Vampires, Mysteries, & Dangers, Oh My!: A Manga Review of Rosen Blood

Often times in the otaku community, you hear a lot of diverse thoughts on certain manga. Some positive, some negative, and some a mix of both.

Maybe it’s because fall is here or because of seeing vampire reads popping up on my social media feeds, but I decided to step outside my comfort zone (I’ve been doing  a lot of that lately as my review of Prince Freya showed) and try an upcoming manga from Shoujo Beat called Rosen Blood.

I confess that I am not a huge vampire fan nor have I read a vampire manga up to this point, but I had seen some talk about this manga over on Goodreads and decided I wanted to read it to form my own opinion. 

Rosen Blood is about a young woman named Stella who is in a horrible carriage accident and the only remaining living person from the accident. Unsure of what happened, as well as what she will do to fulfill the loss position of work (and income), Stella instead finds herself in a home with four handsome men who she isn’t quite sure what to make of. 

However, grateful to be alive, she asks for a position as a maid, but while these men may have readily accepted her offer, Stella begins to wonder about the odd comments these men make and certain strange occurrences in their home. Is telling Stella “I want a taste of you” simply a flirtatious statement? Or does something more sinister lurk under these men’s words (and in their home)?

I was not fond of Stella being a potential “boy toy” for the men around her. While there is definitely no sex or anything that physically hints at that, the suggestive themes were much stronger then I prefer to read. I desperately wanted Stella to stand up for herself and lay down some boundaries. Because of wanting those boundaries, I realized as the story progressed I was inadvertently starting to place them upon her and “judged” some of the men harsher than others as a result. 

I do very much ship Stella and Levi, one of the men in this household who seems to be more on the respectful side of Stella’s “boundaries.” (Though I could also be bias because I like Levi the most.) While there isn’t a huge foundation to their “relationship,” I’m definitely hoping there will be at some point. Levi seems to care for Stella on a deeper level and I hope that continues and strengthens.

While it is hard for me to overlook what I mentioned above concerning Stella as a “play thing” of sorts, I was pretty intrigued by the plot of this story. I found it to be very engaging and at times quite intense! There are some interesting dynamics that come in to play and though some parts sort of freaked me out when it comes to the man named Gilbert (see the screenshot below); it was again engaging and had me turning pages because I was genuinely curious to learn more about the men in this home. 

I think the mangaka did an excellent job of writing an overlying mystery and appreciated that Stella isn’t completely naive to some of those mystery elements for the whole volume. The vampire aspect plays a major role in that and seems very forward to the reader (not so much to Stella) as there is no denying the open hints that these men need blood to survive. 

On a different note, the art in this manga was incredible! It is very much some of the most beautiful shoujo manga I’ve read! I caught myself more than once admiring certain panels or pages because the artwork is so stunning! The mangaka has a very unique art style where it’s shoujo-like in nature, but has this underlying “darker” style and vibe to it.

Rosen Blood may not be a genre I typically read and has content that I’m not personally fond of, but the story itself was intriguing and featured fantastic artwork. There are good mystery undertones with a main character who may start out naive, but soon realizes things are amiss and uses her abilities to take matters into her own hands by making a positive difference (even if I am concerned about her well being and her “boundaries” being crossed even more than what took place in this volume).

I am cautiously optimistic as to how Stella’s realizations and decisions in the conclusion will impact more than just herself (and these men) in the volume that follows.

Rosen Blood, Vol. 1, published by Viz, is now available digitally and for pre-order in paperback.

Laura A. Grace

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