Ready for another cancelled title from the ole Jump archives? Well, with a title like this and a plot involving Vampires I can see why it was booted out. Look, I’m not the biggest vampire fan. In fact, I would go on record to say that it’s usually a rather poor genre. There isn’t a whole lot of interesting things you can do with a vampire story but there are a lot of pitfalls you can fall into. Mainly animal violence and sucking blood since they’re both pretty bad. This one is no exception.
Literally the first page begins with a cat dying. So now the manga has my attention but in a very bad way. This doesn’t earn it any points and instead is actually just getting it on my bad side. Immediately fans were probably thinking about cancellation. So anyways the cat dies and we see this monster in the background. The opening chapter works sort of as a one shot to introduce the world as we follow a random kid who will end up being a main character.
In the world of Blood Oath, vampires are actually real and a decent amount of them live on the planet. Most humans do not know that they exist though and the vampires have actually encouraged fictional representation of them like Dracula to make this seem even more unbelievable. It’s honestly a pretty good tactic. Most vampires just want peace but there are certainly those who dislike the humans and want to destroy them all. It’s a vicious cycle where both sides have big grudges. There is also a human group that goes around slaughtering vampires but they only appear for about a chapter so you can forget about them.
If a vampire goes for too long without drinking blood though, it will turn feral and become a monster that’s more like a hollow. These monsters are mindless and also become less physical so they actually possess people. The series can’t seem to decide if they’re spirits or actual monsters at times but it’s a different take on the vampires so that part’s interesting enough.
We’re then introduced to our two main characters. Shin is the primary lead and he has taken a blood oath to protect Ko, a royal vampire kid of immense power. Shin was raised by vampires and believes that there is a chance for peaceful coexistence between both races. That’s his complete goal and he will do whatever it takes in order to make that happen. In the meantime he does his best to take down all of the violent vampires who would do their best to oppose this goal.
As someone who has undergone the blood oath, Shin has abilities beyond that of a normal human like with his super punch. In general he’s also faster and more durable than a normal human which is handy in this world. Shin’s a good lead, there’s not a whole lot to him yet but it’s a solid goal and he does his best to achieve it.
The other main character is Ko and he’s basically a kid. I know with Vampires the ages are hard to confirm for sure but he acts like one so that’s what counts. As pseudo brothers he and Shin always look out for each other but Ko isn’t quite as forgiving as Shin is. Shin desperately wants peace but Ko doesn’t care about all of that. He just wants the two to be together and if someone attacks Shin then he takes it personally. Their dynamic is good but otherwise as a character I wouldn’t say he’s all that high up or anything.
One thing that the series struggles with right off the bat is the power levels. Sometimes Ko seems like he is the stronger main character and other times it’s Shin. Both of them lose in rather embarrassing ways early on but Ko is supposed to be a royal vampire that is way more powerful than the others so what gives? Well, it seems like he can only activate his true form after sucking Shin’s blood which is a huge weakness since that will weaken Shin in the process. Ko seems completely dependent on this.
That’s fine against the monsters but against the actual vampire villains then this gets a little more dangerous. For example we get two main villains by the names of Kaine and Haiga who show up at one point and they definitely have the edge in battle. Assuming that they aren’t the strongest out there then the heroes are going to be in big trouble. It’s not anything new for the genre as the heroes are almost always completely out of their league in vampire titles.
As a short series though, Our Blood Oath has to try and redeem these villains really quickly which is hard to buy. Take Kaine for example. This vampire loves murdering humans and even makes a big show of it. The reason is humans murdered Kaine’s whole family so that built a grudge quickly. So, how can this villain suddenly become a good guy within 10 chapters? it feels very accelerated as a result and I would have just kept Kaine as a villain. If this series had kept on going I’m sure Kaine would end up being a good rival character but it’s not as effective in a short series.
The battle with Kaine and Ko was likely the best one in the series so I have to give that a thumbs up though. The artwork here is really nice and that is certainly the highlight of the series. It’s all very clear with good progression through the attacks and you always know exactly what is going on. None of the characters look too similar so you won’t be mixing them up either. So just an aside but when the series is focusing on the battles then that’s when it is at its peak. There aren’t a whole lot of battles but enough where you know this is a Shonen right away.
Kaine’s partner Haiga seems a lot less villainous from the start but it’s not like he’s against murdering innocent humans. He does whatever Kaine wants and will do so with a smile. The guy’s loyal though and I liked him well enough. Haiga and Kaine had a good dynamic going and were fairly memorable which is important. The guy could also fight on his own very well too as he was easily overpowering Shin.
There’s a vampire elder named Alice who shows up for some lore and info dumping at different points. That seems to be her only role in the story and also to check off the classic trope of having a little girl appear who is actually hundreds of years old. She would need to fight to stand out more and so far that didn’t end up happening.
Finally you have Rangetsu who appears near the very end of the series. He’s a wild card since his motivations seem unclear. The guy has a ton of power though so everyone has to approach him cautiously. The human secret service was afraid of him and same for the vampires. The guy trained Shin at one point and seems to believe in the same kind of peace that the lead wants but he could be trolling. One thing’s for sure, Rangetsu is not nearly as merciful as the main characters and doesn’t mind torturing his opponents.
I wouldn’t trust him for an instant. His interests may align with that of the main characters at times but I can’t imagine that being anything other than temporary. If they ever have to rely on him that will really be the death of them. This is all setting up interesting seeds for the future but he doesn’t appear until the final 3 chapters or so, so you would have to hope for a sequel series for this to even mean anything.
There are a few other characters but that’s about the sum of it. Needless to say this was not a series that I liked. I would put it in the same ballpark as I Tell C but for completely different reasons. First off, throwing in the dead cat in the first chapter was just abysmal. There was no need for it. It’s only there for shock value and that’s not the kind of thing you need in chapter 1 or any other. This isn’t even a really dark series otherwise.
It maintains a classic Jump feel. It’s lighthearted but with its share of dark moments. The dark moments can be a bit much though. I mean, the main character’s family is murdered in front of him and same for one of the villain. At this point that’s old hat though and you almost expect it. Otherwise the darkest moment here is when Kaine locks a vampire child up with a human girl to the point of starvation. This ends up playing out with the human girl draining the vampire and turning into a monster.
It’s a really dark plot and one that felt out of place here. Did we really need to have a child fatality like this so soon? Additionally, this makes Kaine’s change of heart feel even more forced. If Kaine was already casually committing acts like this and bragging about it then how does a villain come back from that? There’s always the chance for redemption but within the span of a few days it’s hard to see that happening naturally.
I also dislike most of the vampire scenes. I’ve never liked the classic draining blood as they bite each other’s necks or chest as this series does. Ko needs to drain blood from Shin to fight and that happens several times. The villains do this to themselves as well, normal humans, etc. Honestly the series would be a lot better if you just stuck to the human kid trying to run away from the vampires. The guy from chapter 1 wasn’t half bad if not for the fact that he has the whole running gag with kids. That destroyed him and may be why the guy vanishes. I mean, he does appear from time to time and part of his suspicious actions were from being blackmailed but the character is at his best when the series isn’t trying to make him funny. When it does, that’s instantly game over. You can tell this series was not built for comedic dialogue.
The opening villain Kyoko did make for a decent threat though. Shape shifting is always handy in any kind of series and her plan was relatively solid. I would argue she probably should have just attacked Ko straight up instead of doing all of the planning but I suppose that’s hindsight. Getting back to the main point though, a vampire series is always limited because of the concepts that come with it. I could say to just not have any blood sucking series but then it’s probably not a vampire series anymore right?
So what would I have done differently to keep this one from being cancelled? Well, I think the lore should be cleaned up a bit. No reason you should have monsters, vampires, and humans running around right off the gate. Have it be plain Vampires vs Humans. The whole hybrid creature angle can be saved until the series is in double digit volumes or something like that. As it is there should be a ton to explore even without all of that.
I’d cut out the scene with the two girls who get locked into a room until one of them goes crazy. If the idea is to redeem Kaine and Haiga then you can’t have them do anything too disturbing or it just doesn’t work. Alternately your best bet is just to prolong the redemption arc for a long time so they have time to regret their actions and change sides.
That’ll also help keep the tone more consistent as you can’t have a super upbeat series where everyone is dying violently like this or stuck in such bad positions. This way the world won’t feel quite as hopeless. After all, the worse it gets, the more Shin’s dream will end up being seen as a weakness instead of a strength. It’s all good to want peace but if you’re watching both sides get slaughtered as this is being said, then it starts to feel empty.
I’ll at least give the series this, the bond between the two main characters as blood brothers is a good one. It’s also a nice twist here as they aren’t related by blood…but in a way they are since their blood is now linked. They do a good job of looking out for each other and that’s a fairly rare main character dynamic. We’ve seen brother and sister like in Demon Slayer but usually in Jump one of the brothers would end up being evil so this is a good twist.
It’s also at least one positive dynamic here since the series really focuses on how bad humans are as per usual. They’re shown to be traitors, sell outs, and are quick to turn murderous in the various flashbacks. It already looks like the vampires made the right move in staying secretly hidden so that’s why Shin has to think really carefully before he brings all of this out into the open. Our Blood Oath doesn’t leave you very optimistic about his odds, especially with a whole mercenary group that exists purely to destroy vampires.
Overall, There are definitely enough vampire manga as it is so it’s easy to see why this one was cancelled. The world building also just wasn’t on point. Within 10 chapters we’re already meeting royals and such when there should probably be more build up to this. How long can the series go on if the big shots are already walking around? I assume the only way is if the series went for a more dramatic/political angle rather than heavy action but that would bring along its own share of risks. Ultimately you have to be careful on striking the right blend but as long as this is a vampire series I don’t see it coming out in the green. Hope the next one fares a bit better.