First Impressions: Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront)
Beware of spoilers below! You have been warned!
There seems to be a surge in interest towards the supernatural in a couple of shows as of late. Animes like Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront), Owari no Seraph (Seraph of the End), Arslan Senki (The Heroic Legend of Arslan) and Kyoukai no Rinne.
Of these, I am mostly enthralled by the curious world of Jerusalem’s Lot in Kekkai Sensen, or fictional New York, if that’s how you prefer to call it.
The origin of this place is rather straightforward. Strange portal opens and out pours monsters and otherworldly creatures, in addition to a mysterious fog that envelopes the entire city, cutting off all outside contact. The phenomena did not have an explanation. I assume it will be revealed much later, or never will.
Oddly enough, the humans and creatures manage to co-exist, save for a few rogues and villains bent on wrecking havoc. This is where secret organisation ‘Libra’ comes in, with the purpose of ‘maintaining the balance between both worlds’. One not-so-ordinary teenager named Leonard Watch gets caught up in the action thanks to a case of mistaken identity. He eventually joins forces with Libra in an attempt to seek out answers about an incident that occurred six months prior to the events in Episode 1.
Each of them are equally likeable, even the demented villain we were introduced to in the pilot episode. There is no damsel in distress or the cliché character that is utterly useless in the beginning (but becomes overpowered at the end). The characters are all capable of handling their own. Which, I must say, is very admirable and adds to the enjoyment of the show. After all, having to stomach a main character constantly being a pain in the neck would be awful, wouldn’t it?
Not gonna lie, I found Leonardo Watch to be quite the wimp at first. After all, he did stand frozen as his sister gave up her eyesight to save his. But perhaps I’m being a bit too harsh. Being placed in such a position, I may very well pee myself. His power from “God’s Eyes”, while seemingly useful in situations such as collecting intelligence (way way way more than the average human or monster), doesn’t seem to provide any form of offensive or defensive abilities. I was soon proven wrong though, as seen in Episode 2 where he uses his eyes to throw off the enemies. Similar to a jamming device? I’m looking forward to see what developments will occur from here on out.
No major diving into character development yet. Hence, the only ones that caught my attention are the flashy characters. We have Zapp Renfro, a hot-headed dude whose personality clashes with Leonardo, providing a hilarious combination. And we have Femt, the King of Depravity who has a screw loose. I have never seen an anime character that smacks his head against the camera when greeting the city.
Superb. Special effects and CGI were beautifully executed. The art style is eye-catching. The entire thing is a visual feast. I heard from a fellow viewer that the action scenes are directed by Rie Matsumoto. To quote his words, she has a “unique take on action”. And it shows.
Jazzy soundtrack? Yes, please! I’m not exactly sure why but this New York gives off jazzy vibes. Other soundtracks are nicely fitted into various moments. I especially like the ending for Episode One, where they settled on using the opening song to conclude it. In my opinion, the OP started off good, but as it continued it grew a little bland. Slightly contradicting, isn’t it? I liked it as part of the ending but on its own it’s ‘meh’.
As for the ED (appeared by the second episode), it was much more lively. It had an addictive groove to it. Bonus marks for sounding adorable as well. Did I mention it was made ten times better with the characters dancing in sync with it? We get to see a cheeky grin from Leonardo with those blue eyes of his too!
The story so far
In a nutshell, “What the hell is going on?” Merely two episodes in and the series is already brimming with questions. I had to re-watch the first episode twice to get a hang of the plot. There was just so much crammed into that one episode. Pause. Play. Pause. Play. Rinse and repeat. Thankfully, the chunks of information were not that off-putting, with the exception of one or two walls of text. Once you overcome the confusion, everything is rather straight-forward so far.
I especially like the fact that this is taking place in modern New York. The modern feel seems to flow with the plot very well. Honestly, I was taken aback when they showed scenes of humans and creatures living out their lives together. I never would have visualised a squid-faced creature in classy wear busking on the streets of New York. Get used to the abnormal, and it becomes normal. We get many references to real life too (Pacific Rim, Domino’s Pizza, Youtube etc.).
We have some interesting superpowers at play here. The blood techniques of Kekkai Sensen are reminiscent of another anime by the name of Deadman Wonderland. Not saying there is any copying involved. In fact, at first sight, you can’t tell that the glittery or ‘dark-aura-looking’ effects are blood. It seems that the characters require a vessel to use their powers, such as Zapp’s lighter or Klaus’ knuckles. Furthermore, the blood techniques are limited to the vampires. We have werewolves, mummies and ice(?) people within Libra. Plus, Leonardo’s “God’s Eyes”. There are sneak peeks, however, I am anticipating the moment they unleash their abilities in future episodes.
This anime may very well be a breath of fresh air for 2015. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.