, and it’s probably better to save yourself the frustration in the long run.