Rosen Blood Vol. 1 Is a Solid Paranormal Romance With a Few Tricks Up Its Sleeves

Paranormal romance stories have long been a lucrative subgenre and have a solid place in our collective subconscious. Manga is no exception to this rule as it seems, no matter the demographic, there will always be readers who want to see romances between a beautiful human and something decidedly less so. Guys have their monster girls, and girls have their pretty vampire and werewolf boys. Rosen Blood Vol. 1 focuses on the latter, specifically a group of vampire boys and the helpless girls who fall to their charms. Rosen Blood doesn't take many risks with the paranormal romance genre, but it does have a few surprising turns.

Rosen Blood follows a young woman named Stella, who survived a tragic carriage accident while on her way to begin work for a wealthy family as their maid. She wakes up in a fancy bedroom and discovers that her saviors are four gorgeous men. However, she quickly learns that these men are not all that they seem and that there are some bizarre happenings in the mansion -- the same mansion where she now lives and works as a maid.

Rosen Blood bursts right out the gate with everything that a reader could expect from a paranormal romance manga like this. Charming, dangerous pretty boys? Check. A mousey, timid, yet beautiful, female lead? Check. An aching, forbidden love between a human woman and vampire men? Rosen Blood has that in droves. Also, being a publication of Viz Media's subsidiary publishing house, Shojo Beat, expect to see a lot of pretty artwork.

Pretty is an understatement. Rosen Blood is gorgeous. Everything from the character designs to the scenery is chock-full of fanciful lines, dreamy designs and beautifully detailed gothic backdrops. Fans of gothic romance will eat this manga up, but for other readers, Rosen Blood might be a turn-off with its reliance on predictable romance tropes and somewhat hackneyed cliches. For instance, the manga loves to fall back on the trope of the defenseless dame surrounded by men who get a little too handsy. One too many lines go into the territory of, "I'm a vampire but your blood is so intoxicating!" but it's at least good enough for an eye-roll and a snicker.

Another problem with Rosen Blood is the pacing. The story sometimes moves at such a breakneck speed that it does not allow the reader to relish the world it creates. Considering that this is a gothic romance story, for fans of such a spooky genre, one of the critical elements of it is building tension and atmosphere. While Rosen Blood has the atmospheric style, it lacks the tension-building substance of other gothic-romance horror stories. However, this is not to say that Rosen Blood is bad; in fact, it does a few things with its plot quite well. One of them involves how it plays with traditional vampire story elements.  Rosen Blood takes the vampire mythos and, in a surprising twist, turns it on its head. The result is an intriguing subversion of vampire lore, which is morbid but never takes such morbidity to the degree that it feels gratuitous.

As for everything else, Rosen Blood is a middle-of-the-road and by-the-book paranormal romance story that knows exactly what its audience wants and provides a generous helping. Rosen Blood is such moody, silly and stunning gothic feast for the eyes that fans of the genre will have plenty to sink their teeth into.


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