I cheated. I watched Blood+ long ago before it ever came to the states. We anime fans have our skills. But of course, I can't review something when no one else can get it - and besides, I always, always want to know how the dub is so I can either praise it or tear it to ribbons. *coughNarutocough* Here's an early tidbit: I am pleased.
Saya is just an ordinary girl who goes to school and has friends and brothers and a father. Almost. Even Saya doesn't know what she truly is; a being that many would label a vampire and whose blood can kill bloodthirsty creatures called chiropterans. She's been asleep for quite some time and remembers nothing of her past. So when a strange man toting a cello called Hagi steps in to rescue her from a chiropteran (by giving her a sword and asking her to fight), her world is turned upside down. People she loves begin to die, Hagi names himself her Chevalier, Saya's brothers Riku and Kai get wrapped up in the mess, an organization named Red Shield asks for her help, everyone seems to know about Saya's past except her, and everything seems to revolve around someone named Diva. The search is out now to find Diva and destroy her before the chiropterans, Diva's chevaliers, and other strange creatures of the night kill Saya and what's left of her family.
Yeah, that's the story in a nutshell. Or at least, seasons one and two in a nutshell. There's a lot going on here that, upon first viewing, threw me off. I didn't quite catch everything, so when Saya suddenly gets enrolled in a French school to find out something I completely lost why she was there and what she was looking for. I got confused by the whole subplot - or was it a subplot? Mmm. That's the trick. Near the end, new antagonists appear and call themselves the Schiff and they're after Saya too, but they're so cryptic about what exactly they are, how they got that way, what it is about Saya that will free them, I started to get completely lost.
Basically, the stories are good, but it may take a second viewing to take in everything. Like you caught most of it the first time so the second time you can go in and pick up the details you missed. You have to keep track of a lot of storylines; Saya and Hagi's, Kai and Riku, what happened in Saya's past, what's with this Diva chick, what's the deal with the chiropterans, the Schiff, and even one with a reporter that ends up alongside Kai's girlfriend who is just determined to find out where he went. Um, shouldn't she be in high school?
Despite any confusion you may have, it's definitely an interesting anime. It picks up years after the movie Blood: The Last Vampire, which is slightly awkward because the two Saya characters are so different. I'm not sure how close the two are actually supposed to be, but whether or not you've seen the movie is irrelevant. You can easily watch this anime on its own because there's nothing in the movie that pops up in the anime except similar flashbacks of Saya going berserk in Vietnam (and even that was never explained in the movie so here's hoping it's explained in the series).
The characters are all interesting with their own thoughts and issues. Saya is quiet and likeable and certainly attention-grabbing when she gets that bloodlust going (usually through Hagi's dealing). Hagi is the character all anime-watching girls tend to drool over, myself included. He's mysterious and tender with that element of deadliness in him - because he is. He plays the cello and my favorite episodes include him, especially when we get to find out how he came to be the man he is and what his past is with Saya. Riku, the younger brother, is cute and does what he's supposed to, still too young in the world to be on his own. Kai, the older brother, acts tough most of the time, or in many cases, tries to act tough. In fact, much of the time Kai annoyed me because he never listened to the adults when he should have and has this super-intense desire to find Saya. I guess it's because though they're all adopted, he considers Saya his sister and isn't going to let some weird government group spirit her away without a fight. Understandable, but he still had his moments of, "Oh my God, will you please just shut up and do what the man with the gun says??"
The chiropterans are awesome, and the bad guys Saya is faced with are all cool in their own bad guy way. Each of Diva's chevaliers is unique and their differences could make for a good bit of action further on in the show. I wasn't sure how many seasons this would last, but this set of DVDs includes both seasons 1 and 2, and my sources tell me there are 4 seasons so far. That's good considering there are a lot of unanswered questions and plenty of loose ends to be tied up. Here's hoping it gets there - anime that fails to do so drives me insane.
The Animation and Music
As already mentioned, the animation is lovely. It's got a kind of soft touch to it, with details where they need to be and lacking in other areas to give a gentler approach. For example, details in the skin of the chiropteran, but smooth sailing in Saya's face. Overall it's good stuff, nothing any anime fan can complain about.
The music is really what caught me and in the very first episode too. It was bold and strong and I immediately thought Hans Zimmer and after nosing around on the official Japanese website, realized it was Hans Zimmer, at least some of it (as Mark Mancina's name is on the soundtrack CD). I don't know how the heck that worked out, but it's fantastic. The more Hans, the better. He's the Basil Poledouris of our time. Happily, they kept the original opening and closing songs and some of those are pretty good.
It's hard to go wrong with the original Japanese voice cast. There's really nothing to worry about and any anime fan won't be surprised to hear certain tones coming out of certain mouths (a fair-haired gentleman with a light, boyish voice for example, and Hagi a bit deeper and, dare I say, more sexy). Even watchers unfamiliar with anime shouldn't expect to hear anything wonky. It's all pretty straightforward.
The English dub - good job. I'm quite pleased with everyone. While David seems a bit deep to me, I really have no issues to take up. Saya (Kari Wahlgren) is still soft spoken, Kai's a smart*ss, and Hagi (Crispin Freeman you sexy beast) sounds practically the same. I say kudos to the casting director and more kudos to the skills of the voice actors. I'm glad they brought their A game to the table because sometimes it can take time for voice actors to get the hang of their characters, but these guys hit it home right out of the gate.
Good stuff, no complaints, and here's hoping for more in the future!
1. First Kiss
2. Magic Words
3. The Place Where It All Began
4. Dangerous Boy
5. Beyond the Dark Forest
6. My Father's Hands
7. I Must Do It
8. Phantom of the School
9. Rainbow for Each
10. I Want to See You
11. After the Dance
12. Lured by the White Mist
13. Jungle Paradise
14. The Last Sunday
15. I Want to Pursue!
16. Siberian Express
17. Do You Remember the Promise?
18. Moon Over Ekaterinburg
19. Broken Heart
21. Sour Grapes
22. The Zoo
23. The Two Chevaliers
24. Airy Singing Voice
25. The Red Shield
Viewing Format: DVD
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