I think I finally figured out what’s been nagging at me about this show. Sure the dialogue is awkward, the characters are plastic and the transitions jarring. But put it all together, and here’s the thing – this series feels like a Blood doujinshi brought to life.
That really isn’t all surprising in a way, because CLAMP is really a doujin circle elevated to the level of mainstream animation. In fact they were a doujin circle for the first few years of their existence, and though they deservedly rose to fame and had many of their works adapted to anime, they’ve always retained something of that quality to their work.
Maybe it’s me, but I can never remember another CLAMP work in the last 20 years that felt this much like a doujin, Perhaps it’s because this time they’re taking a spin in someone else’s vehicle and really, that’s what doujinshi are all about. Doujins are very often self-indulgent anyway, and this feels like a very self-indulgent take on the Blood universe. It has the feeling of four women sitting around a room saying “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” and then I.G. coming along and setting the whole thing down on video. I’ll give this episode credit for at least being somewhat more interesting than the previous three, though I suspect that’s because we were spared any dialogue for the two-thirds of it that was taken up with the fight sequences.
Saya certainly isn’t very good at protecting the townsfolk, is she? At least she tried to save the three fishermen this time – although that does beg the question of why she sat by happily while the baker was pulped last week. But the fishermen fared no better, killed and eaten (two of them eaten, anyway) by elder bairns working together for the first time. I don’t find the battle scenes especially inventive but they’re competent, and what they lack in creativity they make up for in sheer blood. The recurring theme of “Honor the covenant” repeats again this week, as the head elder bairn of the trio (looks like he flew off the back of a dollar bill) repeats the mantra to Saya.
The creators have pretty much given up the ruse that the so-called normalcy of this village is anything but a front. There are signs Saya may be recovering suppressed memories (we’ve seen that before). Saya-Papa obviously knows more about the covenant than he’s telling his daughter. Sensei is clearly hiding something – we know by lingering close-ups of her evil smile. The owner of Grimauve, too – we know there because of his dramatic voice-overs. So the question is, how deep does the conspiracy go – is everyone in on it, or just some of them? Is it a dog or a cat (I wasn’t the only one who thought “cat”)? Or perhaps a better question: is any of this compelling enough that I really care?