Bleh. I’m full of fail on the blogging front. Let me do another dump of posts to get caught up. First, the last in my Blood series reviews.
Blood-C is CLAMP’s (one of the more popular anime/manga group of artists) take on Saya’s story. This time, Saya is a shrine maiden on a small island somewhere in Japan, with an equally small town surrounding the shring. She is charged by her father to use the sacred sword to slay the monsters plaguing the town–referred to as the Elder Bairns once translated–just as her mother once did. But Saya must keep it a secret, even when things take a turn for the worse and what Saya thinks she knows is brought under questioning.
Animation and design-wise…it’s a CLAMP project, that much is obvious. They got into this lanky, awkward way of drawing characters, and it’s worse in moving color than it is in black-and-white manga. Thankfully, it isn’t as utterly bizarre in this show as it was in xxxHolic, but it still lends a weird edge to the animation. The school uniform choice is…well, it’s dumb, and the characters even lampshade the design towards the end, calling it cosplay. I also think the “dog” didn’t really look like a dog, making it stick out way too much instead of being moderately inconspicuous.
This version of Saya is the most bipolar yet. She sings little songs, loves her father like he hung the stars, and is completely oblivious to the feelings of one of her classmates for her. But she is also a fearless fighter, a warrior that the Elder Bairns seem to hate, and, in the end, humanity’s reluctant defender. That’s right, CLAMP’s Saya links back to the first Saya from Blood: the Last Vampire, though it takes the entire series to get there, and a movie besides to really see the link. The movie also hints at Blood +‘s Saya with a flashback to a castle garden, but it was such a mild link, along with Saya’s senseless red eyes (seriously, they serve no purpose other than to look cool), that I’m not certain how much of it was intentional and how much of it was them just taking guessing stabs at key traits from previous work in the franchise.
As for the other cast members, well, they are as deep as a puddle. The father-figure and, at least up until the last couple of episodes, everyone else were as flat as could be. But once everything hit the fan, the side characters became much more real to me and far more interesting. I wish we had gotten more hints of them throughout the rest of the series, or even a couple more episodes to flesh them out a little better. The villain surprised me, and gave me Solomon flashbacks, especially in the manga version (which I’m only not reviewing because all my volumes are a six hour drive and three hours of searching my old room away). The cast with the movie was almost the exact same way, only even more rushed. We just weren’t given enough time or material to get an emotional connection to these characters, so instead of being this awesome, “Oh snap!” moment when things turn, we’re left going, “Eh.” Especially in the movie, since they went and had to introduce an almost brand new cast.
The plot took its sweet time building up, and once it did, it happened too much at once. It was trying to copy the rich plot of Blood +, but it was about a third of the length (not counting the movie). It was also trying to do the mystery aspect with Saya’s history, the love triangle plot trap, the link to the larger CLAMP universe with Watanuki and the wish shop…Though if you really think about that last one, it could explain the strange reason why Saya can’t kill humans. But that’s just my pet theory.
World-building wise, I felt like it took a left turn somewhere and I wasn’t with them. The Elder Bairns were not like anything that we saw in the first Blood movie, and they sure weren’t the Chiroptereans of Blood +. And beyond Saya’s special blood, there weren’t any real vampire hints, at least for most of the series. There was no clear reason why Saya and the Elder Bairns existed and why they were linked, or even how the father-figure came to exist in the first place and how he is either the same or different from Saya.
For the series as a whole, I think there were some interesting updates to the story, and the ties to CLAMP’s overarching world definitely offered some answers, admittedly very specifically for this version of Saya. But it was rushed, trying to do too much at the end, and a lot of practical information wasn’t given to us, or at least it wasn’t given in a way that made sense. I like that some of the flaws were lampshaded, but there were too many for me to let them all go. If they’d used a couple more episodes to explain the ending instead of what seemed like two or three episodes of filler, I think it would have been a lot more solid story. But that’s my aesthetic.
Overall, the Blood series offers very different takes on the same character. I’d gladly invest in another part of the franchise if they came out with another. (Seriously, I want a short series about the twins at the end of Blood +. I honesty thought that’s where Blood-C was going.) Each time it’s a little different, a little more of the mystery of Saya being revealed, and a twist I didn’t see coming (thank you, Watanuki). Sometimes they disappoint me, but I always leave with at least a little big of satisfaction.