The 2nd Dimension

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Viewing Journal: Blood+ (complete)

Series Overview
TV Broadcast Info
DVD Info

Overall= C-
Story = D+
Video = C-
Audio = C


Throughout the passage of time and the shifts in backgrounds, a particular war continues to leave its mark on history, extending its influence into the modern world. There are two major groups involved in the ensuring war. The first group consists of monsters known as Chiropterans who can change their appearances into that of human beings. They are actually immortals who feed on the blood of the living. The second group is an organisation known as the "Red Shield", formed to track down these monsters and exterminate them. Otonashi Saya is a high-school girl who lives a peaceful life with her family. The only problem is, she has no recollections of her life beyond that of the past year. However, her happy life will be destroyed by an event that will lead her to her destined fate. (Source: ANN)

Going into this show I had a specific set of expectations. First of all, it is based on an OAV from 2000 called Blood: The Last Vampire -- a short video about a bad-ass school girl/vampire slayer who goes in to a military base overrun with beasts called Chiropterans and takes them all out. It was heavy on violent action, but more interesting was that it hinted about Saya's dense background, even though it left the details to the viewer's imagination. So with the Blood+ TV series, I was hoping to learn more about Saya and was expecting similar dark, brooding drama, mystery, and action. Other than that is the fact that Blood+ is produced by Production IG -- a studio known for making high-quality animation. Unfortunately, given all of these expectations, I was gravely disappointed with the TV series.

If there is one word to describe this series, it would be "weak". From the story to the characters to the animation, the show promises powerful drama, intense action, and quality animation that it never delivers on.

To start with, the tone of the original OAV and this TV series are like night and day. Don't let the first episode, where you see Saya taking out a village in Vietnam, fool you. The plot here focuses much more on characters trying to cheer each other up than blood-soaked action. The theme is "family means more than blood" (Blood+), so in service of that there is a lot of "I'm no good" "No, you really are good" "Why would you say that" "Because we're family!" kind of dialogue. In some shows that can work, but here the characters are like that so often that it ends up seeming superficial and contrived, if not downright annoying. The version of Saya from the OAV may have been brooding, but at least she was strong. Here she's just depressing and weak.

And the characters aren't vindicated much with their strength on the battlefield. First there's Saya herself. When her sword is supplied with her own blood and she is surrounded by the enemy, her eyes will glow red and she will go from shy school girl to battle-hardened warrior -- at least that is what you would expect. But more often than not, her red-eyed self will be the same as her blue-eyed self. And -- equally annoying -- she constantly forgets to power-up her sword with her own blood... which seemes moronic given that her blood is required for her to be able to kill Chiropterans at all. And she may cut down one or two of the beasts, but more often than not she gets her own butt kicked. Equally annoying is Saya's Chevalier Kaji. He's supposed to be her protector, but he is constantly getting knocked down or throw aside or stabbed through the gut (he's lucky he's immortal). Seriously. It's pitiful.

As for the animation, I was really disappointed in Production IG here. The quality of the visuals is average at best and at times drops to below-average. Given this and some of their other recent works I have to wonder if the studio has simply lost its touch.

So maybe it's not fair to have such specific expectations going in to this series, but the fact remains that for me this show is a major disappointment.

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