This is going to be one of those seasons where the blogging choices are brutal. It’s turning out to be a pretty good one, especially for summer, but it’s also a season like we get sometimes where there are a large number of shows in a very narrow quality range (at least so far) and not many that really stand out as slam-dunks. Too many to blog if I keep them all, but how do you choose when there’s so little to choose between them? Not to mention it’s also another of those seasons where most of the shows in my orbit are crammed into two days – in this case Thursday night and Saturday and Sunday night, Japan broadcast time (there are simply too many Saturday shows to cover in one day, especially factoring in Hunter X Hunter’s Sunday morning slot).
Blood Lad is a perfect example of this. It’s a Sunday show, competing for my time against the likes of Uchouten Kazoku (which has won a commitment from me now), Kaminai (which would have until it took the turn it did this week – now it’s back in limbo, pun intended), Kimi no Iru Machi and Kingdom (better than ever, despite killing of its best character last season). And truth be told, Blood Lad is probably more than good enough to blog absent external factors – it has a terrific cast, a nice blend of comic styles, enough but not too much meta-humor and Brains Base visual creativity. It may not lend itself to blogging as well as some others because it’s a pretty straightforward comedy, but it would be an awfully good series to let slip away.
I think by now everyone should have a good idea whether Blood Lad’s humor will work for them, because it’s been very consistent across all three episodes. I especially liked this week because it featured a heavy dose of Mamejirou. I love that little… whatever – he’s great visually, and Saitou Chiwa really is one of the best comic actresses in anime. My favorite Mamejirou moments this week came during the boxing match, especially when he turned into Mickey from the Rocky films (whose theme song was obviously being parodied as well. It’s also been pointed out that the parody is actually Danpei Tange from AnJ, but that makes me think Micky might himself have been inspired by AnJ. It’s always seemed clear Stallone was heavily influenced by it.). But one of the things I really like about Blood Lad is that it’s one of those shows with no throwaway cast members – even the smaller roles like the pigeon carriage-drivers are given a comic personality, and all of the major characters (probably least so Fuyumi, truth be told) are well above-average in terms of sheer personality and wit.
Another character I have a special bias in favor of is Hydra, and if it’s because I can’t stop thinking of Haruhara Haruko every time I see her, so what? If you’re going to homage you may as well homage the best, and you can’t do much better than FLCL. She’s got loads more funny moments this week, including her interaction with the OniQlo manager, and she’s got Level E potential in the troll department. She sends Staz (who’s also one of the best MCs of the season, by the way) off on a wild goose chase to the wild West Demon World in search of the Book of Human Resurrection. This is another clever comic conceit – I especially loved the tumbleweed that sprouted legs and casually exited stage right – and it’s the territory of Wolf Boy (Terashima Takuma, whose career has apparently survived being one of the ringleaders of the Kokoro Connect hazing scandal). Here’s another winner of a character – a nice foil for Staz, and the show plays off the “are they friends or rivals?” gag for some pretty good mileage.
Above and beyond that it’s just good, straightforward comedy – the boxing match, the big reveal that Hydra had the book all along followed by the clunker that none of the main cast can read it, the subplot with Yoshida and the broken figure. The timing is excellent, the performances universally excellent and the sight-gags clever. This ain’t brain surgery but as I’ve said many times, making comedy look this easy is one of the hardest things a show can do. Good anime comedies are actually a pretty rare bird in most seasons – this being no exception – so I have a full appreciation for them when they come along. Whatever my blogging decision with Blood Lad – full posts, digests or other – you can bet that I’ll be watching it and enjoying the hell out of it.