As a fan of the gritty anime Blood: The Last Vampire I was pleased to see Japanese video website Nico-Nico Douga recently began streaming Blood-C. They are streaming each episode with English subtitles a day after the Japanese television broadcast. The quality is good and there are no adverts. What isn’t so good is the anime. After watching the first episode I felt somewhat let down because the direction it took injected too much sugar into the franchise.
Considering the involvement of super-star talent from Production I.G. to artistic quartet CLAMP I was expecting a new take on the gutsy original but one that maintained the darkness, high-quality visuals, brilliant action and sword-wielding bad-ass protagonist Saya reborn under CLAMPs legendary ability for character creation.
My expectations were high considering the director is Tsutomu Mizushima who has worked on CLAMP title XXXHOLiC as well as the wonderfully surreal comedy Hare+Guu. Creative supervisor Jun’Ichi Fujisaku was the director of the awesome Blood+ another spin-off of Blood: The Last Vampire (which I like a lot). Meanwhile CLAMP’s Nanase Ohkawa worked on the scripts.
Unfortunately the result was something of a disappointment and I can see fans of the original anime being upset because Blood-C has rather bizarrely traded in its grit for an overload of the sickeningly-sweet clichés of moe. Now I know Blood is a license that can be remade in a variety of ways but taking an iconic character like Saya, a sword swinging school-girl vampire hunter, and making her analogous to the cast of Sora no Woto felt like a step too far.
Despite an intriguing start with the narrator introducing the nature vs nurture debate, what soon emerged was something far more reminiscent of Sora no Woto (which I despise). Saya is still an amnesiac school-girl with a vampiric nature but she is no longer a highly-skilled vampire slayer but more of a happy-go-lucky clumsy protagonist accompanied by two moe girls who crowed kawaii and kyaaah within minutes of their introduction.
All of this taking place in a pleasant town which has a permanent lilting piano score as backing… which wasn’t so bad if you like that sort of thing. I don’t. Not in the context of the Blood franchise at least.
The previous entry in the franchise, Blood+, skirted close to high school clichés in order to ground characters in reality and then undercut this normality with startling moments of violence from the very beginning in order to establish the dual nature of lead protagonist Saya and the global conspiracy surrounding her. Blood-C seems content to let the fairy-tale last throwing out the blunt violence and conspiracy theories in favour of high school froth until the final five minutes when we do see a battle.
The characterisation was underwhelming while the character design features CLAMPs preference for long-limbs but it all felt flat in comparison to the rich and varied cast in Blood+ (no camp French man or sinister English characters? Boo!).
In the context of the franchise it is totally jarring to have one of the toughest bad-ass heroines in anime screen history into a bumbling walking cliché.
So I was disappointed as a fan of the franchise. That said, this is only the first episode and things could still pick up. I remember being underwhelmed by Blood+ when I first saw it so I’m willing to give this a chance. Maybe I’m just overreacting…
Oh and the opening song has nothing on Hyde’s masterpiece!