Recently we had the opportunity to check out Blood+ which turned out to be a rocking good time. Not far beyond that Trinity Blood proved its worth and so did Geneon's Hellsing Ultimate before they went the way of the dodo. If you haven't spotted a trend yet there seems to be a whole lot of anime around these days with vampires as the main characters. Whether they're good or bad, there's no denying the fascination we otaku have with the blood-thirsty undead. And cat girls, but we're not talking about them today.
FUNimation's latest series to hit store shelves finds itself nestled firmly in that oh-so adored genre. Black Blood Brothers brings us to a world filled with vampires, humans, and something else born in the interim. While the series takes place at a certain point in history there's actually a lot of background to the show that helps to flesh it out. The premise is actually pretty cool as it becomes a threat that brings both humans and vampires together in a way that they naturally shouldn't.
It seems that back in the day some dude in Hong Kong became known as the Kowloon King. This guy was essentially a vampire who had the ability to infect humans and turn them into his slaves. As these Kowloon Children bit others they too fell under the King's control which is something that no ordinary vampire should be able to do. Like a plague the Kowloon Children swept across the country engulfing humanity and vampires alike. That's the catch because even a vampire bitten by a Kowloon Child turned into one.
During that time period some of the Old Blood Vampires rose up as heroes to fight the Kowloon Children and restore order. One such Old Blood is Jiro Mochizuki, otherwise known as Silver Blade, who made a name for himself by saving many during the war. Ten years have passed and Jiro is on the road with his brother, Kotaro, to find a place known as The Special Zone. The Zone is essentially a bastion for vampires and humans and it's a place where the Kowloon Children seem to have left alone. As is the case with any good story though; true evil is hard to kill.
The first volume of Black Blood Brothers introduced us to the series with four episodes that gave us a decent glimpse into things. Things started out with our hero Jiro and his brother Kotaro on a boat ride that didn't end so well. Basically a suppression team came to take care of a Kowloon Child and in the process Jiro and his brother were knocked off the boat. They wound up on shore and were introduced to someone who offered to bring them to the Special Zone. Unfortunately things don't exactly go as planned.
The second installment of Black Blood Brothers continues the journey of Jiro and Kotaro. The nice thing about this installment is that there is a lot of continuity at play here so the story flows quite nicely from episode to episode. Things begin right where they left off with Mimiko helping the brothers find their way to the Special Zone. Like the previous volume showed, the journey there isn't quite as easy as one would hope. After some serious fighting against a pack of vampires they manage to make it to the secret city but all is not gold at the end of the rainbow.
What transpires through the rest of this volume involves many shadows from Jiro's past. Some old blood vampires come out of hiding and some old enemies make appearances as well. Probably the most interesting character to date is Cassandra who is basically the monster that betrayed Jiro and the Old Blood vampires. She puts the brothers in an interesting predicament while in the Special Zone and it seems as though she's going to be a thorn in Jiro's side right up to the end.
Black Blood Brothers is a fun little show that's packed with action and full of surprises. I don't want to spoil them for you but let's just say that if you appreciate show's with a well-developed background then this one's history will leave an impression. The continuity definitely helps and the characters are interesting enough to carry the otherwise straightforward story. Only one volume is left for this fast-paced series but this is the type of show that fans will continue to revisit time and time again. If vampires and action are some of your favorite things then definitely give this one a chance.
With a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation Black Blood Brothers looks fantastic on its first release. FUNimation did a fine job with the transfer as color vibrancy, contrast, and picture quality all stand out. There were only a few rare instances in between where grain and some slight compression artifacts were noticeable but truly, those were few and far between. The art direction for this series is another feather in its cap as it really makes an impression.
I have to admit that 5.1 English tracks have been growing on me. I generally appreciate original Japanese dubs but there's something about immersion with an action packed anime that leaves an impression. Imagine my disappointment when I realized that FUNimation didn't go the extra mile to offer 5.1 support with this release! 2.0 English and Japanese are the only language tracks that you'll find here. The dubbing quality for both is phenomenal but the lackluster stereo doesn't do the amount of action justice.
Once again FUNimation went the extra mile for Black Blood Brothers and they brought the original Japanese commentaries to the second volume. Having these original commentaries is simply awesome and it gives a great amount of insight into the production of the series. There's a wealth of information and insight to be had here and if you're a stickler for original Japanese bonus features you'll definitely be in love. There's no denying that these commentaries are the main attraction but some original commercials and textless animations are available to round things out.
Black Blood Brothers is an amazing show. It has such a high level of energy and it brings enough new material to the vampire mythos to warrant a serious look by any fan. If you're an otaku who feels that vampires and anime go together like sushi and soy sauce then this will be your gospel. On the other hand if you're just looking for an action packed show with an awesome premise then this is still a high recommendation. The second volume continues the trend of the first with a ruckus affair that is guaranteed to entertain.
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