What They Say:
A breach between Earth and the netherworlds has opened up over the city of New York, trapping New Yorkers and creatures from other dimensions in an impenetrable bubble. They’ve lived together for years, in a world of crazy crime sci-fi sensibilities. Now someone is threatening to sever the bubble, and a group of stylish super humans is working to keep it from happening.
Contains the full series with both the English dub and the original Japanese track with English subtitles.
For the Blu-Ray release, we have a trademark 5.1 English release and a 2.0 Japanese release – a standard set up with no real issues throughout the track in terms of synching with the video, and the general settings didn’t need to be changed. There were no issues with the syncing, or with the audio quality as no adjustments has to be made on my stand settings even with the Japanese 2.0 set up – very general and acceptable.
Similar with the audio, the video is set in 1080p AVC widescreen and the combination of Blade Runner meets Men In Black style meshing worlds makes it a really unique show to look at using all styles of animation with the CGI and more standard designs, – the movement of the animation flows very well and was no slowdown in any of the episodes on the test release.
There was no packing for this test release; however, there is collectible packaging in the full release.
The menu consists on both discs clips from the show – on the bottom, there are your selections of Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras. All are easily selectable and like most Blu-Ray releases have no time delay when selecting a new menu – and again like most Blu-rays they have a popup menu that you access during your watching (though you can’t select extras) – overall easily accessible and beautiful to look at. The interesting thing is that this is one of the first releases in quite a while that allows you to pick subtitles as an option on the setup – this usually isn’t an issue but outside of movies, you don’t get them with as an option for the English dub (useful if you have hearing problems) so bonus points for that.
We get the usual set of extras from these releases – the clean opening and ending (a treat for the very fun ending in particular), promotional videos and TV spots, some specific ones for the DVD/Blu-Ray releases, the US Trailer and trailers for other shows that may or may not have had UK releases – the selection for this is Tokyo Ghoul A, Assassination Classroom, World Break: Aria Of Corse for a Holy Swordsman, High School D+D Born (review to come soon), Garo The Animation, Absolute Duo and Laughing Under The Club.
The more unique extras are basically a recap episode, called Episode 10.5 – which is basically a caller to a talk show named L (obviously Leo) recapping everything that has happened since he joined Libra – both praising certain co-workers and slandering other ones (Zapp :P), his relationship with White and his thoughts about the mysterious Black – it is just a recap episode in the extras however when all is said and done but takes a more unique spin on it.
We have two Funimation Shorts which are live action Q&As with some of the English voice actors – the first one is with Aaron Dismuke (Leo) and Ian Sinclair (Zapp) – questions involved are what the characters are trying to achieve, what they like about them, favourite side characters, the plot, adventure, episode discussion, and how they prepare for the roles. They do as much as they can in a short period of time which is nice to see.
The second one is pretty similar though mostly different questions – this time with Micah Solusod (Black/King of Despair) and Mike McFarland (ADR Director/Deldro) – what they love the most about the series, again favourite side characters, Rica Matsumoto’s directing style, the show in comparison to pop culture (Men In Black referenced here) and the differences between Black and the King of Despair. Again, short but definitely sweet.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Whenever you go into a series blind, you wonder where it takes you. Blood Blockade Battlefront is one of those series that I had no idea what it was about and literally you try it and see what it gets you. And what I got was a surprising little treat – a short, episodic series that has a ton of interesting characters that you just wish the plot had been extended a bit so was a longer series because otherwise this would have been a great series, compared to the good series it became.
Our main character, Leonardo (Leo for short) is seemingly your usual down in your luck young man, sending a letter to his sister about how life is in this city of no longer New York, now called Hellsalem’s Lot. Think basically Men In Black where humans and alien beings alongside other supernatural entities coincide, some easily, some painfully obvious yet no-one bats an eyelid. However, the poor chap gets into some trouble at his local diner when a super fast monkey named Sonic steals Leo’s camera, which also happens to be possessed by something supernatural. The strange this is, the monkey was moving way too fast for anyone to move, so how did someone like Leo able to see him?
This surprise is what catches the eye of Libra, the organisation that deals with any supernatural incidents in the area. We have their leader Klaus, a super-powered yet honest and gentlemanly man who you don’t want to cross, Zapp – a bit of a womanizing cocky so and so who seems more trouble than he’s worth, and Chain calm, calculating young woman with speed and agility to match the monkey. It turns out that Leo had made a deal with the devil so to speak albeit unintentionally – his sister gave up her eyes so that Leo gained the All Seeing Eyes, allowing him to see almost anything hidden/supernatural – dealing with the monkey, Klaus offers him a spot in Libra to make something of his life, and any attempts of being a normal guy is quickly shot out of a cannon.
Blood Blockade throughout the series introduces us to lot more members of Libra as well as many interesting barricades. In the above first episode, we see what appears to be the main villain Femt, but throughout the series he doesn’t have a huge impact as his role is simply to do chaos just for fun and is almost a set up for the true villain later showcased. For now though, BBB goes into an episode/monster of the week formula – which usually involves Leo suffering as unlike the others, he has no fighting capabilities which is actually kind of a unique spin of this sort of series as the main protagonists’ abilities is his eyes to spot and track, but not very useful in a fight, this is where Zapp and Klaus, in particular, get to strut their stuff with their Blood techniques – Zapp is a bit insufferable and seems to like tormenting Leo, but surprisingly it is more he is looking out for him…in his own unique way.
Klaus on the other hand is easily my favourite character of the show – this badass mostly human person has supernatural strength, but also very polite and cultured. A personal favourite episode is episode 3 as we get to see Klaus deal with a demon who loves playing Prosfair, a demonic style game similar to chess and he manages to hold off the demonic grandmaster for several hours despite the previous opponent trying to kill him due to shady dealings – in turn, he gains the respect and the power needed to help Libra – also introducing us to my other favourite character of the show, the very mysterious White – a pretty young girl who encounters Leo in a graveyard, claiming she is a ghost – yet seems very alive and we get a friendship/brother-sister relationship/potentially romantic relationship between the two, yet White is far more integral to the plot as we soon learn…
The one major issue I have with the series is the simple fact that in such a short span of time there are a lot of characters introduced who help the organisation and until about after half way do we get the true antagonism. We have Steven, Libra’s second in command who masters ice, K.K, a female fighter of immense skill and power, Dog Hummer – a handsome and fun loving guy…who is possessed by the liquefied body of Deldro, a former serial killer, the ironically named Blitz ‘Lucky’ Adams the vampire hunter and much later in the show Zed, a fish man who was trained under the same master of Zapp – which really sucks a bit because Zed had a lot of potential but barely got the chance to showcase anything due to how late he was introduced. The episodes all have mostly a similar formula – some crisis in the city ranging from drugs, kidnappings (usually Leo’s own), sadistic demonic girls wanting to find her boyfriend, underground fights…it is all a day in the office.
What isn’t a day in the office are those odd surprises that make the series much more engaging. There is one episode which is quite famous which has an alien named Nej who loves hamburgers and bonds with Leo – with Nej having a secret power which causes people to forget their memories when he is under stress. Unfortunately, two thugs decide to take advantage of this, which leads to this friendship which was really sweet become rather narmy, yet touching and upsetting by the conclusion of the episode. And going more long turn, we have White – who is slowly getting friendlier with Leo, and he gets introduced to her brother Black, who tells him about White’s weak heart – and is the key to the whole story. We did get hints of how the world came to be, but through flashbacks we learn about Black and White’s parentage, their real names and what was known as the Great Collapse. Leo’s eyes seem to be a way to help her, and turns out Leo isn’t the only person who did a deal with the devil so to speak….
The links with White and Black to the grand finale, what is the cause of her weak heart, and the grand battle with all of Libra involved – it takes a few surprising turns to say the least. The conversations between Black and Leo suggest there is more to Black, but the reveal of who he is means huge conflict for White, who is clearly troubled about what she has to do to live considering how close she has become to Leo – this is the final arc and the one true plot, and to the show’s credit, all the hints were there from conversations, to Klaus’ history, it really felt this could have been expanded on but was done in a few episodes in the end.
Which is a shame, because to be honest, what comes before the plot kicks in is still very good. One of my favourite series of all time is Kinos’ Journey which is very episodic in nature, but the one advantage it had was the fact that there was only one real lead in a short series and you get to experience the journey, the people she meets, and all the clashes she has to deal with. Here, there are so many characters doing other things that it does feel rushed. Now granted, some of the characters are not just likeable, but memorable in the short space in time they get (Klaus the big example) and considering the show is basically Libra dealing with supernatural attackers, it is forgiven because that is the nature of a series like this. Leo suffers a little because he can’t actually fight, but his eyes are the key for the end and in his own way has his badass moments. The rest of the cast vary – Zapp ranges from annoying and selfish to funny and badass (before the big reveal, Zapp meeting his old teacher and his interactions with Zed are some of the funniest – as well as his interactions with Chain (who sadly is one of the casualties of not enough screen time in the series along with Steven and KK).
The fun moments combined with the action scenes and the surprisingly tender moments (White and Black have them, the episode with Nej is actually quite sad) makes this definitely one I’m glad I saw. I just wish there had been a little more to coincide the whole plot (and the relevance of Leo’s sister explored more too – apparently this is done in the manga where White and Black aren’t even in it, so that makes them anime only characters and surprisingly well done ones) which as said, makes it a good series, but in the end not a great one. Still definitely worth a look.
BBB is a rush a minute, with high impact action, some comedy, tragedy and by the end, a surprising conclusion. With such an episodic nature, you may have wished there was more to the story at the end instead of the job of the day episodes. That said, without those episodes you wouldn’t have got a lot of the fun and sad moments, combined with glimpses of the true characters (which sadly don’t get fleshed out enough due to the length and nature of the series) and Leo developing quite well despite suffering from his lack of action, it is definitely a unique show and not one you should pass on despite the nature.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode 10.5 – Even These Are the Worst and the Best Days Ever, Funimation Short: with Aaron Dismuke and Ian Sinclair, Funimation Short: with Micah Solusod and Mike McFarland, Textless Opening Song – Hello,world!, Textless Closing Song – Sugar Song & Bitter Step, Promotional Videos & TV Spots
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: October 24th, 2016
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.