Considered to be one of the nastier shows out there, Blood Royale lives up to that reputation in one scene but otherwise turns in a very engaging show.
What They Say
A perverted pirate plunders the seven seas, armed with a torture chamber and his depraved imagination! He seizes wenches and plunders booty without mercy. Nothing is off limits in this bizarre excursion into a world of erotic peril!
The Critical Mass edition of this release retains both the Japanese and English language tracks as seen on the Anime 18 release, both of which are encoded in stereo at 192kbps. The two episodes feature a pretty decent stereo mix though there isn't a lot of real directionality to it since it's a straightforward dialogue piece for the most part. There's a general lack of action elements outside of the first few minutes of the show and the remainder of it has the music track taking up a good part of the soundstage so that it would drown out much of what ambient effects there may be. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout however and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released to video in 2002, the transfer for this show is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and looks really good and showcases the style used well. With a lot of almost artsy type of shots and colors used along with non-standard colors for a lot of it combined with the letterbox look, the show has a very strong and almost unique feel to it that helps it stand out well. Colors look great though there's some chroma noise in some of the reds and a touch of color gradation that's visible but presumably related to the digital paint style. Aliasing is pretty much as minimal as it can be and overall this is a good looking show.
This release is certainly quite appealing a it features a very detailed piece of cover art. Princess Milte takes up the entire piece here as she’s on her knees, rope around her neck, with just a bit of underwear on her as she looks scared and innocent at the same time. The use of just a little tear here and there in her clothes is spot on for adding to the overall atmosphere. The detail is really strong here across the board and into the soft background of the pirate ship side. The back cover has the same overall feeling as it uses the rough sketches for the background and a partial shot of Princess Sakuya along the bottom half, surrounded by a few shots from the show. The summary is one of the shortest I’ve ever seen as it’s more a tagline than anything else. The discs features are clearly listed and the technical grid is solid as it brings out all the right information. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
Using some of the traditional pirate elements, the menu has some of the animation playing in clips through a filter along the center while along the bottom there are the selections. A bit of the cathedral-style instrumental music plays along to it for a fairly decent length before recycling. Access times are nice and fast and the menu navigation easy to use but the disc ignored our players language presets and defaulted to English language only.
In addition to a brief video art gallery, this release also has two storyboard to animation sequences that show off various storyboards in progression next to the final animated sequence.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Blood Royale has earned something of a reputation among those who had seen it as one of the nastier shows out there and one that would be certain to make me squeamish based on past reviews and tastes evidenced through them. While they're certainly right in some respects as I did find a particular sequence squeamish, the rest of the show proved to be highly enjoyable even as it's not something I'm usually interested in.
On a dark stormy night along the coast, we're witness to two young women fleeing from some enemy and risking their lives along the rocky landscape. They find themselves suddenly rescued by a mysterious stranger to whom they give their thanks. This turns out to be premature as their savior is the infamous One Eyed Devil, a pirate captain feared throughout much of the lands and seas. He's been given the task of taking these two young women, two princesses from different lands as we learn, and turning them into fully accepting sex slaves. The captain has some very different interests in this life it seems.
As he needs the money to repair his boat so that it can set sail once more, he gladly accepts and takes both women into the lower rooms of his vessel. Down in these dark dank rooms where he typically tortures enemies and traitors, both of them are chained separately and kept relatively apart but still able to talk to each other. The captain informs them of their fate and begins their training right away. Princess Sakuya, a raven haired beauty, is almost too willing to do anything the captain asks though she's often unable to comply at first. During one revelatory sequence, he tells her to start masturbating but she cannot since she's never heard the term before nor actually done the deed. Her restricted but privileged life has kept her away from such things.
Princess Milte comes across similarly in experiences, such as when she's told to change into her bondage leathers she asks who will change her as she's never changed her own clothes. This amuses the captain to no end but also serves to push him further into humiliating them. While Sakuya does just about everything she's told and learns from it, Milte is the rebellious blonde who struggles against her captor. The captain plays them off of each other and works Milte over even harder, such as having his octopus reach in from below and have his way with her. Milte can't understand why she's treated thusly even after she starts to comply like Sakuya does. For Sakuya, everything that's done to her is a revelation and all the captains talk of the Land of Dreams that she'll visit through it is a huge incentive. Milte's disbelief keeps her from achieving the same though.
As the training continues, there are bits of conversation between the two girls as they have some down time and we learn what motivates each of them to do what they're doing. Sakuya in particular has some interesting reasons for it all and the way they converse and try to figure out what the best way to survive plays out in interesting ways. Their training as it goes along gets stronger and stronger as there's a mix of both sex and death to things that elevates the level of things to nastier levels. There's a particular sequence where Milte is tortured by pretty much the only really scatological sequence in the show and it's disgusting. But other than this scene, I found myself enjoying the way much of this played out since it's given enough of an interesting story to its background and the characters have provided distinct reasons for why they're suddenly going along.
What also helps make this show seem even more interesting is the great style given to it. There's some beautiful color choices made throughout here in regards to the backgrounds and the characters. A lot of it fits into the artsy style of directing with the inclusion of things like stained glass mirrors to provide lighting against very black backgrounds, allowing for very sharp distinct colors to be used. The mixture of the colors and darks with some of the CG sequences is just gorgeous in a number of areas, generally the ones involving the water and its reflective nature.
Blood Royale features one sequence that I will continually skip over, but the rest of it merits repeated viewings. This is an engaging domination set of episodes that uses a great backdrop for the characters and gives each of them their own motivations for what they do. Even better, the ending plays out to great satisfaction and even goes to the point of really encouraging a sequel of some sort. I had feared this title based on comments made but in the end it's something that while probably better suited for the hardcore crowd is something that I'll definitely recommend for its great designs, solid sex and interesting characters.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Art Gallery, Storyboards to Animation
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.