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Saya is a seemingly normal girl living with her father in a shrine. During the day she goes to school and spends time with her friends at a local cafe. But when night falls Saya is called upon to protect her village from strange monsters.
For more about Blood-C and the Blood-C Blu-ray release, see Blood-C Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on January 6, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Alexis Tipton, Robert McCollum, Nana Mizuki
Director: Tsutomu Mizushima
» See full cast & crew
Blood-C Blu-ray Review
It's a dirty "Job", but someone has to be it.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, January 6, 2013
Note: It's next to impossible to discuss Blood-C without at least hinting at one major plot point which might be considered a spoiler. For those who haven't seen the series and don't want to be able to even guess what's being hinted at, it's probably best to just skip to the technical aspects of the review, below.
Most of us have probably shaken our fists at the sky at some point in our lives and demanded of any unseen omnipotent entities that we assume are watching us, "Why are you doing this to me?" The vagaries of life take most of us on a veritable roller coaster ride of highs and lows, but when things get really bad, we're more often than not prone to wonder what we've done to deserve such misfortune, searching (usually in vain) for a cause and effect scenario. Rather interestingly from a psychological perspective, we very seldom tend to question fate when good fortune comes our way, something that some might argue is at least as deserving of inquiry as bad luck. Job set the template for a human being besieged with calamity, and the writer of that iconic Biblical tome gave the reader a fascinating framing device, where we're privy to the fact that Job's trials and tribulations are part of an epic "game" of sorts between the forces of good and evil. But for poor Job, who has no idea that he's a pawn in a kind of unseemly spiritual battle, it just seems like everything is going to hell in a handbasket, with him powerless to do anything about it. Something akin to that scenario is at the core of the often gruesome but quite compelling anime series Blood-C, a sequel of sorts to Blood +. Once again we have a heroine named Saya, and she is once again a formidable katana wielder out to rid her sylvan village of some pretty nasty monsters. But Blood-C has a whole "meta" aspect to it, including an omniscient narrator who lets us in right from the get go that there's something else going on here than the mere "girl fighting goblins" plotline we're watching. In fact, the narrator presents the viewer with the very same framing device that the long ago writer of the Book of Job did in that piece, providing a window into what is a tableau where at least some of the participants aren't aware they're part of a "staged" reality.
One of my favorite books growing up was a little remembered science fiction novel called The Artificial Man, by L.P. Davies, a book which is remembered today, if in fact it's remembered at all, as providing the source element for the equally dimly recalled 1968 William Castle film Project X, which made it to Blu-ray last year courtesy of the ever eclectic Olive Films. The novel was brilliantly structured, offering a story of a "current day" (read mid-sixties) author who is working on his latest tome, a futuristic spy thriller, while living in a quaint and isolated English village. The author very slowly becomes aware that the story he's writing may in fact be his autobiography, and he further becomes aware that he is, yes, an unwitting pawn in a highly complex conspiracy to extract information from the deepest recesses of his mind. The novel made the reader part and parcel of the unfolding revelations, while the film gave up the putative ghost from the get go, letting the viewer in on the conspiracy right away and thus destroying one of the best elements of Davies' novel. (As I mentioned in my review of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Total Recall, an offering which bears more than a passing resemblance to The Artificial Man and/or Project X on any number of levels, one of the odder similarities is the fact that Project X's hero turns out to be named Hagen Arnold while Total Recall's arch villain is named Cohaagen, something that seems to suggest original Total Recall author Philip K. Dick may have in fact read The Artificial Man at some point.)
All of this is to say that one of the most distinctive elements of Blood-C is that there is indeed a whole aspect that is playing out behind the scenes, as it were, and which is only slowly revealed as the otherwise pretty straightforward scenario takes center stage. In this respect, Blood-C quite smartly hews to the better choice of bringing the audience along within the subterfuge, much like the original Artificial Man novel and indeed like Total Recall, rather than spilling the beans up front. While there are some intimations of what's "really" going on courtesy of the narration, there are still some major surprises when Saya is let in on certain facts about her identity, her village and virtually everyone she knows.
What turns out to be one of the series' most artful elements may be mistaken for bad writing or voice actor incompetence in the early going. While Saya is kind of schizoid in any case, at one point an overly cheery schoolgirl and next a katana wielding, ruthlessly vicious monster slayer, everyone else around here seems either somnambulistic (like her father) or just weirdly hyperbolic (like several of her classmates). But something seems off about this scenario from almost the first moment. It's only later when some of the disclosures have taken place that we're suddenly aware that that "off" feeling was intentional and indeed a wonderful (if disturbing) foreshadowing of Saya's personal "fourth wall" being shattered, as if some omnipotent divinity were wielding a katana of their own, with Saya's fragile "reality" itself the victim.
Blood-C Blu-ray, Video Quality
Blood-C is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p in 1.78:1. The series is awash in shades of red and black, and those pop extremely well throughout virtually every episode. Line detail is quite clear and sharp and character designs, while a bit formulaic at time, also have some distinctive elements. The beasts, which often seem to have erupted from a nearby H.P. Lovecraft story, are suitably spooky, kind of like mutant gargoyles come to life. As with several other recent FUNimation releases, there are some recurrent banding issues, which are especially noticeable when the image fades or segues to another sequence.
Blood-C Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Blood-C features Dolby TrueHD mixes for both the English language dub (in 5.1) and the original Japanese language version (in 2.0). As is typical with these releases, the Japanese version is not only obviously narrower, it's much less aggressively mixed. One really interesting aspect is the complete difference in tonal qualities between the Japanese and English Sayas. All of this said, the English audio is absolutely remarkable in terms of its ambient environmental surround activity. What's ironic is that some might expect the battle sequences to be the showiest aspect of the mix—and there's no denying that these sequences are showy—but what really impresses over and over is the subtle use of things like cicadas buzzing, the breeze rustling the leaves, and similar effects, effects which often melt into each other in very lifelike ways and often provide some startling immersion. Fidelity is excellent and dynamic range is extremely wide.
Blood-C Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Blood-C Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Blood-C seems to be a fairly rote series on its surface, what with its magically empowered young girl battling a host of supernatural ghouls. But the framing device here is what gives the series its edge, and it ultimately blossoms at the end of the series' rather short arc into a disturbing and very compelling experience. Getting there is a bit of a slog, though, and it takes a certain amount of patience (and tolerance) to make it through the more standard elements to get to the gist of what makes Blood-C so fascinating. Those who are willing to peer past the appearance into the essence may find this to be an unusually provocative series, though everyone should be aware this is, as its title intimates, a pretty bloody affair from start to finish. This Blu-ray offers excellent video and superior sound, and comes with some appealing supplements. Recommended.
Blood-C: Other Seasons
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Blood-C Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blood-C: The Last Dark Blu-ray - September 13, 2013
FUNimation Entertainment has detailed the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack release of Blood-C: The Last Dark, the 2012 animated film that picks up where the Blood-C anime series left off. The supernatural horror-action fantasy streets on October 22nd.
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