A series that doesn’t know what it wants to be – a school based comedy with violence, half and half in terms of comedy and gore? A depressing story with hints of the original Blood lore? My analysis – all the above…making it quite a mess.
What They Say :
The creators of Blood: The Last Vampire and Blood+ team up with renowned manga powerhouse CLAMP to inject beauty into a chilling new addition to the Blood line. Horrifying beasts with a hunger for human flesh prey on the citizens of a quiet town. In moonlit twilight, Saya slays the monsters and returns home drenched in blood. As the attacks increase in frequency and intensity, her enemies relay cryptic messages about a broken contract. Limbs are torn from flesh and skulls are crushed and devoured while the huntress struggles with paralyzing visions and gaping holes in her memory. When the humans Saya promised to protect reveal the sickening truth about her role in the violence, she learns her mission isn’t as clear cut as she thought-and her most sadistic foe of all is so close she can taste it.
Set in English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 Surround Sound, the sound quality is excellent, in both languages I didn’t need to change my default setting, meaning the Japanese sound release was as good as some 5.1 tracks I’ve heard recently, with the 5.1 being superb. Watching the first disc in English and the second disc in Japanese, I found no issues with the sound quality, never slowing down, errors with the lip flaps, and no problems synching in with the subtitles. In terms of video quality, with the CLAMP style animation being very resident of their Xxxholic anime release, the colour is plentiful and full of quality, with fluid animation with no slowdown or issues to speak of when viewing in a widescreen format. No issues again with the subtitles being out of sync and overall a very strong release quality wise.
Menu is fairly standard, both discs having the same image of Saya in her shrine maiden outfit looking menacing and stern on an Okami like green background. Your selections are on the top with Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras which are easily accessible both from the main menu and reverted to it from the show. Considering the imagery though and the chance from clumsy Saya to demon killing Saya, it does feel a bit lazy recycling the same image for both discs.
A couple of dub extras on both discs – Disc 1 had a dub commentary on episode 6 featuring Jerry Jewell (director) and Robert McCollum (Fumito). WARNING: Do not go into this commentary like I did without watching the series first – you will get spoiled badly. It’s actually a quiet commentary mostly as the two actually get to watching it, partly of interest and partly of confusion about what is going on. They talk about how surprisingly violent it gets in particular, explaining the details of the music, CLAMP’s involvement, the animation, their fellow voice actors, and as I said, some pretty big plot points which whilst not completely spoilerish, do give some strong hints (in particular on who the true villain is) of spoiling the ending.
The second commentary is on the final episode, which again the two people (Jerry Jewell again, along with Alexis Tipton(Saya) are quiet at times to watch the massacre get involved. Tipton knew what was happening before she worked on the show being a fan of the Blood series in general so it was interesting to hear her take on how this series wrapped up, trying to see if from Saya’s point of view seeing her friends getting killed, and what really happened right there in front of her. I won’t speak more than that as there are huge spoilers but I like Alexis’ input here and found it the better commentary of the two.
There are a few smaller extras on the second disc as well – we have the original commercials (several short Japanese commercials), promotional videos setting the timeline of Blood The Last Vampire to Blood + to Blood-C, and a trailer for the English language production.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Blood-C is the third animated release of the Blood franchise, which I’m only partly knowledgeable about – whilst I have seen Blood: The Last Vampire it has been a while and I haven’t seen Blood + at all. From what people told me, they are very different anyway, just with alternative versions of the lead character. And the lead character is probably the best thing about this series, as for the rest…well…
The first half of the series has a set pattern – we are introduced to our heroine Saya, a cute clumsy girl who has a good heart who gets distracted easily but at the same time is pretty athletic. By day she plays the schoolgirl, but at night, after some training from her father she is a swordswoman with a mystical blade which slaughters creatures of the night. This is literally the basis for the first half of the series mostly, with no real rhyme or reason to why these monsters attack initially, just that they are there. Throughout the day, we get introduced to basically most of Saya’s friends and what she does in her social life, with one of her friends Fumito, being the most intriguing running a coffee shop and being an old friend of her father’s despite looking way too young to be just a little younger. There is definitely a hint of mystery about him but from the initial way he acts you are unsure how involved he is in the plot at all and seems to be just the mentor to Saya. One of the positive things I will say about the show is how Fumito’s role is always hinted at throughout the interactions with Saya but is never obvious about what he is really interested in, and how by the end of the series his role does catch you off guard as you may not pick up on the hints…
At first, it seems like a day and night series, with Saya focusing on school problems, like how to avoid the gossip of her twin friends Nono and Nene, chat with her best friend Yuka, wondering how silly her teacher Kanako can be, be completely oblivious to the crush that the class president Itsuki has on her, whilst she herself is interested in the quiet tough guy named Tokizane. But what is interesting is that there are consequences in this series, in that people do die during the monster attacks – known as the Furukimono. Saya does talk to her father about the creatures she fights, and her father Tadayoshi does try to give basically the plot between the relationship between humans and Furukimono, but it really isn’t clearly told to a point that everything makes sense, all that the Furukimono need to eat humans so a pact was made to make sure they can survive without wiping out the human populous, which is a weak point against the series, as I’m not sure if you need to know enough about any of the other Blood releases or not, it isn’t explained well enough so it’s not a series that you can wade in whether you know about the previous shows or not.
After episode 6 though, things get a bit deeper. Some of Saya’s friends actually do get killed (and at times eaten, there is some definite gore here so not a show for the squeamish) and some of the characters above are more involved with this than you may think. Kanako appears to be a mentor as she seems to know about Saya’s abilities, whilst a mysterious dog (which may be an allusion to a certain character in Xxxholic considering the hints in both languages…) for advice who says he can grant a wish for her. These elements do add a bit of mystery but again, also aids for more confusion as so much is going on in her life, and these don’t really add more to it, because just some talks with her father combined with the fact some of her surviving friends are discovering her abilities makes this worse. It doesn’t help that during an episode where many of her school classmates are killed and eaten, Saya is still unsure in displaying her sword to save them so they can see what she really is, which both showcases the stupidity in Saya as a lead (not saving her friends just for the sake of a secret) and the classmates (not trying to escape the giant monster trying to kill everyone). When everyone but one of the characters dies, this revelation leads to basically Saya questioning her existence…and then angst’s about how she doesn’t know her mother’s name. Yes, it is relevant, but when I first saw this, my mind was really boggled – and it doesn’t tell the story well enough to really enjoy her as a character – sympathetic yes, but more in a confused way.
And no more does it get confusing when the last 3 episodes occur, with everyone dead, Fumito and Kanako become the mentors, in calming her and looking for information about the beasts. Unfortunately, the two things link each other and the real twist occurs. I won’t spoil too much but one of the common early themes was Fumito helping her out with a cup of coffee and a treat known as guimave. This is actually a plot point and links to the surprise when Saya’s emotions are crushed when everything she saw and everything she knew was a fake. Her life, her friends, her family, all a ruse because of who she really is. Again, it isn’t really explained well and I’m unsure if you needed to know much about the previous series to get more out of it, but it just really felt poorly told.
And that last episode…oh boy. All I can say is that it would be horrendous in terms of the gore fest…if it didn’t look so silly half the time. When the enemies are giant rabbit like things where they actually blend humans into a giant bag like a blender (with noises) it looks horrific and stupid at the same time. It actually ends with a cliffhanger as Saya breaks out of her stupor and goes after one person who basically set everything up and betrayed her, and from what I understand it is setting up a movie, but after watching through this series, I wonder how that would work, because the series itself was similar to those blended humans – quite a mess.
The story isn’t told very well – it’s hard to say if it fans of Last Vampire, of Blood +, because there is no real connection with vampirism bar Saya’s ‘awakening’ at the end and it doesn’t resemble much from Last Vampire aside from an alternative version of Saya. For me, the series doesn’t know if it wanted to be a school comedy or an occult story, because it tries to be both and it really doesn’t work. I did like the way the final twist was revealed and how rewatching parts earlier you can actually unravel the mystery and the true mastermind of the reviving of the monsters and the fact that every character I mentioned in this review does play a big part in the finale despite their either minor roles before or for…well, being killed…plus the animation style is very unique, being CLAMP, it works with the Xxxholic style, albeit a bit over the top to say the least when it came to the death scenes at times. And despite my complaints about Saya at times, she turns into such a broken character by the end that seeing her become all heroic, her mind clear as a bell and being completely badass was almost worth it, because the finale is actually quite decent.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t save this series from being nothing more than average – mainly because of how confusing they try and tell the story, how that the other characters weren’t really involved until the end and weren’t interesting until that point – Saya’s father and Fumito were at least interesting in their roles but all of Saya’s classmates were either on one extreme or the other, and neither really worked. Their involvement at the end is a surprise and seeing the opposite extreme to what they are really like was a shock, and the plot twist was very unique, but with how badly the story was told until that point, that was the only thing that really saved it from being a below average series.
That, and humans in a blender. Seriously – the horror part of the show was immediately stopped when that happened. How can you take that seriously and be disgusted at the same time?
Blood C is hard to describe and even harder to say who it is trying to target. Not sure how close it is to Blood+ but it is very different to Last Vampire and not for the better. Whilst the lead can be enjoyable and the way the ending becomes is actually quite excellent, everything up until that point is rather poorly told, the characters are not interesting bar Fumito’s involvement and the little bits of mystery they try and add don’t add anything to the tale. It doesn’t know whether it is a school tale, a horror story or both, and in turn makes as much of a mess as the monster feeding frenzy in the last episode. It ends on a cliffhanger, but have to have a good think to see if want to know because Saya becomes much more interesting in the last 10 minutes of the series. Not a recommended choice.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 6 and 12 dub commentary, Original commercials, Promotional Videos, English Language Trailer
Content Grade: C
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: June 10th, 2013
Running Time: 300 minutes
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.