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by Rebecca Silverman,

Bloody Sweet

Volumes 1-2 Manhwa Review

Bloody Sweet Volumes 1-2 Manhwa Review

Naerim's life is anything but easy. The daughter of a single mother who works as a traditional Korean shaman, Naerim is relentlessly bullied at school by girls who are canny enough to evade the eyes of teachers. Naerim is seriously considering suicide when she accidentally wakes 584-year-old vampire Fetechou from his stasis. Fetechou quickly becomes attached to Naerim, in part because if he drinks her special blood, he can return to being human one day. Can an undead man make a living girl see that maybe it's worth pushing through the pain?

Bloody Sweet is translated by HKPP and lettered by Abigail Blackman.
This series has a content warning for realistic bullying and suicide ideation.


Going into Bloody Sweet, I expected to find a fluffy rom-com about a girl and the vampire she accidentally gets attached to. Instead, I found a story about a bullied high school girl whose bullies are smart enough to evade all of the checks and balances the school has put in place. When Naerim accidentally awakens a more than 500-year-old vampire, he becomes her emotional support system, living in her closet while she tries to figure out how to cope with her school life. It's a much darker series than its school bus-yellow covers would suggest, but if you're ready for it, it's also very much worth it as of these two volumes.

Naerim, the story's heroine, is an eighteen-year-old high school student, the only child of a traditional Korean shaman. Her mother's line of work makes her an easy target for the mean girls at school, and they do everything in their power to make her feel unworthy and like she doesn't deserve to exist at all. Things begin to change for her when she accidentally revives Fetechou, a 584-year-old vampire from Eastern Europe (they don't say Romania, but clothing in flashbacks about his life makes it clear that he's at least from its vicinity). Fetechou becomes bound to Naerim by a red thread that links to wherever she's bleeding, and with many thanks to her bullies, those threads guide him to her a lot. (And, yes, in a gag that only sort of works, a thread appears when she has her period.) Fetechou takes up residence in Naerim's closet and slowly becomes the only person she can trust and count on.

In part, that's because Fetechou is also dealing with his troubled past. Volume two digs into it quite a bit, and we learn that Fetechou's vampiric state is something he chose because of a desire for revenge, so when he says to Naerim that he understands what she's going through and how desperate her situation makes her feel, he's not just giving lip service. Fetechou also deeply regrets the steps he took half a century ago, and part of why he's drawn to Naerim is her special blood. He calls it "witch's blood," but he really means that she has inherited spiritual powers from her mother. Although Naerim resents her mother's work, seeing it (perhaps rightly) as the reason why she became a target in the first place, the thought that she could help Fetechou become human again by allowing him to drink it over time seems to be helping to change her mind. Both Naerim and Fetechou are struggling with emotional burdens that they feel ill-equipped to handle by themselves. Still, by the end of volume two, it's becoming clear that they may get through together…if outside forces allow it.

We don't know much about Fetechou's version of those outside forces yet, although the second volume begins to paint a disturbing picture. But Naerim's problems are all too apparent. She's the target of Jina, a wealthy girl at school who uses her perfect parental manners and familial wealth and prestige to make Naerim the class punching bag – literally, at times. Jina is perfectly written: she's pretty, knows how to use that to her advantage with adults, and is utterly shameless in her manipulations of the other girls and anyone she thinks she can use. She carefully places the blame on everyone else, playing the victim herself or pretending to be worried about Naerim if she thinks it'll make her look better. If you've ever found yourself on the wrong side of a Jina in your own life, she's all too familiar, the archetypical bully who always gets away with it. Narae Lee writes her with exquisite precision, and in all honesty, that makes her very difficult to read about. If realistic bullying and suicide ideation are triggers for you, this may not be the series to pick up because it can be visceral at times. It's a testament to how well Lee writes Jina and her groupies, but it is emphatically not easy to read.

Naerim's growth throughout these two volumes is based on how she sees herself and handles the bullying situation. In volume one, she tries to cope by rejecting her mother's religion and going to the local church, much to the delight of Hyoyeol, the pastor's son, who has a major crush on her that she's oblivious to. Later, her participation in the church allows her to more fully understand that religion isn't a good reason to harass someone, and it feels like her immersion in another faith helps make her accept her mother and the powers she's inherited, which is a lovely message. (And even if you don't interpret it that way, seeing Naerim be able to embrace two different teachings is still important.) Naerim also begins to believe Fetechou's words about being simply enough by being herself, which shifts into gear in volume two when she finally truly starts to buy what he's telling her. Naerim, she realizes, was never the problem: the one who is is Jina, who can't be happy unless she's tormenting someone else. It's not nearly as after-school special as I'm making it sound, and there's a realism to the situation, spiritual powers notwithstanding, that gives it an edge. Parts of these two books cut deep.

Narae Lee does a good job with the art, and the use of color in Fetechou's eyes in the second volume is particularly nice. All of the characters look distinct, something Lee honed in her first English-language release, the adaptation of James Patterson's Maximum Ride series. Colors are largely muted compared to many full-color manhwa, which works, allowing the bright red of blood to stand out strikingly. The translation reads well, too, sounding natural for the most part.

Bloody Sweet isn't a fluffy girl-meets-vampire rom-com. It has elements of that, but this is a series with a sharp edge, and even as one plotline is resolving at the end of the second volume, another is rearing its just as vicious head. This is a good series to check out if you like more bite with your vampire romances.

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. Yen Press, BookWalker Global, and J-Novel Club are subsidiaries of KWE.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B

+ Sharp edge, handles bullying realistically and draws some parallels between Naerim and Fetechou's experiences.
Bullying is almost too well done, some of the humor doesn't sit comfortably alongside the harsher elements.

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