Released on June 10th in the UK
Published by MangaUK
May contain spoilers
“Saya Kisaragi is a seemingly-normal girl who is overly clumsy and kind. She lives with her father, the head of her hometown’s shrine, and learns the “art of the sword” from him. When she is faced with various forms of “trials” that test her kindness, it brings misfortune for her being “overly-kind”. Against misfortune and for the sake of her friends, she maintains her kind heart and becomes stronger. However, in her journey, how will she fare? Why is she being tested?”
Blood-C is 2011 anime series created by CLAMP in collaboration with Production I.G. It is the latest installment in the Blood franchise (which includes Blood+ and Blood: The Last Vampire). I have never watched any previous material in the Blood franchise, so can only express my opinion of Blood-C in itself (without comparing it to predecessors or the overall story arc).
The first episode of this Anime series doesn’t hook the audience in enough. If I wasn’t reviewing Blood-C, or hadn’t purchased it, I may have stopped watching. However, the fact that it sets the scene well is what encouraged me to watch the second episode. It’s a tossup between engrossing the viewer from the very first episode (starting somewhere interesting in the timeline and explaining in later episodes) and laying down the foundations of the story so the viewer isn’t confused. Blood-C opted for the latter. We are introduced to Saya’s way of life and characteristics in general – school girl, honourable toward her father, polite and thoughtful toward others and the world around her (which is why she is often late for school). With that said there is a mouth-watering battle, at the end of the episode, which shows a more sinister side to the light hearted nature of Saya. At that moment I knew this anime was for me. Episode two continues in this format of storytelling which emphasis the whole “A sweet kind girl during the day and a ruthless killer at night” tagline behind the show.
Venturing through the episodes, I developed the impression that the story of Blood-C is a lot less important than the character development and the fight scenes/gore. There are a few loose attributes that remind us of an underlying story/message. These are in the form of: narration; a recurring thought it Saya; battles between Saya and the enemy; the message spoken by the enemy. Ultimately these are enough to remind us that there is in fact a bigger story to what is going on. Some peculiar moments foreshadow the section of the story which turns all that we have grown to love and understand about Blood-C on its head. This may be good or bad depending on the viewer. Developing the characters was the only way to increase the twist’s impact on the audience.
One of the reasons I kept watching is because I cared for Saya. She is rather cute, loves life (she sings on the way to school many times), respects her father, and enjoys the company of the other characters. That is only one side to her, however, at night she becomes someone to save the people of the town she lives in; someone much more important. Her athleticism is expressed even in day but is only brought out properly at night, by fighting enemies known as Elder Bairns. Other characters include Nene and Nono Motoe. They’re twins who are so in sync with each other that I guessed right in them being voiced by the same person (in Japanese and English versions). They bring a peppy, almost comical, edge to the anime. Fumito is a guy who looks after Saya and her Dad (Tadayoshi, he has an awesome name but we don’t see enough of him). Fumito makes all of their food and ensures Saya is happy (by listening to her problems and treating her). There are some other characters that become more important near the end of the series. Overwhelmed with good willed, moral people, I wondered if something was up…
A bit of a restriction in how much this anime can excite, build up tension, and continue with the momentum it creates is the way the episodes are structured. As a whole, the amount of equilibrium and inciting events are uneven/do not follow the traditional way of storytelling. Quite a few episodes were either fully focussed on expressing the kindness of the entire town or only had a fight at the beginning or end. This is what really made the twist abrupt. Although spanning a few episodes, which described the aftermath very well, the amount of violence and gore was, maybe, too much when compared to the rest of the series. I still loved the creative ways in which expendable civilians died but everything happened so quickly I didn’t have time to savour it. Also, upon reflection, I wish the attitude of the Anime adopted this very brutal, serious side earlier on. However, then the twist wouldn’t have been as surprising. It depends on the person but I believe the change in attitude (and the entire reveal) was so clever. Ultimately I cared for the characters so when this twist happened I was truly upset, confused, and in awe.
The artwork, animation, music, and voice acting were all of a professional standard. The music really stood out; when the signature theme kicked in I almost always got chills. The animation shines during fight scenes and the artwork amazes upon blood rapidly shooting out of an Elder Bairns neck. I was drawn to this anime because of the gore and the whole Samurai feel; the sense of honour and use of Katana sits very well with me. I’m pleased that the story and character development are not ignored though – too many horrors do, Blood-C is more of a thriller which is more of a reason to watch it.
Blood-C is halfway between a ‘stop and smell the flowers’ type of anime and an all-out gore fest. Character development and fight scenes ultimately take up the time that could have been spent on developing the story. However, the present story is good enough to keep the audience intrigued and shock them upon revealing the twist. Eden of the East was quite story orientated so maybe the structure used for Blood-C fits. Production I.G and CLAMP have come together to create a very professional Anime by paying attention to all the aspects of this form of Art. Fans of gore and Samurai should definitely give Blood-C a chance.