So some dudes made this short horror film titled Blood the Last Vampire which was instantly labeled cult. I don’t know why; it was probably the weird presentation of an otherwise simplistic premise. Some years later, some other dudes decide to make a series out of this and the result is Blood+. The tale of an apparently normal high school girl forced to take part in a sinister conspiracy that aims to make humanity food for vampire-like freaks.
To make a long story short, the series has a very good concept and interesting characters but its presentations lacks the stuff that would make it a masterpiece. Making yet again my infamous list of minuses I found in this, I hereby mention the following.
1) Long duration / Slow pacing. The show lasts twice as it should; it is 50 episodes long yet you can’t escape the feeling that it might as well be only 26. The reason is simple, many episodes feel like minor side quests or filler missions that in the longrun only manage to hinder the progress of the story with characters and storylines that lack excitement and tire the viewer. The first Full Metal Alchemist series for example had many fillers and minor side stories throughout its course, yet most of them were quite interesting and to the most part not boring. This is not the case here. We can always blame the directors of course, since one of them is responcible for the uber horrible “Persona: Trinity Soul”, and another one for the snoring “Loups=Garous”. How can you expect something good out of these failures of directing? What is even worse, is that you can’t remove those episodes either, because they are almost imposed by the personality of the main heroine.
2) Passive main character. … Who is a crybaby. A dynamic character would have done the same things in half the time instead of constantly doubting and holding back or crying in a corner. Although the basic motto of the series is to portrait a normal girl as she steadily becomes more decisive and active, that still didn’t leave the feeling that the main heroine is going around in circles. One moment she is trembling in fear, then she suddenly finds the strength to fight, then she reverts back to how she was… 20 times in a row. It gets REALLY bothersome. I mean, check out Hitomi, the main heroine of Escaflowne. She is still the average frail girl who keeps falling in love with every hunk she meets and does silly things all the time. She is not a fighter, and she is need of some guy to come and save her. Yet she is also dynamic enough to like her. She keeps taking risks, she is not afraid to speak her mind, she does some nice acrobatics like the athletic type she is and when she has second thoughts about something, you FEEL why she doubts. Saya in Blood doesn’t pass as such; she keeps flipping between kick-ass and crybaby with little justification other than being afraid to fight. Well it is excused the first few times but when it keeps happening over and over, then you are getting pissed with it.
3) Lack of focus on secondary characters. Saya and her nemesis get all the spotlight, leaving all the rest as almost unneeded background decorations. Although it is true that a great deal of characters are fleshed out throughout the series, none of them does something overly important to affect the story. Imagine an entire secret organization of supposed elite agents who in the entire series didn’t manage to beat the weakest monster, while Saya an otherwise simple-minded schoolgirl has slain a mountain of brutes. Why were they in the story then? Just to pay her traveling tickets and giving her a quest list? Nice NPCs they were… Her family ain’t better either. Her step brothers although keep interacting with her and even asking her to fight for her, by the end of the day don’t do anything active to affect the battles or the result of all this mess. Do you know how irritating it is to have epic level fighters who do nothing while the rookie squire kills the dragon?
4) Boring battles. Although there is a lot of action in the anime and most problems end up being resolved through fighting, almost none of the numerous duels and spars are exiting. Saya will just use her super blood to instant-kill any monster she cuts with her sword, after a simplistic battle choreography. And if she gets injured in the progress? Big deal; she immediately heals like Wolverine. In the meantime, all the rest of the supernatural people around her will be flying and shooting and blowing stuff up, usually with zero importance to the plot. And as I said, elite agents are completely useless at beating even the weakest of foes. Where is the interest in all this?
5) Huge mystery build up / disappointing revelation. For most of the show Saya will have amnesia (which is a bad trope on its own but I felt generous enough not making a different topic about it). She will keep traveling and fighting and investigating and having flashbacks in order to remember what had happened in her past. And we are kept teased with these vague images and hints and weird stuff, making us expect an amazing revelation. And when the revelation finally comes, you go all “WTF, after all this waiting that was all of it???” Seriously, the explanation of the grand mystery behind her past is simple as frakk, yet they make you think it will be something unimaginably epic.
6) Clean CGI. Although the animation is quite good and the sceneries are great to stare, the anime just doesn’t feel “dirty” enough to like it. What I mean is that the textures on objects like clothing or rocks will look sparkling clean, even when they should be worn-out from weather, bloodshed, dust, mud or generally affected by their surrounds. Even the wind blowing on the characters’ faces will feel more like a fan. It is as if the entire thing was shot with a blue screen and thus feels fake. Ok, maybe 3D effects weren’t as well developed back then. That still doesn’t excuse them looking more artificial than hand-drawn cells. Then again this is a studio I.G. Production; all its works feel equally plastic. It is fine when they were making sci-fi shows with robots and machines but when it comes to faces and people, they are simply bad.
7) Ever-present school uniform. Saya wears one most of the times, even when she is not going to school. Appealing to the otakus too much and you end up making it look too ridiculous to care about her personal drama.
8 ) Red lips. Saya has them. ALL THE TIME! They stand out. She is the only one with so much RED. They are annoying…
That’s pretty much all of it. The finale may also feel corny as frakk as well, but I am generous again and leave that alone. Corny doesn’t mean bad; just unimaginative. It is otherwise good corn quality.
And now the few things I have to praise about the anime
1) Gore. Buckets of blood and some deviant things here and there; nice albeit overdone.
2) Shadows. Good use of lighting by … not using it. Makes things pitch black and scary by being just black silhouettes with glowing red eyes.
3) Soundtrack. Exceptional use of violin and musical instruments in general; very good in building atmosphere. Too bad most is lost because of the boring plot and silly story. And the lyrics are to the most part ruining it as they are pop shitz. What in blazes is pop doing in a semi-horror anime? … Oh, right, it has a schoolgirl in it …
But hey, despite my negativity the anime still has a decent score. Here, let me make a chart for you:
ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 2/2 (good to stare)
Character Figures 1/2 (eh, generic … and those RED LIPS are overkill)
Backgrounds 1/2 (too shiny)
Animation 1/2 (lacks interesting choreography)
Visual Effects 2/2 (good use of shadows and darkeness)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (good albeit too melo at points without excusing it nicely)
Music Themes 3/4 (great use of instruments, with the pop lyrics making it sound a bit generic)
Sound Effects 2/3 (um, good I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (very interesting in concept)
Pacing 0/2 (veeery slow)
Complexity 0/2 (numerous sidesteps but useless in the longrun)
Plausibility 1/2 (ok, it is corny and silly at many points)
Conclusion 2/2 (pop corn but solid)
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 1/2 (besides miss RED LIPS and EVIL QUEEN all the rest go unnoticed)
Personality 1/2 (nothing overly great; even Saya feels like she flicks too much for no reason)
Backdrop 1/2 (pop corn)
Development 2/2 (takes its sweet time but yeah, lots of development for lots of characters … even useless ones)
Catharsis 2/2 (pop corn but solid)
VALUE SECTION: 4/10
Historical Value 1/3 (unlike the original movie, the series didn’t make any lasting impact)
Rewatchability 1/3 (too much dead time and boring events)
Memorability 2/4 (the gore and the melo amnesia story help a bit but not much in the longrun)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 0/1 (looks crude)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (good concept but too stretched and presented in a dull way)
Characters 2/4 (they are ok but lack charisma)