Blood Blockade Battlefront was one of our favourites from the Spring anime lineup this year. But the final episode was delayed for three months due to apparently there being too much content. So, finally, after the three month wait, was the ending worth it? Well... Kind of...
Blood Blockade Battlefront is a supernatural story that takes place in a parallel universe where a portal to eldritch horrors opened underneath New York. Rather than the world coming to an end, it turns out that, for the most part, the creatures that came forth just wanted to live their lives as much as humans do and thus New York has become Hell Salem's Lot, a city of men and monsters, coexisting in a fragile peace and going about their daily lives, hoping that some behemoth doesn't accidentally step on them while it strolls through the city.
The protagonist is a young man named Leonardo Watch, who has been gifted with the All Seeing Eye -- an ability to see literally everything, from the smallest mite to the true names of vampires. Through a coincidental chain of events, Leonardo comes to join the secret organisation, Libra -- a group of talented individuals who fight to maintain balance between the human world and the supernatural.
Blood Blockade Battlefront is based on a manga of the same name by author, Yasuhiro Naito, the creator of Trigun. As people who have seen or read Trigun can attest, Naito excels at world-building and Blood Blockade Battlefront is no different. The world portrayed is quite frankly colourful and wild. Creatures and characters of all sizes and shapes inhabit it with their own lives and ways of living/dealing with the chaos. The city is its own character and a very interesting one at that.
The series also carries Naito's signature style of being fun and lighthearted on the surface, while carrying serious and rather dark undertones, which seems contradictory, but actually works in an entertaining and enjoyable manner.
The cast is equally colourful -- a veritable pot-luck of characters with different backgrounds, abilities and lore to go with them. The series is for the most part episodic and each episode that focuses on a different individual character is quite entertaining, especially when it expands the world at large. Unfortunately, some of the primary characters such as the teleporting agent, Chain Sumeragi, and the ice-wielding Steven A. Starphase never really get a chance to really occupy the limelight, which is a disappointment, but sadly understandable for a series with such a limited number of episodes.
Unfortunately, while many of the characters are interesting, with hints of more background, it's a bit of an uneven bag. A few of the characters -- namely, the series heroine and the main antagonist -- are somewhat boring and cliché, and every time they showed up on screen I would roll my eyes and wish the story would get back to someone more interesting.
In terms of story, the over-arching apocalyptical plot felt unimaginative and out of tone with the individual events from each episode. It says something when a single episode about a cute fungus kid elicits a much stronger emotional response than the epic tale of a brother and a sister mixed up in a plot to protect the whole world from teetering on the brink of destruction. It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to discover that most of the weak points of the series are original elements created for the anime and not from the source material at all.
Episode 11 ends on a cliffhanger with the protagonist, Leonardo, heading out to stop the evil Black from breaking the barrier that keeps the really evil stuff from entering our world. Unfortunately, Episode 12 was not aired back in July when it was supposed to. The creators cited "too much content" as the reason for the delay of the finale. A 30 minute episode would not be able to cover everything that was supposed to happen, so, due to scheduling issues, the last one hour episode did not get aired until October.
Honestly, after three months of waiting, the last episode of Blood Blockade Battlefront was a bit of a letdown. It wasn't bad in any sense of the term, but it didn't really do anything that made me feel it warranted the waiting period. The characters have their final confrontations and pretty much everything that was hinted would happen or any educated anime-viewer would expect to happen happens. So long. Happy ending. Hello World. If nothing else, it serves as a decent capper to a really good series, but really didn't need the waiting period.
All in all, Blood Blockade Battlefront was a beautiful jewellery box filled with glittering stones that are individually beautiful, but when you put them on a string to make a necklace, on a whole, they lose a lot of their shine. Plus it feels like some of the most precious gems were left in the box. It's a fun, funny, and entertaining series with great music and charismatic characters in a world you wish could be explored more. It's worth a watch, and if any individual episodes really catch your eye, I'd suggest checking out the original manga which, as of writing, is still ongoing.
Blood Blockade Battlefront can be viewed with subtitles on AnimeLab.