Blood Blade by Oma Sei - BLOOD BLADE © Oma Sei/Kodansha USA Publishing LLC
BLOOD BLADE © Oma Sei/Kodansha USA Publishing LLC

On Wednesday, September 20, 2023, Kodansha US released the debut episode of BLOOD BLADE, a horror action story created by mangaka Oma Sei. Episode 1 is split into two parts and they’re both available for free to read now on the website.

This manga is surprisingly also one of the rare few to be published first in English before the Japanese release. As Kodansha describes it on their website, Blood Blade is “Made in Japan, published in English! 

So what exactly is Blood Blade and what makes it stand out from other stories involving vampires and vampire teenage girls? From the first page of Episode 1: Part A, readers are informed that this is a story about Vlad the Third, who is widely known as Vlad the Impaler or otherwise known by his more iconic title: Dracula. It’s then revealed that the main character of this story, the man known as Vlad the Impaler, is instead a young woman with black hair wearing a black cloak and armed with a blade. Her name is Vladislaus Draculesti, and she’s a vampire who is bored with the peaceful state of the world, and is eager for some action.

Blood Blade 1 - BLOOD BLADE © Oma Sei/Kodansha USA Publishing LLC
BLOOD BLADE © Oma Sei/Kodansha USA Publishing LLC

We then meet our secondary character,  who we eventually find out is the granddaughter of Doctor Frankenstein. When we first encounter her, she’s a terrified blonde-haired girl named Clara, who is on the run in a wintery landscape only to be impaled by a mercenary’s blade. She is rescued thanks to the intervention of Vlad, whose powers make short work of the merc.

It’s immediately established that Clara isn’t human, as she survives what would have otherwise been a fatal wound. Instead, we find out that she’s a Golem created by an organization known simply as Cerberus. Then two more unnamed characters allied to Vlad are revealed as Vlad makes an offer to Clara: “Come home with us.” 

BLOOD BLADE © Oma Sei/Kodansha USA Publishing LLC
BLOOD BLADE © Oma Sei/Kodansha USA Publishing LLC

The second installment, Episode 1: Part B, continues directly after Part A within Vlad’s castle as we are then given some brief exposition and world-building as well as the stakes that the characters are up against. As Clara explains to Vlad, Cerberus is winning a war against the monsters in this world. They’ve already slain many creatures and are also responsible for the creation of human-monster hybrids for the sake of world domination. The stage is then set as the mercenary from part A returns to battle Vlad on her home turf, as Cerberus seeks to kill vampires most of all, and Vlad, who’s already eager for bloodshed, is ready to take them on. 

The art of Blood Blade, from the very first page, is filled with dark shadows, vibrant colors, and a double page spread with the title reveal – the kind of art that resembles what one might expect at first glance, from a Western-style comic. But that’s the catch! Immediately afterwards, readers are contrasted with the familiar black and white art style synonymous with most Japanese manga. Sei draws each character with precise thin lines with some subtle use of lines for detailing on clothes and character’s faces. They also artfully use lots of blacks to emphasize shadows, hair, and clothing, to bring this gothic fantasy world to life. Sei also balances the values out with some neat touches of white to bring out highlights and volume on the clothing and hair. 

Clara enters Vlad's throne room - BLOOD BLADE © Oma Sei/Kodansha USA Publishing LLC
BLOOD BLADE © Oma Sei/Kodansha USA Publishing LLC

 The line art is sometimes blended with clever usage of photographs converted into line art. It doesn’t clash with the drawn characters and the overall art style, while also saving time for the artist, so they don’t have to draw every single background. In some other panels, it is clear that the backgrounds are drawn, however, it has been done in a way that makes the difference barely noticeable while reading. This puts the focus more on the characters who stand out from the background art, all the while also complementing and enhancing the story itself. 

Although there’s only 42 pages available to read now in these two parts, there is enough information revealed for new readers to make connections about where the story’s overall premise. At the same time, it also raises some new questions, which add to the mystery of the story.  Questions such as, how did Vlad become Vladislaus? Is Blood Blade connected to the lore established in Bram Stoker’s original novels, or is it more inspired by the classic Universal monster movies? Who are these new characters? Where exactly is the world the story is taking place in? 

From interviews with Blood Blade’s mangaka, Oma Sei stated that “Blood Blade was heavily inspired by classic horror films and dramas.” and that they aim to “bring the spotlight back to these monsters of yore.” It seems that upcoming chapters of Blood Blade will feature some familiar and iconic characters and creatures from classic Hollywood monster movies. Given how we have “Dracula” and “Frankenstein”-inspired characters already, along with a direct mention of Doctor Frankenstein, only time will tell what’s in store next for readers. 

Blood Blade is available now on Kodansha US website, with more chapters releasing weekly on Wednesdays. Episode 1: Part A, is currently available for free, while Episode 1: Part B, while also free, is available only to those who register for a free Kodansha Reader account. Registering will not only allow you to read more of Blood Blade, but also give you access to other stories from Kodansha, plus the option to directly purchase e-books of Kodansha manga releases.

The first volume of the Blood Blade manga is scheduled to be released on February 20, 2024.


  1. I find it interesting this manga is actually published first in English. Though I am intrigued by this. Vampires are always cool and the twist of Vlad the Impailer being Vlad the Waifu

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