In a small town with a sinister secret, mysterious monsters feed on human flesh, but a schoolgirl with a sword may be their only hope of survival.
What did you watch?
This was the second series from my A to Z Anime Challenge. I remember watching a short movie back in the days of VHS called Blood: The Last Vampire, which was very cool. So, when I saw the cover art for this series, I assumed it must be connected and decided to watch it. It was connected. I’m also a bit of a sucker of vampires (pun intended) and girls with swords, so it wasn’t too hard a decision to pick this one up. This post will contain spoilers and they’re pretty significant, so if you don’t want to know, go watch the anime right now. I’ll wait…
Saya is your average schoolgirl. Well, not quite average. She lives at a shrine with her father, a stoic and serious man. When she’s not doing her chores around the shrine or going to school, she fights demonic creatures called Elder Bairns who feast on human flesh.
As more and more people go missing, Saya’s fights intensify. Then, several of the Elder Bairns accuse her of violating a covenant, but she has no idea what they are talking about and her father can offer nothing more on the topic.
Saya also suffers from memory loss and gets debilitating headaches whenever she tries to remember certain things. Despite all this, she is a cheerful and hopeful girl who sings on her way to school and is always pleasant… well, unless you’re an Elder Bairn…
What did you think?
I was drawn in by my experience with Blood: The Last Vampire and was instantly rewarded with a beautifully choreographed fight scene in the first episode. I’ll get to it later, but the fights truly are spectacular. This series really has got some twists in it and I would recommend that anyone watching comes into it blind, so if you still haven’t seen it despite my earlier warnings, now is the time to make up for that. If nothing else, we really need to discuss the ending…
What was your favourite moment?
I loved all of the fights, but it was the first one that really stood out to me. Saya wanders through the forest with her katana in hand, before emerging to a large calm lake. Something seems to be standing on the water. Saya unsheathes her sword and races towards it. The entire scene was stunning. The atmosphere was tense and the camera angles masterfully chosen. Just watch the first episode and get ready for the final scene.
What was your least favourite moment?
All right, so this is where it kind of all fell to pieces for me. I still loved it, but this is what stops me from screaming about it from the rooftops. There are several mysterious cut scenes with blood in glass vials floating in water and hanging from the ceiling. A softly spoken voice contemplates some philosophical question.
Now, these scenes themselves were nicely done, but my problem is with the voice. I regularly recognize voices between anime, so how hard will it be for me to spot the same voice in the same anime. They obviously wanted to keep it a secret which makes it all the more annoying. It definitely shattered the illusion and had me guessing a lot of the twists long before they happened.
Who was your favourite character?
That’s easy. It’s Saya. She is incredible. I loved the way it played with the two sides of her, from the enthusiastic schoolgirl to the vicious killer. She was obviously in all the fights too, so that helped a lot, especially considering how amazing they were. Did I tell you how awesome the fights are in this series? The best thing is how varied the Elder Bairns are and how that shapes the fights.
Who was your least favourite character?
Fumito, the owner of the cafe across from the shrine who cooked for Saya and his father. The reasoning stems from my earlier gripe about voices. I’ll say no more.
Which character needs more screen time?
I actually don’t think anyone needs any more time. All of the school friends were given plenty of time. Maybe the teacher, Kanako could have got some more time to explain her involvement in everything, but it wouldn’t have been necessary. Just give us more of Saya fighting Elder Bairns.
Would you like some more?
This series had a style and fluidity unlike anything else I’ve seen. The characters were drawn tall and lean, almost too tall from time to time, but I still enjoyed it. It’s related to Blood: The Last Vampire from 2000 and there was another series Blood+ which I haven’t seen. Finally, there is a movie Blood-C: The Last Dark which I’ll be posting my review of shortly.
Overall, I really enjoyed this series right up until the end. The whole twist and reveal felt a little stupid and a bit obvious if you’d been paying attention to the smaller details. I also feel like I need to mention the artificial Elder Bairns that removed all trace of the town in a series of horrific and disturbing scenes. That was messed up.
What have you learnt?
I like to play with the tempo in fight scenes, using sounds and short sentences to quicken the pace. The fights in this were beautiful and I’d love to spend a little more time really analyzing them. It’s obviously hard to translate something as visually stunning into a written passage without the benefit of music, but I’m going to try.
Other Posts in the Series
- A to Z Anime Challenge