If not much seems to change with my posts on Blood Lad, it’s because not much seems to change with Blood Lad. I’m hard-pressed to think of an anime that’s been more consistent – and part of that, no doubt, comes down to the fact that the series boils down to an extremely simple, repeatable recipe – likeable characters speaking funny dialogue, cleverly animated, and a fun and easy-to-follow plot. Tscuhinoko omurice could hardly be so easy.
There’s really been one major character that hasn’t staked out a strong identity, acting more as a plot driver, and that’s Fuyumi. But with the arrival of Liz (and Braz, for a while) in East Demon World this week that took a turn for the better. This episode was easily Fuyumi’s best, as she slipped smoothly into the big sister role with Staz’ little sister. Mind you she still played the straight-man more or less, but showed just a bit of impishness as she sulked over Staz’ stubbornness with a compliment over her cooking and climbed into bed with Liz when there was a perfectly empty one two feet away. It’s not as though Fuyumi was especially hilarious, but more so than ever this week was likeable – and that makes it much easier to feel a rooting interest in seeing how her story plays out (though I’m still of the mind that Hydra is a much better fit with Staz).
Speaking of Liz, she was a character that had a chance to take the series in unwelcome directions – and in fact, I was very worried when I watched the preview after episode 6. Let’s be honest, the imouto bit has absolutely been beaten to death by this point, and their introduction into a series midpoint has lately ranged anywhere from irritating to downright catastrophic. But Liz nimbly avoids the worst traps of the trope – she is cute, undeniably, and also cutely badass (which can be even more annoying) but the balance with her is pretty close to just right. I can see her psyche as Braz’ adoring and taken-for-granted little sister quite believably in the way she behaves, and she expresses both her anger and her vulnerability in endearing fashion. I enjoyed both seeing her bonding sessions with Fuyumi and seeing her slowly begin to thaw towards Staz – the latter so enjoyable, in large part, because Staz never demeaned himself in begging for her affection or talked down to her as if she were an infant instead of a pubescent.
Further speaking, this time of Hydra, there’s clearly a bit more going on with her than meets the eye (as there always is). We have Braz’ telling comment about “just how important” Fuyumi is to her, for one thing, but it’s obvious that her seemingly endless concern for Fuyumi’s welfare doesn’t jibe with her self-admitted self-interest – especially given that Fuyumi is the main competition for a guy she’s clearly set her sights on. I’m not sure what’s up with the bell Bell gave Staz to give to Fuyumi, but there’s both a trick and an ulterior motive to it, I’d bet. I’m not convinced that Bell is directly tied in with the blonde dude (“He looks like a guy who listens to British rock” – hopefully Blood Lad will survive the addition of Kaji Yuuki)) who seems to have abducted Fuyumi, but I wouldn’t bet against that either. That turns of events is definitely the one that’s kicking things to the next stage – with Staz headed off to South Demon World, and Liz given her first real opportunity – and incentive – to stand up to Braz.