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, Moon Phase was released again by FUNimation, and Geneon's Hellsing Ultimate was around before the publisher 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.
In the first and second volumes the pacing for Black Blood Brothers could be categorized as "breakneck". So much happens in such a short period of time that it can be a tad overwhelming to pick up the pieces in between the satisfying amounts of action. In addition to the simple description of the show Jiro bumped into a few old associates and adversaries and a lot of fighting broke out. The relationships that he has with Jiro and Cassandra are definitely interesting but it's the latter that has stronger ramifications for the third and final installment.
The Special Zone is in turmoil with Cassandra kicking around because believe me when I tell you that this chick is off her rocker. She's the epitome of a villain that you love to hate and frankly that's exactly what this kind of show needs. Unfortunately her emergence comes a little too late because before you know it this volume is over and the show comes to a close. This is a series that definitely needed more room to grow and another twelve episodes to tell its story with. Sadly we don't get that.
Aside from the continuous fight scenes that break out a great deal of this last volume involves Mimiko's character as well. She adds an interesting dynamic to the show and provides a possibility for the action to break. Her connections with Jiro also help bring the show to a close but the ending feels kind of rushed due to the available length of the program.
For what it was Black Blood Brothers was an enjoyable little vampire show. Unfortunately it's over much too quickly for my personal tastes. The twelve episodes just cram so much into them that the show feels rushed and before you know it you're watching the credits for the final episode. I had a lot of fun with the series and it's definitely a unique spin on the vampire mythos though so length and pacing issues aside it's worth checking out.
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.
FUNimation has really gone out of their way with Black Blood Brothers to provide some fantastic bonus content. The features here are the same as the other two volumes and that means you can expect some trailers, sneak peeks, clean animation, and commentaries for each episode here. These commentaries are with the original Japanese cast and unlike English commentaries they actually provide a great amount of insight into the program. This definitely extends the amount of time you'll spend with this series.
Black Blood Brothers is great show with some fantastic design, nice animation, loads of action, and a compelling story. The characters are finely crafted in every regard and the story is solid throughout. The only complaints I have after watching all three volumes of the show is that it's just too short for its own good. This deserves a second season and more time to flesh out the background because it's a very interesting twist on vampire lore. Check it out if you want a short burst of action-packed anime featuring the undead.
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