Sunday, October 30, 2011

Anime Review: Blood-C

Back when the summer season was starting up this was one of my most anticipated series. I wanted to give Clamp another chance since this seemed like something they could do well, take an existing supernatural/horror/gore series, genres they're familiar with, and do a short series on it. The character designs looked nice, the trailers seemed interesting enough and I like a lot of series that Production IG has done. But, as a Clamp fun, well, this just didn't seem to work.


Summary: With no connection to Blood+ and only a possible tenuous connection to Blood: The Last Vampire, CLAMP takes a crack at Production IG’s franchise and turns vampire slayer Saya into an ordinary school girl who is the only one who can fight the Elder Bairns and try to keep the town safe. But the town is a strange, empty place and some of the people around Saya are stranger still, not that she has anytime to notice with the vauge flashbacks of strange memories she sometimes gets.

The Good: Once things are finally explained towards the end of the series Saya becomes an interesting character and I do wonder just what course of action she’s going to take in the upcoming movie (coming out June 2012 in Japan, it'll be a few months later still until fans in the rest of the world can see it however). The series also employs a trope that isn’t used too often and it takes a little while for the viewer to figure out what trope it is which is good, sometimes it feels like every big “plot twist” is too easy to spot these days so it’s nice to see some where it really is a twist.

The Bad: I never thought I would say this but 12 episodes was too many episodes for this series. The show tried to have nothing happen in the first three episodes to show how abnormal the town is but the fact is that almost all settings in anime, especially ones in fantasy, are strange so I didn’t even pick up on most of it until other people told me. I suspect that if the earlier episodes were really compressed, the pace of the later ones was sped up and the upcoming movie were combined into a 13 episode series it would have been much more tolerable and interesting. I only kept watching this show because NicoNico doesn’t offer it’s back catalog to nonsubscribers, if it wasn’t for that detail I would have dropped this show and waited for others to see if the characters got more likable or if the plot sped up/got interesting/actually showed up and said what was going on because that simply took way too long.

The Audio: Blood-C’s composer has worked on another CLAMP work before, X/1999 which was Naoki Sato’s first work actually. Anyone who has heard one of the X’x trademark themes (Sandame) will instantly recognize his hand in some of the more dramatic music during the fight scenes*. The BGM is solid, the OP is a mash-up of Japanese, Engrish and I believe French (and, if you can find translations, your first hint that things are not as happy as they appear), the ED is a ballad and Saya’s singing really does not work in this series.

The Visuals: The show certainly lives up to the blood part of it’s name, this is easily the goriest show I’ve seen the whole year and I saw Deadman Wonderland earlier in the year which had plenty of gory bits. Here not only is there tons of gore but it’s really well drawn gore, the artists don’t just splash red paint onto Saya, they make the blood run and clump the way real blood would if it was on skin or clothing, if it streaked or if someone tried to dry it off. Many of the monsters in this show also look quite disturbing one way or another (although some of them just look narm-ish) and I’m glad niconico was streaming the censored version, despite how bad the censoring actually was (black and white areas that would cover the entire screen without so much as a gradient). It’s easy to tell that CLAMP did the character designs since they all bear their (recent) trademark look of noodle people and as usual the men look more elongated and awkward than the female characters do. It’s clear from the visuals that this show had a high production quality level (screenshots of individual frames show that there was even some animation in the fights that was much to fast for most people to notice) and I wonder just how good the movie is going to look if this was just a tv show.

I was frustrated by this show, it had plenty of potential yet I didn't like the presentation at all. Still want to check out Blood+ sometime, the only reason I haven't is because it's rather long, but I really can't recommend this show to anyone since I disliked it so much. I do like slow paced stories when there is a good payoff and so far this story hasn't had a satisfactory ending.

*well let’s put it this way, this is the first time I’ve ever heard music by a composer, heard some other work by them and could tell it was by the same person. If someone as musically challenged as me can tell I think most other people probably can, it was actually a little freaky being able to tell.

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