First Impressions: Blood-C

OP: “Spiral” by DUSTZ
ED: “Junketsu Paradox” by Nana Mizuki

I’ll never look at a Jizo statue the same way again.

Blood-C was the winner of the LiA Summer Season poll, with no less than 60% of you choosing it as a series you were looking forward to. I was, too, though in my preview I noted that “how this melange of talents, studios and styles will meld is anyone’s guess”. For some, the notion of Production I.G., CLAMP and Blood together was a source of pulse-quickening excitement. For some, nauseous fear. For me, somewhere in the middle – let’s say “hopeful trepidation”.

I suppose it’s worth stating up front that I’m not a huge CLAMP fan. I enjoy some of their work, though none of it ranks among my favorites, and it always takes a few chapters (or episodes) to get past the “oodles of noodles” character designs. So there’s an element of “Ick – you got CLAMP in my Blood!” here. But I’m over that – the Blood franchise is nothing if not ever-changing, and I love Production I.G., so it’s left only to judge the series on its own merits.

Depending on which of these three giant industry names you feel most attached to, the premiere will require some adaptation. For me, the CLAMP is the most obvious dominant gene so far. This is Saya in a somewhat different zone – clumsy, chipper, bespectacled. She’s played by Nana Mizuki who, though an industry veteran for sure, is a major tonal shift for the character. This Saya is a Miko, her father (the inimitable Fujiwara Keiji, having notched a Shinto Priest to go along with his Catholic one in Ao no Exorcist) a stern but loving type overly concerned about his daughter’s tendency to faceplant but not about sending her off to battle killer Jizo statues in a swamp.

Most of the ep, though, is dedicated to school life. Saya is (as ever) a great athlete. There’s a stern class Prez, a sexy but funny homeroom teacher, and the boy from the cafe who pines after the too-dense-to-notice Saya. There are also preposterously cute twin girls (Nene and Nono – ack) who apparently idolize Saya. No sign of Hagi yet, though there is a stern, brooding male classmate who might end up filling the role.

In all honesty, the first episode failed to make a strong impression on me one way or the other. For an I.G. series it looks rather flat and washed-out – are they in a slump? The combat scene in the swamp is well-animated, though the CG isn’t especially integrated smoothly into the whole. Both OP and ED are somewhat plain, the OP being the better song and the ED animation having a static, cheap look to it. There were amusing moments, but the humor was somewhat awkward. Right now, this marriage of styles feels a bit rough to me.

We do have an outstanding director in Tsutomu Mizushima, who headed up the Shinryaku Ika Musume and Oofuri franchises among others. My hope is that with the help of Blood+ Godfather Jun’ichi Fujisaku – on hand as a consultant – he’ll be able to meld these disparate elements into an interesting whole. It’s disappointing to see an I.G. series that doesn’t wow visually in the first episode, I admit, but it’s just one episode. Remember, the story is by CLAMP as well as the character designs – so in the end, my suspicion is that this will be a CLAMP series first, a Blood and I.G. series after.

Incidentally, I’m trying out this new format for “First Impressions” posts – please let me know how you like it. Obviously a much more traditional anime blog style, but trying it out specifically for First Impressions.

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9 comments

  1. M

    I felt the episode was pretty good. Not enough to live up to the hype but entertaining nonetheless.

    For a first episode, there were quite a bit of scenes of nothing really happening – Saya walking around, the staring contest with the statue, the singing. I can understand how people can feel disgruntled but personally I didn't mind those at all (except the latter, I do have to question if that was necessary) and they succeeded in smoothing out the transitions and had an interesting ominous feel to them.

    I believe the fact that most of the episode was school life is merely a tool to introduce the main cast and I expect (and hope) this series will get darker as it goes. I think the last scene was there to remind us what the anime is really about and to not let us get fooled by the rest of the episode.

    I'm inclined to think this anime's success will depend on how well it's able to balance and mix the school and the dark settings. I haven't watched Blood+ but it's been on my radar for a while; might be a good chance to finally check it out.

    As for the new format, I do prefer the old one but that might be out of habit. It's true this one is more compact, though. You might want to try something in between, like using the first and last row of images for the OP and ED, and the usual format for the rest. It could work if it's just for the first impressions. Just my two cents.

  2. S

    For a Production IG work, I thought it was quite a disappointment visually as well. What's up with the ending theme? It's a good song, but it looks really cheap with the boring still frames.
    I was never a fan of Clamp's work but I must say, Saya is probably one of the better looking Clamp characters I have seen. The fighting scene was very nicely animated but similar to previous Clamp's work, it has too many unnecessary movements.
    It was an enjoyable episode as a whole, but I thought Blood-C would be the one setting the standard for the rest of the season. I guess the jury is still out there…

  3. Way too much talent involved here to panic. The one thing that really surprised me was that it didn't look better – I really think I.G. is on a bit of a slide, and that worries me as much as anything.

    Murkel – good suggestion. I'll give it a test drive, possibly.

  4. A

    It took me sometime to get used to the CLAMP stlye to. I have seen both Blood the last vampire movies(animated,live-action) and some CLAMP shows. I cant wait to see how Nanase Ohkawa mixes CLAMP with Blood+.

  5. A

    I liked the 1st episode. It was an episode to introduce the characters and I'm sure it will pick up more as the series continues.

    Is it my imagination or are folks getting more and more hypercritical of anime as each season progresses. I honestly didn't find anything really wrong with this episode and am looking forward to the next.

  6. I don't personally find people more critical now – feels about the same to me. All you can do is take everyone's opinion with a grain of salt and make up your own mind…

  7. A

    Do we have to watch Blood+ to understand Blood-C? Or is it along the lines of Toaru Kagaku no Railgun and Toarku Majutsu no Index where it's a side series, have the same characters, but need to have no past knowledge of the first to understand?

  8. I don't really think you have to watch Blood+. The "Blood" universe is such that all of the stories are resets to a greater or lesser extent, and there's not a lot of direct continuity. I can't say for sure, not knowing where this is going – but I think you're fine.

    That said – Blood+ is a good series. Flawed, but occasionally excellent. Not a bad watch at all.

  9. A

    Its a reimagining of the series similar to FMA Brotherhood was to FMA. Its the story retold as a new series and it might go in a different direction. So its not a sequel or continuation. No previous viewing needed.

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