Leonardo continues his daily life in Salem's Lot and some other characters exist too, but enought of that nonsense, time to cram all the relevant and actually important story into the last 2 episodes.
More enjoyable to watch than the first season I suppose, this time each episode focusing more on the inviduals who know Leo and their story, but don't get too exited now, the show likes to forget the characters in the very next episode and fails to give conclusion to the stories it tries to tell.
Story: Feels like world building for season 3. And very much like S1, all style and no substance. Oh and hope you like having vague power-systems, for the show explains nothing, not even what makes the powers different, how they came to be and what rules dictate which powers and why are the rules different for each power.
Animation is great, lot's of flashy movement and...blood.
Good sound, gives the show more energy.
Conflicting characters, Leonardo is still useless by himself, is Chain mean or nice? make up your mind show, what we learn about the characters is surface level.
BONUS: - Leonardo 'aka' b*tch boy. - Michael Bay movie of anime shows.
*Kekkai Sensen S1 spoilers*
Helsalem's lot is my city
I was always a bit confused a bit by the direction the plot of the original Blood Blockade Battlefront was taken in, for an anime that started out as a perfect example of pure action, fun, great animation, and brilliant characters in something you can actually relax your critical eye around it sure went down a dark path of edginess quick, didn't it? But luckily this time around the cute vampires are gone and the rest of what you love is present.
You have your generic looking protagonist in Leonardo Watch back at it again with his signature special eyes which are still only good for two things: looking up his enemies' defensive skirts and figuring out magic tricks. He does much less of this in this sequel though, as our brockesque lead takes a backseat to the more interesting members of Libra. There's an episode dedicated to almost every important member of the crew that weren't covered enough in the first series, and that's what the story consists of. The episodic style makes a comeback in this way. Every episode has a unique dialogue style fitted to the character the episode covers and some sort of enemy for them to fight. This persists over 8/10 of the episodes, where two-parters focusing on newer characters take up the other 4.
What mostly seperates this from its predecessor in terms of story is the way multiple interesting things are taking center stage at the same time instead of a battle or two happening in the background while the story focuses on the intricacies of leonardo's peace of mind. I do like how there's no overarching plot this time since B^3 didn't do that very well and it works better without it.
The attacks are still as cool as ever, but the first episode steals the rest of the anime's thunder in episode 1 when it coems to animation. Yutaka nakamura's signature sakuga style returns and god damn is it beautiful. The first half of the first episode is by far my favorite thing to come out in the 2017 season, and a contender for best animated sequence all year.
too brilliant not to put here.
Episode 5 had an almost redline-esque car scene, proving nakamura isn't out of bounds when it comes to trying new things. Simply beautiful stuff.
The sound is phenominal and it's one of the only shows this year that's caught my attention. The opening is so quirky and it fits, the ending as well, the OST is used exceptionally well.
I view the characters similarly to the way I did season 1, very creative cast each one of them different, a few newcomers that were fun to watch, but Chain, Gilbert and KK's characterizations shot up quite a lot for one. Plenty of others too but those took the cake for me in their episodes. Not all of them were balls-out action, though their animation budget wasn't wasted even for the more lighthearted ones and didn't fail to make them intense either.
Individually the stories make perfect use of their situations too. I never felt the need for more focus on anything else when chain was phasing through walls to deactivate a bomb or while gilbert was chasing down brainheisters. They're almost short movies, all in a line.
An extremely satisfying ending that still leaves room for more, tons of stuff about the world expanded on, more humor- totally worth it. I love this show. Not much to complain about besides episodes 8 and 9 being a bit weak.
To begin the review, let me say I was very happy with this season for a number of reasons, which will be explained in the review. This was probably one of the few anime this fall season of 2017 that didn't disappoint me. Then again Studio Bones most of the time is pretty awesome with their anime productions so I'm not surprised. And now, let the review begin!
Story- For the most part, this season was very episodic with the exploits of the organization Libra and with Leonardo of course. As some may have noticed Bones changed the director for the Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond, and thus the crazy story-telling has been dialed down a bit. But I think this helps the anime be a bit more focused with the story, especially given the fact that some of the episodes are character focused, like with Gilbert, Chain, Steven, Zed and others. If you don't mind a slow burner of a season, you'll probably like it, but I bet people will binge watch it any way since its only 12 episodes.
Animation- Studio Bones doesn't disappoint when it comes to the animation for this season. I'd say one of the highest points was when Steven and Klaus fought that Blood Breed together. That fight was dope, but its sure a good thing Leonardo can read their true names, otherwise they would have lost that fight.
Sound- The sound also helps the series a great deal, but its no surprise with Bones. The opening and the ending truly fit the theme for the show, plus I love that insert song during the part with Leonardo during the season finale.
Characters- Ah yes, the characters. They are easily the best part of this particular season, mostly due to the fact that during the episodic format. There's Chain and her history with the werewolf squad, Zed trying to get a job to help out, K.K. trying to go to her son's school on parent's day during her work for Libra, there's just so much character development, even with Leonardo and sister Michella, which is the big reason why this season is a big deal. Although the last few episodes shed some light on Leonardo and where his story will go, I like how its slow and steady, much like how Michella describes her brother like a turtle. We still haven't gotten any backstory with Klaus yet, but a character that important usually has their backstory connected to the main story, so its only a matter of time.
Overall- Even though this season feels different compared to the last one I don't think that's a bad thing. If a new director know what they're doing, they can do a pretty awesome job. I'm intrigued as well as hyped to see where they're going to take this urban fantasy series next. You can bet I'll be looking out for when the next season comes out, cause I need more!
This second season was heads and shoulders over the first season. In fact, this was what I had been hoping for and wanting to see in the first season as it explains everything which was not explained (but should have been) in the first season.
As the activities of Libra continue, each individual who makes up Libra has a life outside of it as well as what brought them to Libra in the first place. As Leonardo continues to look for a way to heal his sister, various monsters and Blood Breed are on the move and creating chaos in an already chaotic town.
Well, everyone should at least know the names of the characters by now, but this season breathes the life into them that the last season SHOULD have. We get to know the characters even more, particularly the ones who are the main focus.
Chain's abilities and life is explained, K.K has a domestic secret the viewer didn't know up until now, Zed's origins are surprising, Steven and Klaus used to be known as the "Fang Hunters" who took down vampires/Blood Breed before Libra even started, and Zapp is...well, still Zapp.
Black/William even makes an appearance, as does Michelle as a long awaited explanation as to what happened that day Michelle volunteered herself is finally explained.
While there are still many things unexplained (such as the origins of the Blood Breed (BB) and exactly what they're after, as well as the fact that it seems like some of them might just be trying to live "normal" lives), including what exactly the deal was with the final bad guy, this season does explain everything else...
...almost. Still no explanations as to why some characters can manipulate their blood, but based on subtle clues in this season, it's most likely attributed to them being a group of vampire hunters and as such their blood is special; not just so they can manipulate it, but in that the vampires/BB can't drink it (as seen last season).
However, the events which transpired around Leo and Michelle (as well as how he got the eyes) were explained a little more, as well as hints at Libra's overall objective and reason for existing.
Characters were explored, the animation and story felt cleaner, and the writers still managed to tie together seemingly insignificant incidents in the episodes (and series) into the story.
The format isn't as hard to follow as the first season, which is a plus. Everyone got a fair amount of time.
To be honest, this is what I had wanted out of the first season. I wanted a reason to like or dislike characters, I wanted to know what made them tick, I wanted to learn more about them, ect.
I also wanted to know more about the overall plot, the Hollow, and what exactly the Blood Breed were after.
Granted, I never really got my answer to those questions as this anime is very episodic in nature, but at least it gave us explanations.
...explanations it should have given us in the first season.
What would have worked better in this sort of format would be if they made this a 24-25 episode series/arc instead of two 12-episode seasons. That way, they can switch between their goofy and nonsensical episodes with little to no information of the overall plot from the first season (minus the last few episodes, which brought the "White" arc to a close; that would need to be woven in somewhere in the middle, perhaps), and the character-based episodes of the second season finishing with episodes 11 and 12 of season 2.
In this way, the viewers would have been able to learn more about the characters as the series progressed...and we'd know why Zapp constantly called Chain "dog woman" as it's explained in the second season.
Still, as a season, this one was ten times better than the first. Characters, animation, and episode-to-episode incidents were much cleaner. Sadly, I can't say much about the overall plot, but we did learn a lot about the purpose of Libra and a little bit more about what happened with Leo and Michelle.
In terms of the story per episode, I'd rate that an 8 or so (depending on the episode; some of them felt polished, while others didn't. I wouldn't go higher than an "8", that's for sure). In terms of fully laying out the last couple episodes in a coherent fashion, I can't really give it full marks for that as I was scratching my head a couple of times. Overall as a season, it still did a lot better than the first season.
It wasn't perfect, and I'm sorry but I'm still not a fan of that "let's bounce the images around the screen like a camera being moved from side to side and up and down to try and create dramatic effect", so no perfect marks there.
However, I'd definitely recommend this anime. Of course, that would require one to either watch the first season or read about it as there are a few references to it that create more of an impact on the scenes due to that.
In case anyone hasn't watched the original Blood Blockade Battlefront, here's the skinny; it's a heavily stylised series which can effectively be summarised as a blitzkreig for the eyes, in that it constantly pelts you with new and unnecessary characters and comedic sub-plots until it's easy to forget what the franchise is actually supposed to be about. The show's attitude to world-building, narratival construction, characterisation and character development are similar to my attitude towards cooking; don't spend too long on anything and hope it looks impressive enough to fool yourself.
Thankfully, this season Bones has decided to actually include things such as, y'know, character-centric narrative arcs, and BBB is all the better for it. Though we're still following Leonardo Watch, the young man who gained new eyes from an eldritch entity and found himself working for a clandestine pseudo-vampire-hunting group in a half-Otherworld New York (the whole set-up is really too bizarre and winding for me to go into more detail here) this time the extended cast is allowed to shine in episodes that explore their backgrounds and personalities. As we're still in very monster-of-the-week territory, there are very few arcs that survive the entire season, more-so vignettes and brief fly-by tours of supporting characters' lives, but it beats the hell out of the weird last-minute-profundity of season one, and I actually found myself being able to tell what the heck was going on most of the time, which helped immensely. Generally, when an episode in Beyond begins a story, it carries it to the end credits rather than dropping it halfway, as did the capricious child that was the first season.
Still, style remains the main draw of the franchise, boasting as it does a carefully-selected soundtrack, a mostly rapid pace and a really interesting way of melding New York topography and gritty underground-resistance imagery with sky-high monsters that, in the BBB universe, are actually fairly commonplace. Characters are, sadly, still more visually interesting than wholly compelling AS characters (and there at least three too many of them), and while the last two episodes are strangely engrossing for a series that finds more comfort in rapid car chases and exploding blood crosses, we're still not exactly looking at Fullmetal Alchemist here, folks. One thing that I would love to see more of in a prospective third season is more of a focus on interpersonal relationships, as the likes of Leonardo and Chain, or K.K. and Klaus, feel like they have more meat on their shared bones than has been picked at in the franchise thus far.
I'm not quite sure what makes fans of the series think of this as anything more than "just decent", but if you were a fan of the first season (or if you liked aspects of it but yearned for more focused storylines and character arcs) then you should be well-served here. '& Beyond' IS, whatever else I might think of BBB, a marked improvement over the first installment and if we can improve from here then I think this might really be a grower.
And please continue leaving the Black and White and Lord of Despair or whatever stuff for cameos and flashbacks, because they aren't needed and I really don't miss them.