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.