Vampires are traditionally the villains in anime series and movies,
but not all of the time. Karin, the unfinished Geneon series
featured a family of (mostly) friendly vampires but that was played for
laughs. Black Blood Brothers is a more serious action show
that has a vampire protagonist who is, ironically, trying to stop the spread
of vampirism through the human race. This first volume (of three)
is a good start to what promises to be a fun show.
A decade ago the humans and vampires were at war, a conflict that nearly
destroyed both sides. This was caused by a new blood line of Vampire,
the Kowloon Children. In this world vampires play by Anne Rice's
rules, where a human has to be feed vampire blood in order to be turned
into an unloving creature. The Kowloon Children weren't like that
however. They were like the classic vampire who could turn a person
with just a bite. Not only that, they were aggressive and more violent,
and were set on taking over the world.
That's all in the past now. After the war it was thought that
none of the Kowloon Bloodline survived and as time went on that hope was
considered to be proven when none of them turned up.
Now vampires live openly together with humans in the Special Zone and
Jiro, a 100-year-old vampire who is near the last of his line, is traveling
with his younger brother Kotaro to the Special Zone for some important
but not fully explained reasons. They start their journey becoming
stowaways aboard a cargo ship and staying in their coffins, but they had
no idea that they weren't the only ones. Another group of vampires
are on the ship too, and soldiers from The Company are looking for them.
When Kotaro gets caught in the crossfire, Jiro has no choice but to arise
himself. Faced with an old and powerful vampire, the soldiers stand
no chance until Kotaro falls overboard and has to be rescued.
Once on the mainland, Jiro is aided by Mimiko, a Compromiser from the
Mediator department of The Company. Her job is to help vampires live
in peace and to keep their continued existence a secret from the rest of
humanity. Together the three people trek off to the Special Zone,
but things aren't that easy. When they bump into the vampire group
from the ship again, the Company men are in close pursuit. The Company
has some evidence that a Kowloon Child is traveling with this group, though
they don't know which one it is. To make sure they destroy it, The
Company has decided to wipe out the whole faction, and nothing that Mimiko
can say can change their minds.
This was a very good show. The action was fun and exciting but
the background story was also enticing. The show just gives glimpses
of what occurred during the Kowloon war and it's obvious that something
terrible happened to Jiro at that time. Just who Kotaro is, and why
he's so important, hasn't been explained, but it's clear that he's more
than your average vampire. The mystery added to the action makes
for a very enjoyable program.
Viewers have the choice between the original Japanese audio and an English
dub, both in stereo. I alternated audio tracks as I often do and
found both of the two choices fine. There isn't much use of the soundstage
with much of the action centered on the screen. There is a
bit of directionality and panning but not as much as I was expecting.
I was also surprised that there wasn't a 5.1 track for the English dub
too. There's a good amount of action in the show and it would have
been helped by a more engulfing track. There weren't any audio defects
worth noting and both tracks are solid.
This show comes with a 1.78:1 anamorphic image that looks really nice.
The colors are strong and the lines are nice and tight. Aliasing,
something that has plagued anime releases in the past, is very minor on
this disc and the only other defect I could notice was some minor banding
in a few scenes. Otherwise this disc looks great.
This disc comes with some solid extras. First off I was surprised
to see that commentary tracks by the Japanese production staff were included.
It's in Japanese, of course, but their comments are translated with subtitles.
I know this has been done before, the Revolutionary Girl Utena Movie
comes to mind, but it's pretty rare. Now I'm not a big fan of commentary
tracks by the English voice actors, but I found these to be a little more
rewarding. They could actually talk about the production of the anime.
The first episode has the two female leads being joined by the creator
of the manga, and though he occasionally would stop talking to watch the
show, it was nice to hear his comments on how he thought the program turned
There's also a clean opening and closing and some TV spots for the show.
This show has a lot of promise. The four episodes contained on
this disc cover the first story arc, and if the rest of the show is like
this disc, FUNimation has picked themselves a winner. Highly recommended.