Blood-C is a twelve episode anime series that is presently available to buy in the United Kingdom as part of a two disc DVD set from Manga Entertainment. The series is the third installment of the Blood saga that started life back in the year 2000 with the animated short Blood: The Last Vampire, which was subsequently followed by Production I.G’s Blood Plus. The show tells the tale of Saya Kisaragi a clumsy bespectacled teenager who, like many other anime heroines, is blessed with a pair of massive… pigtails. What did you think I was going to say you dirty reader you?
At first glance Saya looks like your regular high school girl, enjoying mundane activities like guzzling coffee and sweets at the local cafe, helping out as a shrine maiden at the temple were her dad works and fraternizing with her chums at school (were she often arrives late given how her trips to class are often sidetracked by the irresistible urge to play with stray mutts.) When the sun sets however Saya transforms from a scatterbrained lass into a sword wielding badass who is tasked with protecting the rural town she resides in from the threat of man eating creatures known as Elder Bairns.
For the first five episodes or so the series follows a monster of the week format. We follow Saya as she whimsically skips to school wailing overly cheesy songs that will have you clamoring for the nearest set of earplugs. Once she reaches her destination we are regaled with high school hijinks featuring the class president whose amorous advances towards the protagonist are regularly spurned, the hyper active twins who often speak in unison and the tall dark loner who reeks of romantic interest. From watching the daylight interactions of the uncoordinated lead it is hard to believe how cool and composed she is when dusk hits and she is called upon to slice beasties with a sacred blade.
Once the series reaches the halfway point things however start to get more interesting. The Elder Bairns, who up until that point have been attacking random townsfolk, decide to up the ante by targeting Saya’s friends. The resulting carnage really caught me off guard even though I consider myself to be a veteran of gory cartoons. The manner in which innocents get chewed, impaled, tossed like ragdolls and plastered against concrete walls is truly gruesome. Part of the shock factor comes from the fact that the visual art style is clean and colorful, not the norm as such content is normally reserved for darker/grittier shows. Watching the massacre unfold took me back to the time I first watched Elfen Lied, unaware of the depravity the adorable characters on the box art would be subjected to.
Blood-C’s weakest area would have to be its unoriginal story, which culminates in a twist concerning Saya’s origins. The revelation failed to have any impact on me, as I was familiar with the character having already seen the other Blood cartoons. Given that the Blood franchise is well known in anime circles I expect many other viewers will feel the same way.
Thankfully the action sequences keep things interesting with some satisfying battles. The bouts between Saya and the Elder Bairns are always entertaining as they neither drag on like a Dragonball tussle nor do they end in mere seconds via a quick mortal blow, which is often the case with shows featuring swordfighters. Saya isn’t an unstoppable force so we get to see her trade blows with an adversary before she eventually susses out her opponent’s weakness. All the battles feel special, as every Elder Bairn (modeled off creatures from Japanese folklore) have their own distinct look and unique range of attacks.
The general consensus seems to be that Blood-C is the weak link of the Blood releases. Visually speaking it’s not a bad looking show, but aesthetically it pales to the stunning Last Vampire. Narratively it doesn’t have the depth and substance of Plus either. That said I still appreciated it on its own merits. The action along with the lashings of gore ensured that I was never bored and even if the characterization of the supporting cast could have been better I did enjoy following Saya during the more lighthearted segments. Even if it’s not a bloody good show (excuse the pun) I liked it enough to the point that I am eagerly anticipating the follow-up movie The Last Dusk, which hopefully ties up the loose threads episode twelve’s cliffhanger leave unresolved.