Vampires at war, bloodlines run deep;
Brotherly love with fangs and a sword.
Today’s anime offering is from a couple of years ago, but it still holds up well. Black Blood Brothers sold me at the word vampire, but when I realized that the English vocal cast was basically a Black Butler fiesta, I couldn’t watch it soon enough.
This particular vampire tale centers on Jiro Mochizuki (the fellow in the smashing red hat) and his little brother Kotaro (the steampunk version of Honey-senpai). Both are vampires trying to make their way to a secret vampire city in Japan known as “The Special Zone.” Though it is ten years after a war called the Hong Kong Crusade, the battle resurfaces during the brothers’ journey and once they finally reach their destination. What’s all the fuss about? Well, there are three types of beings in this story. There are “Red Bloods,” which are your run-of-the-mill humans, and “Black Bloods,” which is the term for vampires (there are also “Old Bloods,” which are vamps who are over a hundred years old and possess special powers). However, there is also a special breed of vampire stemming from one bloodline, and they are known as the Kowloon Children. They cause trouble for everyone because, unlike regular Black Bloods, everyone they bite (vampire and human alike) turns into a Kowloon Child. They are a particularly wild pack of vampires with a near unquenchable bloodlust. If left unchecked Kowloon Children would soon overrun the entire world’s population. You see how this could be a problem.
The Hong Kong Crusade was when the Kowloon Children first came into existence and shortly thereafter began overpopulating the world, so much so that Black Bloods and Red Bloods fought together to extinguish them. Jiro Mochizuki, already an Old Blood, was the hero of the Crusade, and through his skill with a sword he came to be known as the Silver Blade. Once he and Kotaro try to enter the Special Zone, it becomes apparent that there are all kinds of plots and schemes brewing in order to restore power to the Kowloon bloodline. Despite his best intentions to stay away from conflict, Jiro will have to live up to his warrior moniker and fight in order to finally face down old enemies and keep Kotaro safe.
There was so much to love about this anime, but so much that could have been better. It’s always great for a fang lover like myself to find a fresh take on vampire lore, and Kōhei Azano’s storyline is definitely original. The characters were all very likable, and not just because I recognized so many voices from Black Butler (though that was a definite bonus!). It was bloody and sexy but not too graphic, which is how I like my anime. Zelman Clock, an Old Blood vampire with questionable loyalties, stood out as particularly enjoyable to watch. Mimiko Katsuragi, a human compromiser who has the task of helping Jiro and Kotaro, was a solid heroine, though I would have felt a stronger connection to her if more of her background had been shared.
And that’s where we get to the not so great part: throughout this all-too-short series, we get a whole hell of a lot of information, but at the end we’re left with an unheard of amount of questions. (Questions that will never be answered since there is neither a season two nor an English translation of Kōhei Azano’s light novel.) And the way in which the information is sparingly parceled out over the course of all twelve episodes can be confusing. I feel that this series would have benefited from one solid flashback episode, but instead we get mini-flashbacks throughout the entire story arc, and they’re all out of order so they don’t make a lot of sense. There’s such a thing as too much Tarantino-ing, and that’s what Black Blood Brothers suffers from most. The story is excellent and the characters are lively, but everything sort of becomes a jumbled mess. That said, it’s still a great anime, and I look forward to rewatching it now that I have a better grasp on what’s happening. I’d also love to see/participate in some Black Blood Brothers cosplay. If anyone knows where I can get Jiro’s hat, let me know!
Rating: ★★★★✰ So much potential, and it almost lived up to it.