Sunday, May 31, 2009

Black Blood Brothers – complete – review

Directed by: Hiroaki Yoshikawa

First aired: 2006

Contains spoilers

Black Blood Brothers is a 12 episode anime series based upon a short manga series. It is a purely vampire based series and eschews fan service and such devices for a full on action basis. However, it perhaps lacks the drama – due to a lack of characterisation… but we shall explore that as we look at the series.

The show begins in Hong Kong. The presence of vampires was revealed due to the appearance of a new Bloodline the Kowloon children. Normally a vampire would have to exchange blood to create another vampire. The Kowloon Children turn humans by bite alone and became a plague in Hong Kong. They also can convert a vampire from another to bloodline to theirs by bite alone. We begin as Jiro and others fight the Hong Kong crusade, trying to defeat the Kowloon King.

Cutting forward 10 years Jiro and his brother Kotaro travel to the special zone a purposely built city near Japan that is based on Hong Kong and is a place where both vampires and humans, secretly, coexist. I say secretly because humanity have been told that vampires have been wiped out. Those in the special zone hide their nature and the Order Coffin Company keep an uneasy peace, helped by the senior vampires. The special zone is closed off to other vampires by a barrier that they need an invitation to cross.

Jiro is a hero of the crusades but has been in hiding. His brother is actually a reincarnation of his “source blood” Eve. She was killed during the crusade and was reincarnated as a generally powerless (though utterly physically resilient) vampire child. Kotaro will not regain Eve's memories or powers until he reaches a certain age and consumes Jiro’s blood (as the only child of that line). As such Jiro wants Kotaro to meet others and make friends before he sacrifices himself.

However the Kowloon children are not utterly defeated and Cassandra, a former friend of Jiro and Eve and betrayer of Eve it seems, intends to bring the bloodline back. This coincides with Jiro’s arrival. His only ally, at first, seems to be compromiser Mimiko, an order coffin company employee whose job is to mediate between humans and vampires. However, as things get desperate the company are forced to turn to the silver blade, hero of the crusades.

Jiro is affected by both water and sunlight – but he seems to be the only vampire so affected and, we assume, this is due to him being the only member of his bloodline (Kotaro notwithstanding). However, his sunlight allergy does seem to be conveniently forgotten in the centre section of the anime. He is stripped of flesh and becomes a walking skeleton when forced to be in the sea for some time – though this seems rectified quickly.

All vampires are violently allergic to silver – hence Jiro using a silver blade. The more powerful ones have the power of the hide hand – a matrix like ability to stop bullets in their path. Eye Raid is this series’ version of eye mojo but it can be used on multiple enemies. There is a suggestion of aversion to garlic and to the cross. Certain lines have magical powers and one vampire, Cain, can certainly turn into a giant wolf.

The vampire bite gives great pleasure and to be bitten, generally, is safe as it takes a blood exchange – as I mentioned – for most lines to turn someone… that is, of course, unless the vampire goes too far. We discover later that it is against company rules for a compromiser to allow a vampire to bite them but, if they are bitten against their will, they will retain their employment.

You’ll be forgiven for thinking that this is a complex story but, as much as it may appear so on the surface, the problem I had with this was that it was fairly simplistic in places. It hinted much but delivered little. There is something special about Mimiko, but what is not revealed, the majority of characters are two dimensional.

This is most annoying when it comes to the character Zelman Clock, charismatic and yet sociopathic (at least by his own admission), there was a flirtation with making the character interesting but it just wasn’t explored enough. Ostensibly he is the leader of the Coven – an evil faction – and yet seems allied with Kotaro because he is interesting. He missed the crusade and so is itching to get into action with the Kowloon.

The series had so much it might have explored and didn’t – but for what it is it certainly is worth watching. It just needs expanding. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Gabriel said...

I agree that the series was missing something and from Jiro's outfit it was like the creators were inspired by Alucard from Hellsing but failed in their flattery.

I agree that Mimiko had something weird about her, and I think the best way to go from here might be to do a Zelman Clock series and perhaps discuss his origins and the origin of the 'coven' per se. From reading reviews online he was the most popular character from the show.

I thought it was cool how the coven members dressed as traditional vampires ala Count Dracula with the flip collared capes but ultimately they were kinda sad and pathetic themselves...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Cheers Gabriel - the Zelman spin off would be a good idea