Why You Should Be Watching Blood Blockade Battlefront
It's a blast.
So here’s the low-down on the anime Blood Blockade Battlefront: everyday apprentice journalist Leonard Watch, a completely normal boy who happens to have the eyes of a god that allow him to see across time and space. Leo has found himself in quite a comedy of the absurd, after biting off far more then he can chew in the big city months ago in search of a cure for his sister’s ailing legs. Or, at least, Hellsalem’s Lot (formally NYC) is as much of a city as you can call an extra-dimensional portal into all things spooky. Humanity’s main protection is both a mysterious gate and secret society named Libra, a conglomerate of super beings with unexplained abilities (there’s lots of synonyms for “secretive” can be used in these first episodes, it seems). After a freak encounter with a powerful demon in a city leaves Leo’s sister blind and the two orphaned, he finds himself an involuntary resident of the city, doing what he can for himself and his sister.
Until, that is, an everyday deluge of chaos leads Leo, an innocent bystander in the muck, to get involved in the circus. A case of mistaken identity (and a supersonic monkey) brings him to Libra, and his mysterious powers subsequently leads him into being their newest rookie. Leo doesn’t quite understand how his powers completely work, let alone how they’re supposed to be useful or how he’s supposed to go forward with his new career, but he decides that it’s a good way to help his sister and regain what was lost.
Ok, yes; that synopsis was totally disjointed, info-dumpy, and difficult to parse; but that’s appropriate for the show’s narrative, which is so fast pasted and information-heavy, you’ll find yourself having to rewind the stream once or twice, or even give the episode a second viewing on occasion just to digest what’s been flying across the screen. Director Rie Matsumoto rises to this wakadoodle challenge, however, making clever use of frame space that allows the audience to quickly grasp loads of environmental information while zipping around the city. The overarching aesthetic choices are also fully enjoyable; in addition to our dynamic and dirty cityscape, we’re treated to a nice palate of unique and creatively disgusting monsters and equally bloody imagery. All of this integrates rather nicely with the jazzy music that’s more of a background piece than an emotional signifier, finding a nice little home in the action scenes.
Thematically, you don’t have to walk too far to see Yasuhiro Nightow’s influence in the shows humanist sensibilities. Just as in his previous and most long-standing work, Trigun, we have a sappy, pacifist hero who respects all lifeforms and seeks to use his ordained lot in life to help others. There’s also plenty of well-written musings on human strength that I personally really love in a hero/coming-of-age story. Our main character is simply seeking to use his powers for good; and, like Vash before him, Leo uses fairly empathetic reasoning in his decision-making, while still being unafraid to put himself on the line for his loved ones despite his natural human fear and self-doubt. It’s going to be a crazy ride, indeed, to see these themes and well-written low concept stuff incorporated into the sheer happiness of the show.
Because the show really is admirable it is in total energy and joviality. Every character is allowed to shine through their electric chemistry, incorporated with designs and names that are all memorable. It’s always fun to see personalities that appropriately grind and slide off one another (as is best seen in the egregious but oddly-competent Zapp Renfro interacting with renaissance man Klaus Reinhertz), while also finding harmony in the tight battles and frequent actiony scenes. This, combined with the shows unabashed but heartfelt joy in everything it does (I mean, just look at the dance sequence at the ending credits!) makes it a force of style that I haven’t seen since the likes of Baccano!.
With a powerful starting force of heart, theme, and general unabashed coolness, I’m in this baby thing for the long haul, and I can’t wait to see what this lovely little seasonal outlier has in store.
Rachael’s a student at a Florida university that frolics regularly in Disney parks and has an entirely too extensive collection of stuffed animals. If you wanna follow her other random musings on cartoons (or just stop by to say hi) there’s her blog https://lotsofframes.wordpress.com/.
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