Black Blood Brothers Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Black Blood Brothers

Black Blood Brothers Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     May 09, 2008
Release Date: May 06, 2008


Black Blood Brothers Vol. #3
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
nwelcome and unwanted, Jiro decides to flee the Special Zone with his brother. But Kotaro goes missing and chaos is fast breaking in the city. Cassa's nefarious plan is revealed at last: to search out the rumored Eleventh Yard under cover of the confusion she created.

As infected Kowloon blood spreads throughout the hospitals to spill out into the streets, the Company joins with the vampiric houses in battle against the rising threat. The newly Kowloon are attacking everyone in sight. Much blood will be spilled this day, for the evil of the past should never be resurrected.

Contains episodes 9-12.

The Review!
Cassa's plans go into full force as she intends to seek out the Eleventh Yard and deal with Jiro along the way.

Audio:
FUNimation has put through two pretty standard stereo mixes for this release and it's actually something of a surprise that they didn't include an English 5.1 mix since they tend to do that for the more action oriented shows. The two stereo mixes are encoded at 192kbps and come across clean enough and are generally problem free. There isn't a lot of real impact with the mix in general though some of the action moments work fairly well, nor is there any real sense of solid directionality to discern. The series utilizes the forward soundstage well enough as a full mix but it's one that you feel could have been a bit tighter and more engaging.

Video:
Originally airing in late 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Black Blood Brothers comes across pretty well overall and continues to highlight the changes FUNimation is going through. The series retains its alternate angles for the opening and closing sequences but beyond that, the show has a pretty good bitrate that helps to keep everything looking clean and solid. There are a few scenes here and there where the colors show a bit of noise in them, often in the blues, but beyond that there's really nothing to nitpick with outside of a few gradients and a bit of background noise at times. Black Blood Brothers has a good vibrant look at many points but it also handles the darker scenes quite well also.

Packaging:
The final volume of the series finishes things out in much the same way as the first two which is good as it has a solid shot of Jiro through which he pulls off the red outfit as well as a great shot of Cass with a menacing look on her face. The character designs look good and have a very clean and appealing feeling to them. The volume number and title is kept to the left of them in a non-distracting manner while the logo along the bottom is done cleanly with silver foil. Toss in a few logos underneath that and to the right and it's a good looking design overall. The back cover uses some of the dark reds from Jiro's outfit as its background color which makes it easy to read the text that covers the summary of the volume and the show overall. A few shots are included from the show as well as a decent section of character artwork. The bottom portion of the cover is rounded out with the extras listings, production credits and a technical grid. No insert is included but FUNimation has made some noise on the back cover about the original covers being included. The reverse side has two pieces of cover artwork from the original Japanese releases which are more cast shots and filled with a bit more color and white backgrounds. While I like the front cover as used for this release because it's simple and stark, any of these covers would have worked well in promoting the show and its varied nature with a dash more menace and sexuality

Menu:
The menu design is rather straightforward as it utilizes the same artwork as the cover of the release but with a bit more material in the background instead of just black. The colors look much more vibrant here and we get a fuller look at both characters which look great and everything fits with the instrumental music used to give it a menacing feel. The layout is kept minimal for the navigation with everything on a smalls trip through part of the center. Access times are nice and fast and it's easy to navigate without any issues. Due to angles and poorly labeled subtitle tracks, we didn't bother to check with player presets.

Extras:
This release once again has a strong set of extras which is quite surprising, but is also part of that whole value added idea that should draw people into purchasing if they enjoy it. Each episode has the original Japanese commentary track with it that has the creative staff going over the series production with anecdotes and more. Similar to the first volume, you cannot load these on the fly from the main program nor change to other tracks when watching it via the extras menu. In addition to those four commentaries, there's also a "sneak peek" for the show which runs about five minutes and serves to entice the viewer and the standard clean opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Against my better judgment, the final volume of Black Blood Brothers was far more enjoyable than I think it should be. The series is one that has been difficult in some ways because it's moving rather chaotically at times and occurs within a small timeframe. It also never helped that Jiro looks like a giant red Twizzler at times with his outfit. As the series progressed and the characters got a bit more time to work out some of the kinks, it became more fun which has culminated in this final volume that closes out the first storyline.

The Kowloon Children have been making their advances throughout the Special Zone for some time now and everything has slowly been revealed which has left only Cassa to come in and kick off the real show. Everything is suddenly about finding the Eleventh Yard within the Special Zone which does throw things off a bit, but Cassa is also there to have her final fight with Jiro so that she can put this part of her past behind her. She's still very much the wild violence loving girl that we've come to know and a good part of her just wants the thrill of the fight with someone as powerful and competent as him, even if she does refer to him regularly as a greenhorn due to their age differences.

What's a bit problematic about this set of episodes is that Jiro is kept to the background for the majority of the first two episodes and a good chunk of the third. Black Blood Brothers becomes more of an ensemble piece at this point as Cassa has laid the groundwork for her attacks to pressure the power people to give her what she wants. Spreading infected blood on a timed scale throughout the Special Zone has put everyone at risk and has made her incredibly dangerous since she's so unhinged in an amusingly calculated way. The lack of Jiro outside of a few scenes where he's trying to get things figured out stems from his belief that he needs to be away from everyone since he only draws attacks and violence upon them. That does work out in a way as it shifts the focus elsewhere and we get some really good bits early on with Mimiko as she investigates with Wong about what's going on.

Not surprisingly, a large chunk of these episodes revolve around the action once the Kowloon Children's plan gets underway. The Special Zone suffers a lot of attacks and the command structure finds itself being infiltrated as well. This actually gets the Lord Dragon to participate in what's going on by doing his best to save the Special Zone and that takes the show in an interesting direction once he unleashes his full power. The same can be said of Cain as he finally lets loose during his lengthy and numerous battles with Yafuri as the two of them play out the older experienced fighter against the brasher one who isn't quite so dulled by the relative peace of the Special Zone. Add in a few smaller things here and there with the supporting cast and a series of solid fights between Jiro and Cassa and there is plenty of payoff to be found here.

Black Blood Brothers does introduce some really good things in these last episodes however that does make me want to see more made. The first is that we get to see more of when Jiro first met Alice and how he came to become one of the Sage line of vampires as well as getting a lot more detail about what makes this particular line so special. These moments are scattered throughout the volume but there are some strong payoff sections as Jiro telepathically fills Mimiko in when everything gets really dicey. The other intriguing aspect is that the recently introduced Eleventh Yard gets talked about in the final minutes of the show and it really does cement why the Kowloon Children are so intent on getting into the Special Zone. This series does a rather good job of finishing out the opening arc of a larger story in a way that has me wanting to either read or see more of it. This is something I certainly did not expect going by the first volume.

In Summary:
Black Blood Brothers wasn't a show high on my expectations list but after seeing others talk about how much they liked it when they looked at it as a full series through the digital distribution method, I have to agree that it all comes together in a very engaging way towards the end. That doesn't negate some of the awkward storytelling early on with its pacing - nor Jiro's truly awful outfit - but it does leave me feeling far more interested in the series than I thought I would. This is the kind of show that needs more time to flesh itself out as well as to spend some time really being geeky and documenting what all the different bloodlines are like and detailing the world history with them a lot more. This volume in particular does a great job of setting things up for the future while also properly closing out the opening storyline that revolves squarely around Jiro and Kotaro finding a new place to live and moving forward together.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Commentaries, Sneak Peeks, Textless Songs

Review Equipment
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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