Trinity Blood Box Set (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, November 13, 2007
What They Say
Armageddon... The ultimate sin of humanity, perpetrated upon itself, which cast the shroud of death across the world centuries ago. And out of that lasting darkness, they emerged... From the legends of ancient times, they have been called forth into the world anew... Vampires.
Two races, Terran and Methuselah, human and vampire, are locked in a struggle for existence, trembling on the brink of war. Some seek the path to a peaceful coexistence while others pursue a dangerous shift in the balance of power... And the world's enemy, Contra Mundi, is starting to move. Cooperation and goodwill between the two races may be their only chance for survival.
Abel Nightroad, a touring priest for the Vatican, walks calmly where others fear to tread. A member of the formidable AX, he is tasked with the protection of the fragile equilibrium. Neither human nor vampire and with an awkward yet optimistic nature, this father is a force wholly his own. When a greater threat emerges, the enemy of my enemy is my friend... and Abel Nightroad seeks a safe path for all.
Contains all 24 episodes!
This boxset includes four collectible tarot cards featuring original Japanese artwork and a limited edition four-volume 24-page insert booklet filled with exclusive information, including Japanese cast interviews and concept art.
"Wow!" Those were the first words out of my mouth when I started up the show's 5.1 English dub. Not only is there an impressive amount of directionality, there is quite a bit of bass scattered throughout the show. It doesn't hurt that the prologue in the first episode starts things off with a bang- a couple of them, actually. Everything remains cleanly separated and well-balanced throughout with some ambient music finding its way to the rear speakers. I switched over to the Japanese stereo track for some spot-checking and found it very decent but not nearly as dynamic as the 5.1 English track.
Originally aired in 2005, Funimation presents the show in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 enhanced for anamorphic playback. After being somewhat under-whelmed with the video on Basilisk's boxset, I'm pleased to report that Trinity Blood boasts a much stronger transfer. Colors are usually bold, and there were no moments of artifacting in the sharp animation. The only problems are some minor mosquito noise and some brief moments of banding. These arose primarily in dark cg backgrounds with lots of movement such as the night sky during a few action scenes. Both of these issues are very rare though, and it does little to harm otherwise stunning video.
First, I need to give credit where credit is due. The artwork on the box itself is stunningly beautiful. The front cover features brilliant contrasts between pale characters centered around hues of crimson and black with an equally good-looking image on the back of the flap. All sides of the box are done in shades of red (as they should be since blood is in the title). The back of the box features a little embossing and a small strip of screenshots underneath the show synopsis which is in the same attractive, easy-to-read calligraphic script as the title itself. Abel stands dramatically in the background. It really is a triumph in design that had me admiring it for a few minutes after the first glance. The chest-like box opens to the side and you can pull out all of the individual pieces easily with the help a bookmark attached to the bottom- in theory, anyway. All of the original booklets are cased in a cardboard pouch much the same as other Funimation boxsets. The discs themselves are packaged in sets of two in cardboard cases. Everything features full-color artwork. There are really only two problems with the box design. The way it opens makes it wear easily. Also, the disc cases were made a little too wide so even with the strip, they're a little difficult to get out of the box.
The non-anamorphic, letterboxed menus feature full-color character artwork with the menu options blocked in a corner and some classical-style music playing over them. As is the case with the show, black, red, white and gold are the most prevalent colors. The text is very easy-to-read and a symbol beside the current choice lets you know what's selected. Access times are fast. It's a very attractive set-up that works well.
In addition to the textless songs and standard Funimation trailers, every disc has "Historical Artifacts." Although I'm slightly confused about the name, these text screens provide information to the series' numerous allusions to history, literature and religion that are very thorough. The only problem with them is that some of the entries seem like they're just filling up space. One entry tells us that the Pope is dubbed "Holiness" which is not only commonly known, it's explained in an episode on the disc! For all my griping, they are helpful. It would have been nice to see some behind-the-scenes stuff from either side of the ocean, but these are the only extras to be found.
Meet Father Abel Nightroad. On the surface, he seems like an everyday mild-mannered priest. In reality, he's part of the Vatican's special "AX" force, and his unique abilities are beneficial in this world overrun with vampire extremists. He's actually a "Crusnik"- a vampire that uses the blood of other "Methuselahs" for devastating attacks. Even though he's ready to fight when necessary, he prays for peace. It looks like his prayers are answered when dialogue is opened up between the vampiric capitol of Byzantium and the Vatican. This shaky promise for peace is threatened by the Rosen Kreuz, a fanatical group who hope to spark a war between the two and invoke a "new world order." Hopefully, the AX and their allies can save the day when widespread confusion and ignorance are just as threatening as the bloodthirsty rebels.
Anyone familiar with Gonzo's work will tell you that their animation is among the best in the industry. Sometimes the storyline takes a backseat to the visuals, but at least you're guaranteed some good eye-candy when you pick up one of their shows. Fortunately, Trinity Blood exceeds expectations in both animation and story. The layered backgrounds actually do an unusually impressive job at conveying depth from time to time, and the lush and detailed painted backgrounds are stunning. Some of the computer generated moving scenery seems a little simple compared to the static, but they blend well. The attractive character designs are varied enough so that one is never confused with another. This is important because the show has a large cast of characters that continually enter and exit the show. Character animation itself is strong. Whether walking, running or fighting, movement is smooth and believable.
Abel himself is one of Gonzo's greatest accomplishments in the series. In addition to having two sides as human and Crusnik, he also changes character quite dramatically depending on the mood. His design assists greatly in these shifts. During regular life, he's a little goofy but kind and his facial animation is a little simple but he has an exceptionally large mouth (often grinning) and open, round eyes. In serious moments, his face is more detailed with slight, squinting eyes and his mouth tightly drawn shut. It would spoil things to say too much about his Crusnik transformation, but suffice it to say that the audience can immediately tell which mode he's in. These changes instantly let the audience know where Abel is at, but they're not so drastic as to make him seem like a different character.
It's the writing that really elevates the show above being too cheesy or similar to other action shows with vampires and religious undertones. The Vatican is an independent City-state in the show's alternate reality so scenes within it feel more like a political thriller than religious exploitation. Appropriate background for every battle is often delivered during these scenes, and they let the audience know what's at stake and often how the conflict arose. While the audience is arrested by some stunning action, the plot helps keep them invested in the conflict on a deeper level. There is also great care and avoiding an "Us vs. them" mentality. Although a select few vampires act as villains, there are also some endearing vampires working for peace.
Almost all primary and secondary characters are given fantastic introductions that either give insight into their behavior and relationships or are just jaw-dropping and spectacular. Father Hugue's (AKA "Sword Dancer") first episode falls into the latter category. Sister Esther's introduction into the series stands out both in terms of emotional depth and because her story arc, "Star of Sorrow" kicks off Trinity Blood's story proper. Character development is satisfying as well. The most notable lackluster introduction would probably be Brother Petro of the Inquisitor Squad. He seems like a fairly shallow character at first, but becomes engaging by the end.
Trinity Blood's story is also remarkable for the variety it presents. The series changes locations and stories so often that it is impossible for the audience to get bored. Every change always fits in with and contributes something to the primary plot. The first half of the show is composed of single and two-episode story arcs and it becomes fun just to see the different places the writers take the story. One episode that particularly stands out is "Never Land." In it, the AX set out to investigate reports of Fairy-like vampires and find an island full of children suspicious of grown-ups. The second half of the series is made up of mostly longer story arcs as the main story is in full swing, but it isn't too disappointing as the show takes the audience through more intriguing narratives and locales. This all builds up to a rare ending- one that is both satisfyingly resolved and open enough to warrant a second series.
Honestly, I can't think of too many negative things to say about Trinity Blood so I guess I'll have to engage in nitpicking. The first episode which features a semi-cold opening is the weakest of the entire series and feels a little superfluous by the end. Also, the religious, historical and literary references are nice but occasionally go overboard. The characters come across the "Casino Inri" in one episode which seems like either a tasteless joke or random naming.
Trinity Blood bares some passing resemblances to other shows, but manages to set itself apart thanks to fantastic animation and an engaging story. The series builds up an intriguing central plot while simultaneously offering a variety of location changes and entertaining episodes. Gonzo portrays the world with stunning painted scenery and populates it with an insanely high number of memorable characters in both design and development. Funimation's boxset is also beautifully designed, and the video and audio on the release are handled well. Although not the cheapest title on the market and a bit disappointing in terms of extras, Trinity Blood: The Complete Series would make a good blind-buy for its in-depth storyline and well-done action. It's sometimes fun/ sometimes tense, but it's always enjoyable.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening,Clean Closing,Historical Artifacts,
26" Olevia 16:9 LCD HDTV, Sony Playstation 3 (upconverted to 720p through HDMI), Kenwood 550-watt 5.1 surround system
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
Running time: 650
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Trinity Blood