Before I get into this review, there’s a few cards I want to have on the table. Call it me being open and fair, if you like. Really, it’s just because I don’t like to mislead people, if I can avoid it.
Trinity Blood is a series I own on dvd, which means I willingly went and bought the complete anime series, knowing exactly what I was doing. This may seem odd, as I’m about to give it a less than favorable review, but the truth is, I spent two weeks without internet, and ran through pretty much my entire anime dvd collection. Trinity Blood is the least good thing I own, I haven’t had a lot of time to look at something else, and so here we are.
Second thing is that I am really not one of those people who gets off on calling a thing overdone as soon as it becomes popular. Those people are dicks, who just like hearing themselves sound important and knowledgeable. If you love a thing, then that’s all that matters. When lots of other people love that same thing, you should get to be happy. Not act like a spoiled baby who has to share their favorite toy.
The reason I bring this up is because Trinity Blood, for those who haven’t seen it, is a vampire series. Vampires, as we all know from the times of sparkle madness, had a small resurgence in popularity. When I say small, I of course mean it in the same way as having the moon crashing into the Earth would be a little bad. They didn’t just boom, they sonic boomed, then ran over Sonic, defiled his corpse, served it for dinner, and shit out more booms.
Those were the days. Thank god they are over and everyone is bitching about zombies being overdone now.
My point with all this hyperbole is that it’s easy to lose sight of the good things Trinity Blood does, and just blow it of as another third rate entry in the vampire craze. It came out in 2005, but is based on novels that first hit the scene back in 2001, so it actually predates the worst of the sparkle times by a few years, and only really suffers under the “ugh, vampires, overdone” bullshit because it didn’t really catch the attention of American audiences until after the first of the I Hump Vampires movies came out.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that any negative marks I give this show aren’t because it’s a vampire story in the post Twilight world. It’s because, despite having a lot of good things going on, it’s not a very well written story, and doesn’t always make much sense. Which still makes it a work of art compared to Belle Swann: Vampire Hooker, but doesn’t excuse it from being a second rate show.
So, why did you buy it then, Cain? I imagine you asking.
Cause Storm enjoyed the shit out of it, and it was her birthday. Seeing her smile was the only reason I ever needed to do anything.
All that said, let’s get into what is likely going to be a rather brief review, as I don’t actually dislike this show, and don’t really want to beat it up for things that aren’t technically its fault. Also, it’s Tuesday night, after 6:00 P.M., and I still haven’t finalized the next chapter of Bill & Kris for Wednesday.
It’s been a rough few weeks, ya’ll.
What? I live in Oklahoma. Be glad I can remember to wear pants most of the time.
Trinity Blood is a 24 episode, 2005 series from studio Gonzo, maker of both hits and misses galore. While they turned out such shows as Vandread, Hellsing, Welcome to the N.H.K, The Tower of Druaga, and Seiyu’s Life, they also hunked shows like Strike Witches, Akiba’s Trip, Rosario + Vampire, and Samurai Girl into the world, too.
Lots of questionable decisions being made in those offices, is all I’m saying.
The story is set round about in the 31st century, after an apocalyptic battle nearly wiped out all life on Earth. Colonists on Mars, who had been turned into vampire like creatures called Methuselahs, returned to try and help rebuild, but more war broke out between them and normal humans, leading to a cold war between the Vatican controlled and the vampire controlled parts of the world. Independent nations do still exist, but most of the story really focuses on the human against vampire conflict.
Abel Nightroad is a priest in the service of the Vatican, but is also their secret weapon against vampires, as he is a Cruznik, a special type of vampire that feeds on other vampires. While most of the time he appears to be a somewhat befuddled, goofy, and easily confused idiot, when he takes on his vampire side, he becomes a terrifying, emotionless, dealer of death.
Most of the show followers his activities as he undertakes various missions for the Vatican, all with the hidden agenda to bring about an end to hostilities, and create a lasting peace between humans and vampires. At least until his siblings get involved. Cain (the other one, not me) and Seth, have their own agendas, and Abel often finds himself at cross purposes with them.
He also has to be careful within the halls of the Vatican itself, as Pope Alessandro is little more than a puppet, and his brother wishes an all out war with the vampires. The Pope’s sister, however, is hoping for peace, and uses her position as a Cardinal to try to secure it. Abel answers to her, Caterina Sforza, but the Pope himself knows little of who or what Abel is, with his brother, Francesco di Medici, knowing even less.
In general, Trinity Blood is actually a political intrigue story, just with vampires, cyborgs, and lots of action, all set around a re-imagining of the first children of Adam and Eve. That alone makes it kind of nifty, and fun to watch. Unfortunately it also ends up being the shows biggest weakness, and what drags it down.
Basically, it tries to do too many things, and doesn’t end up succeeding at all of them very well.
First off, the vampires aren’t really vampires. They are just genetically altered humans who happen to resemble the vampires of myth. Because of some kind of alien thingy they found on Mars. I think. The anime doesn’t really get into it very clearly. There was stuff, and stuff happened, and now there are vampires, and they are at war with humans.
This isn’t the most original concept, to be sure, though the political intrigue approach to it all does save it somewhat, as it moves the story from being another generic humans against vampires kind of thing, and actually casts both sides as needing to pull their heads out of their asses. Peace is possible, if everyone would back down from their bullshit stand, and just act like responsible adults.
So, yeah, much like in the real world, peace will never happen.
What I mean is, neither side is cast as the evil villains or the angelic heroes. Both are just as bad, and good, as the other. The show actually spends a lot of time on this, and that’s what a good political intrigue story needs to do. The sub genre plays in the moral gray zone a lot, and Trinity Blood does as well.
It’s just that, most of the intrigue ends up getting shuffled off the moment things get tense, so Abel can go all Cruznik and solve everything by being ungodly terrifying to everyone. This undermines the actual political intrigue, and more or less makes it meaningless as an actual narrative device, because every conflict more or less ends the exact same way.
Abel goes Cruznik, queue action music.
Of curse, when your main character is a walking superweapon, you need to find some way to introduce stakes, because even in a vampire story, those go right out the window because your main character is a literal walking superweapon. This is why we have Sister Esther, who works with Abel, and is maybe, possibly, his love interest. She’s also frequently in immediate danger, so Abel has some kind of stakes.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you why that’s a problem, but I will anyway, cause I’m that kind of a guy. Esther isn’t so much a character, as she is a plot device. Granted, Esther is a pretty well crafted and written character, but her primary function in the story is to be worried about Abel, and be in danger so Abel has stakes that somewhat cancel out his walking superweapon status. Outside of this, Esther has very little to do in the story, and most attempts at fixing this are lackluster at best.
Downright confusing at worst. Queen Esther? What the actual fuck?
Nor is she the only one who suffers from this. The cast for Trinity Blood is immense, and very few of the characters are overly well fleshed out. Just within the Vatican itself, Pope Alessandro is weak willed child, Francesco is your high school gym teacher, and Caterina is pretty much just the “strong female character” archetype with only minimal personality grafted on.
Abel frequently works with a cyborg named Tres, who is more or less just a ripped off version of Christian Bale’s character from Equilibrium, without any of the actual characterization. Kate Scott is the almost anime required cutesy holographic airship captain, and Wordsworth is the crazy inventor. It goes on and on like this, with pretty much all the characters just being classic archetypes with a thin veneer of personality painted over to make them seem less two dimensional.
This goes for the antagonists of the series, as well, with Cain being almost impossible to understand (Yes, I get the irony. Shut up.), and Seth being kind of hard to grasp in terms of motivation. In general, much of the story is just a slapdash adaptation of the novels and manga, both of which tell somewhat different stories to begin with, making the anime the third ugly stepchild.
Which isn’t to say that Trinity Blood is bad, exactly. It does do some interesting things, such as the Cruznik, a type of vampire that only feeds on other vampires. Bringing it all into a science fiction setting also surprisingly works pretty well, as does most of the actual intrigue that doesn’t end with Abel just slaughtering everyone in sight.
Most of what works, however, is the mood and atmosphere of the show. It’s very well done, with a real sense of the world being on the precipice of completely destruction. There’s a strong gothic quality to things that harkens back to the old Hammer vampire films, and in general, the world setting and feel of the show is quite well done.
For the most part. There’s times where they forget about it all and just do some really crazy, weird shit.
The animation is very well done, on the hand. The backgrounds are exceptional, and all the fight scenes are just stunning. The show is very pretty to look at, and that does matter. It doesn’t quite wallpaper over the faults, but it is nice that Gonzo really tried to make a good looking show.
Granted, the show is now 12 years old, so take that previous statement with a grain of salt. For the time it was made, it’s exceptionally well animated. By today’s standards, it’ll possibly look a bit clunky, especially the CG. Personally, I tend to take age into account, so to me, it’s still a really pretty series. Mileage may vary on that front, I suppose.
Overall, Trinity Blood is not a bad show, it just isn’t a great show, either. If you want some slick visuals, and just enough of a story to keep you watching, but don’t really want to think to hard about what it is your seeing, then it’s well worth your time. However, if you’re looking for a deeply thought out, well constructed plot, with nuanced characters, then this will probably leave you feeling a little disappointed.
Personally, I find it entertaining enough, but not something I think about very often. What it was about it all that captured Storm’s attention so fully, I’ll never know, but she did love it, so I can’t be too hard on it.
At the very least, Trinity Blood does try to be more than it is. It doesn’t really succeed, but trying does count for something.