Review: Blood-C

The Blood franchise started off with a terrible movie, which spawned a very enjoyable, long anime series (Blood+), which has spawned a second series, this time in collaboration with CLAMP and so was named Blood-C.  Since I really enjoyed Blood+ and have a long-standing love of CLAMP, I had really high expectations from this show.  I will say right up front that overall, I was disappointed, but not so terribly that I hated it.  I still enjoyed watching the show, though I found it problematic and had a lot of bleh moments.

First, the premise is similar to all the other Blood titles.  The main character, always named Saya, is a dark-haired school girl whose eyes turn red when she goes all vampire-esque powerful, who spends the show violently and often grotesquely killing with a sword the monsters who attack her and other humans. In this particular version, she is a cute and Pollyanna shrine maiden (CLAMP sure does like them) who spends most of her time enjoying the company of friends at her school, the two love interests vying for her affections, breakfast at a cafe across the street from the shrine, and after school violently hunting and killing “the old ones” who eat people.

The animation was interesting and well done, backgrounds and movement clearly have good production values, with typical contemporary CLAMP character designs (so the proportions are a little odd and lanky, and the coloring dark and flat, similar to xxxHolic), and the sheer number of bleep-bars over grotesque visuals were noteworthy in this show.  Nothing as awesome as Gantz, mind you, but gory nonetheless. I adore the opening song and visuals, though they’re a bit sexier and more powerful than the main character’s personality and actions can really account for in the show itself.  The episode ending is dull, but the song alright.

The plot reminds me A LOT of M. Night Shyamalan movies, where the writer clearly has a twist in mind that they’re trying to build up to, trying to create a foil between what things seem and what things are,  but exactly like Shyamalan sometimes it’s great (like in The Sixth Sense) but sometimes, it’s really bad, and gets old and bad fast (like The Happening and the Village). Blood-C isn’t quite as bad as The Happening, but it’s pretty down there. The directing is terrible.  Not in a shot-for-shot way (which is rather well done, actually). Someone needed to look at the storyboards for the big picture and say “hey, this is not a good progression. The tension is weak and predictable– the characterization is lacking and the episodes need more originality.”  So blame rests with the writers as well, sadly. They also use a cryptic voice-over and cuts to a dark room filled with Galileo thermometers to try and establish the intrigue and to foil Saya’s seemingly bright shiny everyday life, and to try and foreshadow the dramatic end, but they waaaaaay overused it and relied too heavily on it.  Also, cryptic, vague, musing voice-overs are not good storytelling, and get old fast.  They happen all the time, give us absolutely no information, are extremely repetitive, and frankly, I thought they made the show drag and felt heavy-handed.  Personally, I feel like it would have build up much more suspense if the viewer was in on the twist far sooner than the protagonist, because it seemed confusing and unbelievable the way it was all jam crammed in the end. There were vague hints that something was up, and that was interesting, but I think they could have done a much better job with a lot of things, overall.

Nifty thermometers + abstract voice overs /= good anime

Speaking of the end, it doesn’t.  The show leaves off on right after a CLAMP-tastic moment (it’s all fun and games until CLAMP…) that seemed like a bad knock-off of the tokyo arc of Tsubasa to me, and then the end is suppose to come in a movie to be released later.  Overall, the show seems like CLAMP recycled a lot of characters and plot points from their previous work and barfed them out, then some foolish executives/editors okayed them (though I will say I clapped and squeed when I realized the crossover, I was SO VERY excited).  I smelled Kobato remix straight off and did not like that. Alternately, CLAMP was  creatively stifled by the constraints of working within an existing genre, and it didn’t make for the lovely synthesis that I hoped for.

Anyway, speaking of Kobato, it’s similar in quality and plot progression were Kobato more gory than X. If you like CLAMP, you’ll enjoy Blood-C.  If you don’t have very strict plot demands, you’ll be able to enjoy blood-C.  If you’re interested in blood and gore and fighting chicks with swords, you’ll enjoy Blood-C.  If you just really like the Blood franchise, watch this.  If these things don’t apply to you, as I think will be the case with the majority of people, it probably isn’t worth your time to watch Blood-C. It’s one big lost opportunity, though I am looking forward to seeing the movie and the ending, though this time I have no hopes and so can’t be disappointed.

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