Monday, February 16, 2009

Blood+ - 01 – First Kiss – review

Author: Ryo Ikehata

Translation: John Thomas

Illustrations: Chizu Hashii

First Published: 2006 (Japan) 2008 (USA)

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Suffering from extreme amnesia, high school student Saya Otonashi can’t remember anything from her life beyond the last year. Living with a foster family outside a military base in Okinawa, Japan, Saya’s attempts to live a normal life are shattered when a Chiropteran, a horrific vampire-like monster, attacks her. Saved at the last minute by a mysterious man named Hagi, Saya is presented with a sword that awakens in her a warrior’s skills and bloodlust, and sets her on a course that will lead her to the answers of her missing memories, and into battle against a race of creatures intent on destroying the world.

The epic adventure that began in the groundbreaking Blood – the Last Vampire and has continued through the worldwide phenomenon TV series Blood+ is brought to life in this all-new series of novels adapting the hit show. Saya’s journey of horror, magic, romance, and mystery will stretch across time and around the world, expanding on the television series with new characters, new adventures, and breathtaking action.

Featuring nineteen pages of illustrations by series character designer Chizu Hashii.

The review: I was rather excited when I found this, the first of four volumes, in my local bookstore. After all this was Blood+, not in manga form but novelised. The claim in the blurb, “expanding on the television series with new characters, new adventures, and breathtaking action,” added to this feeling.

If the series does expand upon the TV series, however, it does not do so in this volume. It is a straight lift from the TV series, almost blow by blow. Indeed it doesn’t really expand upon the characters’ thoughts and feelings that much more than portrayed in the anime – which was disappointing. There were little bits, for instance we discover that one of the brothers who are chevalier to Diva – Saya’s evil counterpart – was Nazi war criminal Martin Bormann , but nothing of any great substance.

That lack of expansion was annoying but, beyond this, was the fact that I felt the language used to be clumsy and perfunctory. Perhaps it wasn’t Ikehata’s fault; perhaps the blame lay in the translation and the nuances between Japanese and English. However, as an example this was from close to the start of the novel, when Saya is first attacked by a chiropteran and has cut a gash in her leg through glass smashed by the chiropteran’s howl.

“With this, she would surely be out of tomorrow’s track meet.

“Those kinds of thoughts ran through Saya’s head.

“But only for a moment.

“There wasn’t time to be thinking of the meet or for getting first aid for her cut.”

Okay, it describes what is happening but it seems so cold, clinical, with little regards for either the inner anguish of the character, the rhythm of the action sequence occurring or the flow of language. Or perhaps I am too picky. However it seems to me that if it is down to the differences in grammatical structure and metre between Japanese and English then it shows why either the manga form or anime form is superior – because the descriptive narrative is carried by an artist in pictorial form, rather than in language.

Still, it made this a complete chore to read and put me off enough to know I probably won’t be buying the other three volumes (unless I found them at a bargain price, in which case it would only be for completist reasons). You are much better off with the anime series. 2 out of 10.


The Dirge Of Gabriel said...

Hey Taliesen

I'm a fan of the original anime and I'm looking forward to the live action but this anime didn't cut it for me. I think it was an 'alternate' Saya timeline or something but what really got my goat was that every episode Saya would scream and carry on and not use her sword only to at the end use it to save the day (which she knew was the only choice) only for the next episode for her to do the same. It reeks of slasher film victim syndrome where the victim just acts like an idiot out of fear which leads to their downfall. I think I watched about 5 episodes before I gave up thinking it was stuck in this rut which is a shame. I think I encountered a similar problem with the Hell Girl anime. it fell into repetitiveness...

I think the only thing I enjoyed about Blood + was her guardian with the coffin on his back, now that was cool

Taliesin_ttlg said...

this isn't the anime but the novel and it fails because of bad writing... however, I could understand why you didn't like the anime - it did lose itself occasionaly - that said you were only 1/1oth of the way in.

The anime did have something to offer - though there were far too many fillers. It wasn't an alternate timeline but 30+ years later - though I don't know if you'd have established that 5 episodes in.

My recommendation - give the anime another go (and take the rough with the smooth, as there is most definitely some) but avoid the novel like the plague