The first volume of the follow-up to Blood: The Last Vampire shows the promise of what could be a fun show.
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.
Contains episodes 1-5:
The Place Where It All Began
Beyond the Dark Forest
For this viewing, I watched the English dub. There is also a Japanese track, and both are only offered in 2.0. There are, however, English, French, and Korean options for subtitles. The 2.0 track sounds nice, with good balance between the channels and no dropout anywhere. That said, Blood+ is a show that could have benefitted from a 5.1 treatment. There’s enough action, with the promise of a lot more, that having front and rear channels could have really enhanced the battles.
For the most part, the video looked really nice, as the show is stylish, and the colors and lines are clean and crisp. However, there were a few times where the video began to look hazy, and not in that “it’s done for artistic reasons” way. It was a bit distracting at times. It is a shame, because when it looks good, it looks really good. I am hoping that this gets better as we go along.
The packaging for this release is nice, though unimpressive. The front has a picture of Saya in her school uniform charging with her sword drawn. Behind are some images from the show, some of which are from episodes not appearing on this disc. All this is set on a solid red background. The back of the case has a large image of Saya drawing the sword along the left, with the summary and more pictures on the right. An episode list and the technical details are near the bottom. The disc has a third image of Saya, this time swinging the sword. It is a simple design, but one that works.
I liked the menu on this release. The background shows a continuous loop of footage from the show, while the theme plays. The selections for Play All, Episode Selection, Audio Setup, and Subtitles are along the bottom in gold, with the highlighted selection easy to see. In reality, there is nothing all that special about this menu, but it is a nice change from the standard static menu that most anime get.
There are no extras on this disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Blood+ is a lengthy, gothic horror TV series that is based on the 2000 movie, Blood: The Last Vampire. While the events of the movie are only vaguely referred to here, Blood+ is a pseudo sequel, taking place in the modern day, roughly 40 years after Blood: The Last Vampire. This disc provides the first five episodes of Blood+, and show potential, but is not without its flaws.
To all outward appearances, Saya Otonashi is a normal school girl. She hangs out with friends, worries about her appearance, and spends her free time trying to make the school track team. However, a year previous, she was mysteriously adopted by her current father and cannot remember anything that happened before that, and she has to regularly visit a clinic for blood transfusions.
Yet, she does not worry about any of that. She loves her father as if he was her real one, and her two brothers are as much family as blood brothers would be. She fits in well at school and generally lives a normal life.
However, when she forgets her track shoes at school one evening, that normal life gets turned upside down. Returning to the school and to the area where she last saw the shoes, she meets a strange man, watches as a monster kills her English teacher, and takes the first step to reawakening dormant powers—powers that make her the only person able to hunt these monsters, the Chiropteran.
At first, Saya is unaccepting of these powers. Opening herself to them causes her to lose her regular consciousness and revert to that of her hunter self, a cold being with little regard for others. However, when her adoptive father, George, is attacked and hurt by a Chiropteran, she begins to willingly embrace that which only she can do.
Like many first volumes, what is on display in the first five episodes is little more than setting up the story that is to come. We learn some details about Saya’s past, why she is in the situation she is in right now, and what she is going to be counted on to accomplish going forward.
So far, Blood+ is showing the possibilities of a decent show. It has a really nice mix of action and humanization. Symbolic of that, the show uses a nice mix of atmospheres to enhance the various moods. Saya deals with the horrors of her abilities during the day, contemplates meanings of things during sunsets, and puts it all aside to fight at night.
In fact, it really hits upon the tenets of the Gothic genre pretty well. There is a monster (or monsters in this case), there is a hero (or heroine in this case) that has to become almost more monstrous while maintaining her humanity to be victorious, and nothing really bad ever happens during the day. As any horror aficionado know, darkness is ever the devil’s companion. While I would not necessarily say that anything has been scary so far, the Gothic atmosphere of the horror novels of the 1800s is certainly present.
But the odd thing about the setup so far is that it seems both rushed and stilted. As mentioned before, when the show starts there is nothing outwardly abnormal about Saya, and when she sees the first glimpse of the powers she possesses, she is understandably afraid of them. When she regains her normal consciousness to see the damage she caused while fighting the first Chiropteran, she passes out from stress.
Over the next two days, she learns a bit more about whom she really is, and never really puts up a fight about it. Even though the idea of fighting, as she admits, is repugnant to her, she seems to accept her fate pretty quickly. This was not at all what I was expecting for a series that spans fifty episodes. Personally, I would have liked to have seen a slower build to get to that point.
Even more jarring, though, are the holes in her past. After her first encounter with the Chiropteran, George is convinced by David, an agent in the government organization assigned to Saya, to fill Saya in on all of the details: who she is, what exactly happened during the Vietnam War, and why it was that she was dormant for 40 years.
Yet, we never really get those details. George passes on why Saya is living with them, but never gets into the past details. The first episode opens with the Vietnam incident that led to their current circumstances, but it is never explained why it happened the way that it did. As such, Saya is embracing her abilities with very little to go on as to why she can do what she does.
I fully understand her willingness to want to help George, but one would think that more information about what she can do would help her motivation. Certainly I expect this information to start to come out as the episodes progress, but I really think that slowing things down a little bit at the beginning at stretching her “normal” time out a bit more would have helped the proceedings quite a bit. However, at this point, it is still early going, and all of this could potentially pan out in the long run.
Blood+ does have potential to be a pretty fun show. It promises good amounts of supernatural fighting and not a small bit of the human side of Saya’s actions. While I may be a little frustrated with the pacing so far, what I have seen so far is keeping me interested to continue on, and I am open to the possibility of later episodes proving me wrong on the earlier ones. So on that front, the opening episodes have done their job. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Magnavox 37MF337B 37” LCD HDTV, Memorex MVD2042 Progressive Scan w/ DD/DTS (Component Connection), Durabrand HT3916 5.1 Surround Sound System