Diva's plans slowly come to fruition thanks to Amshel as she intends to sing the world into the future.
What They Say
Saya Otonashi, a seemingly normal high school student, suffers from amnesia and she can't remember the past year of her life. One day, after a man appears and gives her a katana sword, her destiny begins to be revealed. Soon she finds herself fighting the latest threat to humanity: Chiropteran monsters, ravenous immortal creatures that can change their form and disguise themselves as human beings. They feed off blood and hide themselves within the human world. An organization known as the Red Shield has been waging a private war to wipe them out and now the struggle has grown. Saya's journey for the truth has begun.
Sony's bilingual presentation of Blood+ is pretty decent and at times surprises with what it does with a basic stereo mix. Encoded at 192kbps, the show is often more about the quiet moments and dialogue than the big action pieces and these are well done. Placement of dialogue across the forward soundstage is clean and problem free and it has a full sound when required, particularly for the opening and closing sequences. When the action scenes hit, there is a decent amount of impact during a lot of them which gives it some added presence. They don't ring out like a full on 5.1 mix would but it was better than I thought it would be given the audio encoding. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback. Do note that the next episode previews were never dubbed in English for broadcast so they're kept to the original Japanese language when it comes up.
Originally airing in 2006, the transfer for this series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. Blood+ spreads its twenty-five episodes across five volumes with five episodes per volume. The release is fairly recent but the quality is surprisingly variable for a Production I.G. show. Early on the show looks very clean and crisp but as it progresses into darker scenes it starts to show more problems. There is a significant amount of noise in a number of scenes that's not intentional, i.e. not part of a flashback, and this gets very distracting at times. Not so much an authoring problem but a source problem, Blood+ has a fair number of visible gradients during some of the daylight scenes with the backgrounds such as the blue skies. There's also a strange problem, likely again source related to how it was originally presented, as when it comes back from commercial breaks it has a slight pause that makes it feel like the DVD player is stuttering. There are a number of very good scenes and overall it's not bad but it feels like this should have been much better looking.
Blood+ mirrors the first box set for the most part with the carton that has the removable top piece in which all the discs are held. The box is actually a fair bit bigger than the included discs because they also include a skull cap with the Blood+ logo on it which is actually pretty nice, though it does leave the box hollow afterwards. The box itself is done in red and white with an image of Saya's face on one side. The back side has a good full color image of Saya with her sword out and several character shots put together in a solid collage. The summary, split across the top of the box and the bottom half, covers a little about the show but also pushes the episode count and the visuals of the show. The discs extras are pretty clearly listed and the technical grid along the bottom is very clean and clear with what's involved in the release.
Inside the box we get three clear thinpaks with two of them holding two discs and the third one holding one. The cover artwork is all stills from the show itself, though they're not the best pieces as they seem to be zoomed in and the coloring might have been changed a little. There isn't any great connective flow among the covers to really tie them together either, unfortunately. The fronts do list the episode numbers and discs included clearly though which is a big plus. The back covers are all laid out the same with a breakdown of what episodes are on what discs with the episode number and title along with a line or two summary of what happens. The third volume adds a bit more with the extras and a look at the previous collection and the four out of the five discs that have so far been release. The reverse sides of the thinpaks have more shots from the show, one big piece panned over both panels, which don't look all too good as they're not really meant for this kind of format as they don't look that great. No show related inserts are included, though there is a manga preview in here.
The menus for Blood+ are pretty bland overall once you get past the unskippable parts when theh disc loads. The previous box set went with blue shaded menus while this one goes for red backgrounds and red borders for the navigation strip. The menus have different pieces of artwork and animation to them of various cast members and scenes from the show but there isn't anything really eyecatching here to draw you in. The menus are very simple with the episode selection and language setup as well as the play all feature so it's easy to navigate and quick to go to submenus. These aren't bad menus as they let you do everything easily enough, but they could have been far more creative.
The extras are included on the fifth disc here under the “Inside Blood+” section in which it has a series of interviews with the Japanese cast and creative staff. They're broken down into several pieces with different pairings and they run between ten and fifteen minutes on average, providing over an hours worth of material that helps to shine the light on what went into the series from this perspective. Some of it is interesting, but a lot of it is very familiar press junket kind of material that's a bit shallow and obviously all about the praise. It's not bad but it's par for the course for what these kinds of extras are like.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a nearly eighteen month delay between the two sets, Blood+ has finally finished out with another twenty-five episodes to tell the modern day story of Saya, Diva and their bloody and violent relationship that has spend a couple of centuries. Sony continues to have a real problem in handling anime TV series, though they do movies wonderfully, and Blood+ has suffered heavily because of its release format. With so much time between the releases, and singles stretched out for far too long, much of the enthusiasm has died away.
What makes it worse is that Blood+ is a fairly lazy and circumspect series in how it plays out. This set doesn't start off in a good way for people who have been away for awhile as it continues where it left off which wasn't a really strong end point and there's no quick recap here to help reacquaint yourself with the show. With the twenty-five episodes here, there are basically two arcs to it that deal with what's going on, and both of them move very slowly while being punctuated with moments of action that are admittedly exciting at times. The cast in general seems to be somewhat listless and without direction, which makes it hard to get enthused about it as they seem to sit around waiting for something to happen and then act.
The central changing point between the two arcs involves Riku, Kai's younger brother. Riku has ended up with Kai and the others with Red Shield and is spending his time with Saya. Riku is the most innocent of the adoptive family that came together in Okinawa as Kai has grown more cynical and worn while Saya is different altogether. He provides a good balance for things but as he has little to offer beyond being a good younger brother, he does tend to slow things down. Where the change comes in is later in the arc, after the destruction of the Red Shield and much of the group on the run on an ocean liner, Diva has decided to come and tease Kai about making him a chevalier for her.
Her real goal is far different though as she's decided she's going to force herself onto Riku in order to torment Saya but also to give birth to children that will help forward her end goal of changing the world into her world. Diva's act upon Riku is highly damaging for everyone involved and is certainly a game changer. The whole scenario pushes towards a final battle in the arc between Saya and Diva, along with Hagi and Diva's chevaliers, but they cheat us by setting it up as happening off stage and then shifts the story forward several months later without showing the real results of it. Having Saya and Hagi off in the darkness hunting down the chiropterans and Diva is all that we know they're doing, but the family bond has been hurt at this point and the remaining Red Shield members are in disarray and completely dispirited.
The second arc takes these fragments and tries to push it together again as they start to understand the scope of Diva's plans. Now that she's pregnant with twin girls, much as she and Saya's mother once was, Diva wants to turn much of the world into chiropterans and those around her have figured out the way to do so. Amshel continues to view Diva through the eyes of a grand experiment and is lost to what she's really going through, but it's something that others like Nathan pick up on. The various chevaliers she has are really quite interesting, though it's sad to see Solomon's story arc end so poorly considering how strong of a focus he was early on. Even James gets a bit more attention towards the end here as he's brutalized and reborn to destroy Saya.
The idea of using Diva and her voice as a catalyst for causing people to turn into chiropterans is a good one and fits in with the unique nature of their race and the power of Cinq Fleches as they utilize their vast food production network to taint various kinds of foods. Using that to introduce the right elements into people so they'd be affected by her voice is really quite the neat trick and it allows them the potential to create a couple hundred million of them very easily, which will in turn cause massive amounts of chaos and havoc. What makes the arc less than fun is that the cast is so dispirited throughout much of it, and many of them reduced in use and importance, that it's hard to get motivated behind it.
Saya is getting sleepy as it's almost time for another thirty year slumber. Kai is uncertain about confessing his feelings to Saya, but Mao does her best to encourage him even though she loves him and wants him to fall for her. Hagi is emotionless as usual, but David starts to fall into this category as well because of the loss of Red Shield. Even when he does take up arms again to help out Saya, it doesn't seem like his heart is in it and his feelings represent to me how this entire arc is. There are great moments towards the end when Diva and Saya really start going at it in the opera house, especially as the chevaliers battle as well until they realize their fight is pointless because the real show is between Saya and Diva. There's no hesitation in killing people along the way, some of which made me sad, but because of the loss of enthusiasm it really does feel like the show lost a lot of its steam early on, and only more so once they advanced the story forward several months and with all the downtime between arcs.
Back when the original OVA came out, I really enjoyed it and was excited about the idea of more Blood. That they tied this in to the OVA and expanded upon everything with the multimedia approach of manga, games and TV series, it's very expansive and has a lot to offer. The TV series fell short in really being engaging though as it really feels too long by an entire season. Because of the length it has, there isn't a huge sense of sense of urgency for a lot of it and that really keeps it from being as strong as it should be. When you look back at a chunk of episodes and realize that a lot of it could have been excised, it comes across as too shallow and empty. There are pluses to it, the Schiff turn out better than I expected and there are numerous really good scenes with Diva, but by and large Blood+ feels like it's fairly forgettable. And that's something that was proven by the eighteen month gap between releases as there wasn't all that much memorable once starting up this set. It's not a bad show, but it left me feeling fairly unimpressed.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Cast and Staff Interviews
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.