Saturday, January 1, 2011

Anime Review: Trinity Blood

I’ve read a good deal of the Trinity Blood manga and I’d seen the first few episodes of the series a few years ago. I remember that it was one of the first anime series to be put on itunes (so this was kinda a big deal, this was a few years before legal streaming took off) and I felt bad for not really liking the anime. It was anime after all and, as an anime fan, I should like it. These days however I feel confident in saying that yes, this anime wasn’t the best thing I ever saw and don’t feel guilty about it at all.
Trinity Blood

Summary: 900 years after a devastating war with Methuselah (often referred to as vampires), humanity is doing alright and the Vatican holds an immense amount of power and are the first and last line of defense against vampires.  Father Able Nightroad and Esther Blanchett work for the AX division of the Vatican and work with and against the Methuselah threat but an even bigger threat is looming on the horizon, the Rosenkreuz Order that wants nothing more than to see those two groups keep fighting against each other for eternity.
The Good: I'd forgotten since it's been so long since I've read the manga but I do like this series a lot of the time. The series never lets up enough on the action to be really boring and everything moves along at a breakneck pace. It's not just an action show though, there's backstory and, while it does use some of the more common vampire story cliches (like having the Church being the ultimate defense against the vampires, something that doesn't seem to come up in Western stories as much) the source material does predate the current vampire craze so that's not it's fault. You can certainly come across better examples of this genre but you can also come across far worse.
The Bad: 26 episodes is not nearly long enough to cover 12 light novels, especially a 12 novel series where the author died so it had a premature ending. I thought the anime covered just the second novel series, Reborn on Mars (which is what the manga does and that's already six novel's worth of material), but they threw in some stories from the first series and mixed them out of order to cover up the fact that Esther isn’t in those. Too much material in too short a time led to some weird pacing (none of the arcs felt like they had enough time to stretch out and properly explain themselves), a lot of stuff cut out and the ending comes out of nowhere. Fitting six novels into 24 episodes is tricky but can be done (I’ve seen other anime do even more) so I really don’t know why they had to throw in more material and slow it down (it also doesn’t help that I find Esther to be the more interesting lead than Able so the episodes that were thrown in for back story really bored me).
The Art: It’s probably because I’m used to seeing the manga art but I wasn’t really impressed by the designs here. The manga designs are simply more intricate than the anime designs (and the light novel beats them both out in terms of random detail, it drives the cosplayers nuts) and there were a number of conspicuous CGI moments (the anime is from 2005 but it’s not one of Gonzo’s better moments). I’m sure that people who haven’t seen the novels or the manga would have no problems with the design but I felt that the simpler designs took away a bit from the atmosphere.
The Music: I’m trying to figure out why Funimation didn’t subtitle the OP or the ED for this series, even if the ED had a lot of Engrish in it the OP was all Japanese. I liked the OP and the OP also did something a little different; most anime OP and ED are actually segments of a full length song and in Trinity Blood the first half uses one part of the full single and the other half uses the other part of the song (which I never would have figured out if I hadn’t seen someone else point that out in the first Black Butler series). I would imagine that saves money yet changes it up for fans, I wonder why more companies don’t do that.

Well, after watching the series I really wanted to pick up the manga again although that will probably take some re-reading (heck, for all I know the tokyopop releases may have passed the last scanlations I found) or even read the novels. But I just wasn’t impressed enough with the anime to want and see it again. Actually, due to the author death the manga might be my best bet for finishing the series, it’s a much more faithful adaptation and hopefully it’ll add onto the novel ending (since the author, Sunao Yoshida, did leave behind an outline for a seventh book) since the anime one felt awkward, didn't have enough time to pace the story right, left out a number of things that would've fleshed out the story more, and ulitamtely just unfinished.