Thursday, February 15, 2007

Trinity Blood – review

DVD

Directed by: Tomohiro Hirata

Release date: 2005

Contains spoilers

Whether you like this 24 episode anime series will depend, in the first instance, if you like Japanese animation. If you don’t look away, but if you do then this is an astounding example and – when it comes to vampire anime – it really is up there with Hellsing.

The story is complex and, being over a prolonged number of episodes, too convoluted to go into in detail but an overview of the state of the world, the main characters and organisations shows not only the complexity but should give a flavour of the excellent story-telling.

The Vampire RaduThe series is set in the future, centuries after an Armageddon destroyed civilisation as we know it. Out of the darkness came the vampires and a war was fought between them and the Vatican. As the series begins the world is mainly divided, in Europe at least, between the West which falls beneath Vatican control and the East which is now the New Human Empire, ruled by the vampires. England, or as it is now called Albion, is neutral.

Pope Alessandro XVIIThe Vatican is ostensibly ruled by Pope Alessandro XVII , but the pope is a young boy and two Cardinals, Francesco di Medici and Caterina Sforza, are the real power – though they are at odds. Francesco is the head of the inquisition and is vehemently opposed to the vampires. Caterina is the head of a shadowy agency called AX and wants to lead the Vatican to a peaceful co-existence with the Empire.

Sister Esther BlanchettThe series is concerned mainly with the AX agents and, in particular, Father Abel Nightroad and Sister Esther Blanchett a young nun who is recruited during the series. We shall look to Abel more later.

Astharoshe AsranThe vampires do not like that name and call themselves Methuselahs, referring to humans as Terrans. The Methuselahs are ruled by an Empress though the main two we meet are called Ion Fortuna (The Earl of Memphis) and Astharoshe Asran who is know as Asta.

A third group exist in the shadows, sowing seeds of mistrust between the main powers, they are the Rosen Kreutz Orden. The Orden use a shocktroop made of reanimated vampire corpses and one of their number, Deitrich, is able to control the bodies of humans and vampires, earning him the title of puppet-master.

The vampires are virus infected people. The virus forces them to crave blood but also move and heal faster than a human. The virus can be transmitted but they can also procreate. They cannot enter direct sunlight and their capital city of Byzantium has an ion shield around it to diffuse the harmful rays of the sun.
An injured Ion craves bloodWhen they are severely injured they gain an uncontrolable thirst for blood. They are able to injest human food and drink. Silver is dangerous to them. Destruction of the heart will kill them.

Abel in Crusnik formAbel very much comes across as a bumbling priest, who wants nothing more than 13 sugars in his cup of tea, but that is a ruse. He is a Crusnik, a genetically created creature (from before the Armageddon) infected with nano-technology. More importantly he is a vampire who feeds on vampires, though due to a great sin he refuses to kill.

Crusnik at 80%Very much like the Alucard character in Hellsing he reins his power in and releases it in order to do battle at various levels. In the series we never see him move beyond 80% of full power release but at that point he appears very much as a black winged angel, with fangs and a giant scythe.

Abel the bumbling priestThe series is beautifully animated but the real joy is the story which is highly political and examines xenophobia and fanaticism. There is very strong characterisation as the series progresses as well. It does suffer, occasionally, from a case of over-introspection which slows some of the pace but this excess is curbed in the main.

Demons!Being an Anime we do get the occasional demon and tenticaled monster, we also get – in the finale – a very swish looking flying car. Yet nothing seems too far-fetched as the story has grabbed you and dragged the viewer into the series’ world.

This is a fine example of anime and deserves a strong 8.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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