What They Say:
Femt releases demonbeasts upon the city. The US presidential envoy to Hellsalem’s Lot goes missing, and it’s up to Leo and the other members of Libra to get him to his function at Federal Hall in time.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Blood Blockade Battlefront (& Beyond) is back for another season, and I think Shigehito Takayanagi and Yasuko Kamo really want you to know. That’s the first vibe I got when I sat down to watch the stylish, yet occasionally overwhelming 2nd season premiere to 2015’s surprise hit Blood Blockade Battlefront. Between its signature cityscapes, eclectic population, and toe-tapping soundtrack, Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond episode one feels a little bit…rushed. Covering new manga material on top of a bright eyed and bushy tailed new crew may be the impetus behind this rushed premier, but the time gap between the two seasons amplifies this wholesale approach even more so.
The first few minutes of the “Lights! Camera! Action!” (outside the ever-fantastic repeat OP performers Unison Square Garden) highlight this convolution in catch-up. We open with protagonist Leonardo Watch traveling through the busy streets of Hellsalem’s Lot much like the pilot episode way back when; only this time Leonardo is an understandably changed guy. Not so much jaded as simply bored, he laments to his sister about how even the abnormal can become normal with enough exposure. Luckily for us, things kick off with a bang rather shortly as the picture cuts from peaceful lakeside to Leo careening from the sky towards certain death. This is also the point where Takayanagi sends the audience careening into the cast of the show as well, sending character after character into Leonardo’s path. It feels more like a “Hey, remember this guy/gal?” over and over again until Femt’s admittedly brief serving of chaos is wrapped up. Had the seasons been spaced closer together, the feeling could have been more in the vein of “AH HELL, THE GANG’S ALL HERE”, but with this two-year gap, it lays out more to the tune of incredibly hast reintroductions. Luckily, once that is over it’s back to the good stuff, the groovy stuff!
In this first episode, Studio BONES really takes advantage of both the scale of the Hellsalem’s Lot and the uniqueness of its citizenship. Vast, sweeping skylines juxtaposed with the cramped back alleys give the city a sense of scale and variety not seen in many other shows. This depiction of a well-worn New York City has always been one of my favorite aspects of Blood Blockade Battlefront, and I am glad to see it’s scale being used right of the bat in this premiere episode. Leo is placed in charge of the head of a presidential envoy, passed to him by frenemy Zapp, and must get it to the federal hall in time for a public address. This was supposed to be Leo’s day off, but there is clearly no rest when you possess the living head of a foreign dignitary. Bobbing, weaving, and sometimes being thrown about the streets of Hellsalem’s Lot keeps the energy at a high and the stakes palpable.
There are more gangs in the city than you can shake a stick at and Leo must dodge them all with only the help of Libra’s few to get him there. This simple episode structure, get the package from point A to point B, lets BONES run wild with it and I’m all in on season two. The anxiety of losing story creator Yasuhiro Nightow and original director Rie Matsumoto has been mostly unfounded, which is a relief! For once, I can wholeheartedly look forward to new episodes of a series!
We’re back in Hellsalem’s Lot and the style is in full swing! Studio BONES frenetically explores the sprawling city and its various forms of destruction in a highly enjoyable, though slightly crammed, premiere episode.
Streamed By: Crunchyroll