There will be spoilers for the manhwa series Bloody Sweet.
Trigger Warning: There may be references to gore, rape, prostitution, self-harm, suicide, emotional abuse, and bullying as it appears in the manhwa.
Shin Naerim's life isn't going so great. She's being bullied at school because her mother is a moodang (Korean shaman), and her only solace is online, where she writes web novels and keeps up with a blog. Though she is bright and cheery online, she cannot even speak in real life because it would only entice the bullies further. So instead, she spends her days silently taking every comment and nickname (“wig,” being the main one, short for “witch girl”), waiting for her high school life to finally be over so she can move on with her life.
Unfortunately, there is still more high school life to contend with, and next on the docket for Naerim is an overnight school field trip. As if it isn't enough for her to deal with the name-calling and abuse during the school day, now she has to do it overnight. Even more unfortunate is that there is an abandoned church nearby where they are staying. It is the perfect backdrop for more bullying of the “witch girl.”
However, these school girls don't know that just because a place is abandoned doesn't mean it is empty. While forcing Naerim through the abandoned church, they encounter a closed wardrobe with talismans on the outside of it. They make Naerim open it to reveal a man hidden inside – presumably a dead man as he falls out of the wardrobe on top of Naerim without a word. Of course, everyone is shocked and runs off, leaving Naerim alone in the church with the dead body. As luck would have it, though, it isn't a dead body but a vampire, and he finds Naerim delicious.
After taking a few licks of Naerim's wounds, she kicks him off of her and takes off back to where the class is staying, but even as she escapes the church, she finds that a red thread now trails out from her wound, seemingly to nowhere and she is the only one who can see it. However, it's not clear what the thread is until the man appears on the balcony of the place Naerim is staying. She realizes that the man, named Vlad Fetechou, is a vampire and because he drank Naerim's blood, a witch, he has now become her servant with a collar and red string that ties them together. If Fetechou drinks enough of Naerim's blood, he will eventually become human, and their pact as servant and master will be broken, but will Naerim survive long enough to help Fetechou? Does she even want him to become human in the first place?
I have never read Maximum Ride, but the same artist apparently made this. Since we are already talking about art, let me go ahead and say I love the art style. It is another one of those styles that is wholly unique to this particular artist and is so fun and lively that even the rough patches just add character to everything. If you are a stickler for art, I don't think you'll be disappointed with Bloody Sweet. There are some hilarious, heartbreaking, and beautiful panels in this that I don't think you would want to miss.
Now, let's discuss some story elements. First, I wish I could say that I found the level of bullying in this entirely unrealistic, seeing as no teacher takes any notice despite the severity. Still, I, unfortunately, think I might be wrong here. Naerim is viciously bullied to the point that she often wears bandages daily to cover up the wounds she receives from other students. This, of course, lends itself very well to the vampire part of the story, as it is because of these wounds that Fetechou is even drawn to her in the first place. Regardless, I think they overdo it a bit with the bullying and how inept the faculty is at figuring out it is happening.
Back to Fetechou, though, he is 100% my type. He's super playful and very cat-like, which, if you know me, you know I love in a male lead. He is super cute and hyper-protective of his master, which is everything I could want in a male lead. Unfortunately, he is not perfect, though he is pretty close. Part of the reason he likes Naerim so much is because she looks like his mother. Something about that trope has always given me the heebie-jeebies. I suppose it is innocent enough, but there is always something very Oedipal complex about it to me, but thankfully it isn't a significant point that is brought up time and time again. His mother is an integral point of his character development, but not the fact that Naerim looks like her.
I also like that their relationship grows and goes past the high school years. I feel many of these romance manhwa are extremely short, and we only see maybe a year's worth of time for the couple to develop feelings. So often, they are already saying they love each other within a few days, which is totally unrealistic. That is not to say this is hyper-realistic by any means. I mean, it is about vampires, for goodness sake, but I like that we see a wide range of time for the main couple and how their relationships grow and change as they grow and change. It's a nice change of pace from the hyperspeed romances I typically see.
The ending was a tad lackluster for me, though. I feel like it was missing something. Fetechou's whole goal is to become human again, but there is this throwaway revelation that all the years he has lived could catch up to him if he becomes human again. This means Fetechou could die the moment he becomes human again. However, that is never confirmed or really denied, and Fetechou does not become human again in the end. I really would have liked some clarity on that point. I think it would give some closure over Fetechou's decision to remain a vampire, and it would give us an idea of how their future might go after the story.
I really like Bloody Sweet. It's fun, depressing, and super heartwarming at the same time. Fetechou is eye candy, and Naerim is such a sweet character that you can't help but root for her. Of course, it has its downsides, but overall, it is a solid series. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a nice love story that doesn't overstay its welcome but still gives you plenty of romance to stew in for a while.
Have you read Bloody Sweet? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!