I remember watching Black Blood Brothers on Kids Station when it originally aired, with reasonable anticipation each week. This was not because the series was particularly outstanding or original, rather it was because I had been thriving for a vampiric themed series for a while (reminiscing to such delights as Hellsing and Vampire Hunter D). Furthermore, I had briefly read the light novel the series is based on with lasting enjoyment. This was more so for the beautifully drawn characters by Yuuya Kusaka, but also because the plot proved worthwhile. The anime series attempts to address the main story from the light novel, but given the length at 12 episodes, there was never a definitive ending or resolution. It sharply cuts off midway with a notable lack of background story, thus leaving many plot lines entirely open and unanswered. For instance, the war in Hong Kong is mentioned fairly frequently throughout the series, with the inclusion of a few clips concerning the events that surrounded the war, but ultimately there isn’t a clear picture of what happened and why; especially the question of why Casa became “evil”. Still, these plot holes are probably less apparent for those who haven’t read the light novel. I’m supposing if a sequel were to be released (unlikely but possible), these could be amended.
The story begins during a fictional war called the Hong Kong Crusade, where an ‘Old Blood’ vampire named Jiro Mochizuki, commonly known as ‘the Silver Blade’, fought and defeated the Kowloon King, along with his children, known appropriately as the ‘Kowloon Children’. In the foreseeable future, our main character arrives in Japan to seek out his little brother, Kotaro, in hopes of reaching ‘The Special Zone’, a thriving secret utopia where vampires and human beings live alongside. As Jiro endeavors to reach the ‘Special Zone’, he encounters many enemies of new and old, including many of the lasting survivors of the Kowloon Children.
The one particular aspect of the series I liked was the portrayal of the vampiric race, of whom are able to coexist with human beings in this ‘Special Zone’. It’s a nice contrast from the usual stance that vampires are an ‘evil’ race by nature. The notion that human beings can fight alongside vampires isn’t particularly original in context, but the approach used in Black Blood Brothers is refreshing. It’s also interesting to acknowledge that unlike other series of its kind, the abilities and weaknesses that each vampire possessed are different. The main story, similar to the light novel, follows the conflict between Jiro and Casa, amidst Jiro’s quest to protect Koutaro, along with his human ‘Compromiser’ Mimiko from the ‘Company’, an ambiguous corporation that governs the ‘Special Zone’, but everything on the whole is limited. Each relationship is touched upon, but is never conclusive or fully realised.
The characters are likable, although are fairly conventional in practice. Jiro, our main protagonist, is over protective, quick to anger, and frustratingly immature for someone who is supposedly over 100 years old. Also, staying true to its genre of shounen, Jiro is only at his strongest when he, through the support of his friends, realises he has something or someone to protect, – otherwise he inevitably falls short, losing to proposed weaklings and/or suffering from continued injury. The secondary main character, Kotaro, follows the typically innocent child archetype, who aspires to make friends and bring out the softer side of our chauvinistic hero. In the same vein, Mimiko is an innocent young woman that is adamant to protect and act against the discrimination of vampires, while developing her relationship with Jiro. However, the side characters are surprisingly intriguing, notably the ‘Old Blood’ vampires Cain, Sei and Zelman, each of whom are portrayed as tremendously powerful, gradually unveiling their powers throughout the course of the series. Personally, I would have liked to see more of them, as they are ironically (and somewhat sadly) more interesting than the main cast themselves. In regard to the villains, the primary antagonist, Casa, is rather interesting, as opposed to her dimwitted ‘brothers’, that are very irritating. This is especially so for Jaffery who is, in my opinion, the most annoying character in the entire series. Unfortunately, Casa was never explored in any great depth, with the major aspect of her character, the supposed “betrayal” of Jiro and Alice, never explicitly addressed.
TAC and Live did an average job with the production, it’s average for its period or below par if you start to compare it to its contemporaries. I didn’t have any qualms at the time. The vampiric powers were detailed particularly well and the line work was sharp and animate. The soundtrack, if I’m completely honest, seemed nonexistent. I’m struggling to remember any music from the series, including the opening and ending songs. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the series, but even so. The voice acting was moderate, nothing spectacular.
This review will obviously project a general disdain for the series, but this isn’t my intention. I actually enjoyed the series overall. I guess, I went a little rampant with what the anime series didn’t have as opposed to what it did have. In essence, Black Blood Brothers is an enjoyable action series that isn’t groundbreaking or memorable, but will entertain you throughout.