Rosen Blood Volume One focuses on establishing the characters and the concept of the series.
Rosen Blood Volume One
Written by: Kachiru Ishizue
Publisher: Akita Publishing Co., Ltd.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 7, 2021
The story begins with a girl named Stella waking up in a bed and being confused about where she is, since her last memory was of being in a carriage. In the room with her is a man named Levi. He informs her that her carriage met an accident in the middle of the road and that the coachman was already dead when she was found. Stella had been on her way to a job and can’t afford to hire another carriage to take her there. She asks Levi if she can work there, and she gets a job cleaning and taking care of the house. While he agrees to let her stay, he seems cold and distant at first.
Stella quickly learns about the others who live in the house: a flirty man named Friedrich, a young man named Yoel, and crazy sculptor named Gilbert. As a reader, I could tell right away that there was something off about these characters, especially when they kept referencing how her scent is irresistible or that they want to take a taste of her. While we get the occasional scene of Stella wondering about these characters, she doesn’t clue into much of anything until one of the characters finally blurts it out for her near the end of the volume… that they’re not human.
But before that, Stella learns that Levi is the one who paints the pictures that she admires in the house. At one point, Friedrich makes an aside to Levi that Stella bears a resemblance to a woman he once knew, whose painting he couldn’t finish because he can’t remember what her face looks like. But later in the volume, Stella and Levi become closer to the point where they kiss. It seems like the two of them may be developing feelings for each other. Fredrich catches on to them, and it appears that he may be plotting to try to get Stella for his own.
Stella learns the truth about the men living in the house after she and Levi get close. It’s even worse when she learns that they have to eat crystals in order to sustain themselves… and that the crystals are made from the blood of young girls. This shocks Stella at first, but then she suggests that maybe they could use tears, and she volunteers to serve as their food source. This may sound strange at first, but it’s revealed earlier in the volume that Stella is unable to leave the grounds, so it’s not like she can escape and go anywhere. Likely, she believes that she needs to make herself useful in order to save the lives of other young women.
Since Rosen Blood is a shojo manga, this series seems to be setting up a “reverse harem” concept, except using supernatural beings instead of regular men. Ishizue has already established an interest between Levi and Stella, and Friedrich having an interest in her as well. While it’s not blatantly shown in this volume, I think Yoel may have an interest in her as well. The main thing is Gilbert, because he is nothing like the other three. When I said he’s crazy, that wasn’t just a minor descriptor. He’s violent and attempts to attack Stella at least twice in this volume. I’m not exactly sure how Gilbert is going to fit into this “reverse harem,” though.
As a main character, there’s not a whole lot to Stella at this point. While she’s not as bland as some of the characters from “reverse harem” otome games, she’s nowhere near as interesting of a character as any of the guys in this story. For the most part, she seems to go with the flow, until she makes a shocking discovery in the house. But I sincerely hope future volumes will see some serious character development for Stella.
After reading the first volume of Rosen Blood, I feel like this is starting out in much the same way as other “reverse harem” titles (such as Kiss of the Rose Princess), although the main difference is having supernatural characters in this story. Hopefully, as this story progresses, it will start finding ways to distinguish itself from similar kinds of shojo manga. As it is, there’s not a whole lot here to make it stand out.
When it comes to the art, the one thing I noticed is that it felt like Ishizue spent time drawing the characters with a lot of detail at the beginning, but as the volume progresses, the amount of detail goes down a noticeable amount. I would guess that as the series progressed, Ishizue didn’t have as much time to put as much detail into the art in order to make deadlines. This decrease in detail is kind of disappointing, though, because the panels early on in the volume are very striking to look at. By the end of the volume, the panels didn’t stand out to me as much.
If you’re a shojo manga reader who also likes stories with supernatural elements, or you like the “reverse harem” concept, you might enjoy Rosen Blood Volume One.
The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media