The most underrated series of the past season. Blood-C? Nah, that show is just very easy to either really like or really dislike. Hyouge Mono? Nah, there are enouigh people who want to see it subbed some day. As for Blade, however: I made a number of posts about it, but I don’t think that I can recall even a single person commenting on it after the first episode. Were there actually people who knew about this thing?
It’s a pity, because this turned out to be quite an engaging action series. Out of all the Marvel series that were shown over the past year, it by far stands out as the best, aside from a few single areas.
Let’s get those areas out of the way first: the animation and the action choreography. The animation is nowhere near as good as it was, back with the X-Men, and Wolverine had better choreography and knew how to make its fights visually more interesting. While this is indeed a bit of a pity, do note that apart from that, Blade is superior to Iron Man, X-Men and Wolverine in all other ways.
At first sight this may not seem to be the case. In fact, I can recall giving up hope with this series after its second episode came with a very cheesy police story. But after that, something very interesting happened: this show started to get more and more focused. Suddenly, it came with background arc after background arc: we get an engaging story of Blade in his teens, as a young adult, we learn what happened to his mother, what happened to his father, the main villain gets a compelling back-story and this show even has the time to take one of the side-characters of Wolverine, and use him better than how Wolverine did it! Instead of randomly focusing on action, every episode is actually meant to flesh out the story and give everything ample back-story.
Oh, the stories still are a bit cheesy and simple, but it all is surprisingly well executed, with great build-up, pacing and an excellent use of music. You really have to give it to the composer here: he composed four kickass and standalone soundtracks that are all different from each other. Because of that, not just Blade turns into the best character out of all of the Marvel-series, his sidekicks also dwarf their counterparts. The female sidekick finally hits the nail right on the mark: she’s neither a helpless damsel in distress, nor does she hog all of the screentime with deus ex machina powers. Intead, she adds something to the main character, and makes him change. The main villain is compelling, threatening and actually does something other tha sit in a chair, and the rest of the side-cast do a wonderful job both supporting the main cast, and also telling their own story.
Let’s also talk about the setting a bit. Are you tired of every single anime taking place in a Japanese High School? Then look no further, because this series is anything but typical. First of all, when was the last time we had an actual black main character? The last major one I can remember is Dutch from Black Lagoon, and even he got shafted as the show went on. Also, as the series went on, another very interesting thing happened: the characters didn’t stay in Japan, but instead went on a tour thoughout Southeast Asia. Seriously, every arc takes place in a different country, and in this way we suddenly visit countries that have never even made an appearance in anime: the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malasia, this show takes us jungles all over the place, rather than just staying on one spot.
Also, this show is about vampires. The kind that sparkles? Of course not. Here they really are bloodthirsty creatures, but even there it’s not as black and white as just that. This series too spends a lot of time on the nature of vampires, what it means to become one, and most importantly: what happens to the loved ones of the people who do become one.
Okay, now just to make sure that I’m not overly praising this series: it does have Madhouse’s acting problem again. And with that, I mean that their character designs are so complex that it becomes really hard to animate them properly, making their acting feel a bit akward. Especially the first half suffers of this, when dramatic speeches can get a bit awkward due to choppy facial animation. It also remains a series that is dedicated to action. Don’t expect world class drama here. It’s simple drama with simple characters that just comes together wonderfully, especially after the glaring flaws that the earlier Marvel series had, this really was the closure that the franchise needed.
|Storytelling:||8/10 – Great combination of action and plot, both which are surprisingly interesting.|
|Characters:||9/10 – A ton of attention to all kinds of character backgrounds was really appreciated, and the characters dwarf the cast of all of the other Marvel series.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Fantastic soundtrack, though the animation has a few issues here and there.|
|Setting:||8/10 – More anime should follow this series’ example of not picking the most overused premises to go with!|