Blood+ Adagio, Volume 1 (Blood+ Adagio #1) by Kumiko Suekane
Manga*Paperback, 200 pages
Published June 2nd 2009 by Dark Horse Comics (first published April 22nd 2006)
On the eve of the Russian Revolution, our favorite Chiropteran-hunting duo masquerades as members of Tsar Nicholas Romanov's royal chamber orchestra. Saya begins to uncover some of the strange secrets of the Romanov royal family and, of course, finds some hideous Chiropteran beasts who are doing a little masquerading of their own. Despite being one of the Chiropteran "originals," Saya's devoted her life to eradicating the wilder, more vicious Chiropteran spawn who prey on humanity, and this short series embraces the same mix of action, humor, and horror.
I adored the Blood+ anime series and ever since viewing it (multiple times), I've sought out whatever manga I could find. When I was able to pick up this book, I was thrilled. The artwork by Kumiko Suekane is wonderful. Delicate lines, expressive eyes, detailed clothing, the artist brings Saya and Hagi to life. Blood+ Adagio is a three book series and the first books--this volume and the second--both explore what Saya and Hagi did during the Russian Revolution. This historic time period was merely alluded to in the anime and I did wonder about those years these two traveled together.
Saya and Hagi go undercover for the Red Shield organization as musicians to find out more about the mysterious priest who seems to bend the ear of the Tsar's wife. Members of the chamber orchestra realize Saya cannot play the cello, but Hagi can. While he spends time with them, Saya goes searching the royal family home for information and clues. As usual, wherever Saya goes, there is sure to be a Chiropteran around. The artist doesn't shy away from showing bloodshed as Saya cuts down the monsters created by the blood of her twin sister, the evil and off-balanced Diva.
Diva doesn't really make her presence known until later in the book and the identity of the priest is revealed. The story itself is good, heavy on dialogue, and the occasional silly interactions between Saya and Hagi were cute and not cringe-inducing (like some other anime or manga series). The action picks up towards the end of the first book and Hagi is taken. Blood+ Adagio is a worthy addition to the action-filled vampire series. I'm glad I was able to get a copy.
I always wanted to see more romance between Saya and Hagi in the anime. At first glance this cover could be construed as suggestive but fans know how dedicated Hagi is to Saya and his intense look depicted here is reflective of their relationship. I like it, especially the spots of color.