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Black Blood Brothers – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 5, 2010 by  



If you love vampires and you love anime,  then you’ll enjoy “Black Blood Brothers”.  A more accessible anime series that doesn’t get too dark, twisted or bloody and it’s also a shorter anime series as 12-episodes long.  But FUNimation Entertainment does go all out in special features as each episode features an audio commentary.  A series definitely worth checking out!

Images courtesy of © 2006 Kouhei Azano, Yuuya Kusaka/Fujimushiba/BBB Partners. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Black Blood Brothers – The Complete Series

DURATION: Episodes 1-12 (288 Minutes)

 

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Dolby TrueHD English 2.0 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0, Subtitles: English

 

RATED: 17+

 

COMPANY: Showgate/FUNimation Entertainment

 

RELEASE DATE: August 31, 2010

 

Originally Created by Kouhei Azano

Directed by Hiroaki Yoshikawa

Series Composition by Yuu Sugitani

Original Character Design by Yuuya Kusaka

Character Design by Toshiyuki Sugano

Art Director by Yoji Yoshikawa

Chief Animation Director: Ayako Kurata

Animation Director: Toshiyuki Sugano

Mechanical Design by Nishiki Itaoka

Anime Production by Group TAC, Studio Live

 

 

Featuring the voices of:

Ryoko Nagata/Colleeen Clinkenbeard as Mimiko Katsuragi

Takahiro Sakurai/J. Michael Tatum as Jirou Mochizuki

Miyuki Sawashiro/Luci Christian as Cassandra Jill Warlock

Omi Minami/Leah Clark as Kotarou Mochizuki

Ayumi Tsuji/Cherami Leigh as Chan

Hiroki Yasumoto/Christopher R. Sabat as Cain Warlock

Hisao Egawa/Travis Willingham as Badrick Serihan

Jun Fukuyama/Jerry Jewell as Zelman Clock

Kana Ueda as Swan Chen

Ken Narita/Daniel Penn as Shougo Jinnai

Kousuke Toriumi/Todd Haberkorn as Zaza

Kumi Sakuma/Cynthia Cranz as Sayuka Shirane

Kyousei Tsukui/Kent Williams as Johan Tsang

Mami Kosuge/Monica Rial as Kelly Wong

Mikako Takahashi/Kate Oxley as Hibari Kusanoki

Motoko Kumai/Brina Palencia as Yafuri Chao

Mugihito/R. Bruce Elliott as Zhang Lei Kao

Omi Minami/Leah Clark as Alice

Reiko Takagi/Carrie Savage as Sei

Takashi Matsuyama/Mark Stoddard as Mitaka Onezawa

Yasuhiro Takato/Chris Cason as Rinsuke Akai

A decade has passed since the war between humans and vampires, when the infectious bite of the Kowloon Bloodline set the streets ablaze. Today, Jiro travels to the Special Zone, where the peace between vampires and humans is threatening to crack. As a new battle erupts between human soldiers, vampiric refugees, and Kowloon Children, Jiro must draw the Silver Blade once more.

 

From 2004-2006, author Kohei Azano and illustrator Yuuya Kusaka had worked on his light novel series “Black Blood Brothers” (a.k.a. BuBuBu) which was serialized in “Monthly Dragon Magazine” and “Monthly Dragon Age”.  In 2006, Studio Live and Group TAC produced a 12-episode anime series which aired on Tokyo MX.

With the popularity of vampire-based series and storylines in America as of late, now is a perfect time for FUNimation to release the vampire-based anime series on Blu-ray.

The series is directed by Hiroaki Yoshikawa (who worked on “Chaos;Head”, “Grenadier” and various “Pokemon” films), writer Yuu Sugitani (“Gin Rei”, “World of Narue”) and features character designs by Toshiyuki Sugano (various “Dragon Ball” related series, “Trigun”, “Gungrave”), art backgrounds by Yoji Yoshikawa (“Grenadier”, “EX-Driver”, “Aria the Natural”) and mechanical design by Nishiki Itaoka (“Grenadier”, “Alien Nine”).

The series revolves around an old noble vampire named Jiro Mochizuki (aka The Silver Blade) who found and defeated the Kowloon King and most of the vampiric Kowloon children during the war known as “Hong Kong Crusade”).  Ten years later, we find Jiro and his brother Kotaro wanting to reach the Special Zone (a city where humans and vampires live).

Along the way, they join human compromiser Mimiko Katsuragi who works for the Order Coffin Company (a company who watches over the vampires and suppresses them if they are a threat) who is taking them to the Special Zone.  But Jiro, Kotaro and Mimiko learn quickly that their arrival will be met with extreme dislike from the various vampire clans and for some reason, many wanting Jiro to leave the area immediately because he is looked as a vampire, despite being a  protector for humans and fighting against other vampires, as one who only attracts trouble.

But when attacks are being made against their lives in the Special Zone, Jiro wants to protect those close to him and knows quite well that trouble follows him everywhere.

“Black Blood Brothers” features the following characters:

  • Jiro Mochizuki – Also known as “The Silver Blade” and “Kin-Killer”, Jiro is an old noble vampire who sided with the humans to fight against the Kowloon Children.  Originally, he grew up in 19th Century London and was a Lt. in the Japanese Imperial Navy and was severely injured when protecting Alice.  He comes from a very special bloodline known as the Blood of the Sage and is an Old Blood.  He is a chosen guardian and despite wearing a clothing that covers most of his body, he is weak against water and sunlight.
  • Kotaro Mochizuki – Jiro’s 10-year-old brother who comes from the same bloodline and has no problems with water and sunlight.  Looks very different from Jiro and also has the ability to withstand major pain.  He bares a resemblance to a woman named Alice that Jiro knew back in the 19th Century.
  • Mimiko Katsuragi – A human compromiser for the Order Coffin Company who is mediating relations between vampires and humans.  She is helping Jiro and Kotaro in getting to the Special Zone and finding a home there.  She also seems to care for Jiro.
  • Cassandra Jill Warlock – An Old Blood who once was very good friends with Jiro and Alice, until the day she killed Alice. She is now the Lord of the Warlock family and is a reincarnation of Morgan the Witch.  She was also the first to be bitten by the founder the Kowloon bloodline.
  • Sei – The creator of the barrier of the Special Zone and controls the night of Hong Kong.  Despite his rebirth and appearance of a young child, he is very powerful.
  • Kain Warlock – An Old Blood who works with the Order Coffin Company. He was a guardian of Alice and from the same bloodline as Cassandra.  A powerful sorcerer and despite working with Jiro at times, he really dislikes him.
  • Zelman Clock – One of the rulers of the Special Zone who works for evil it seems.  He is arrogant and an 800-year-old Old Blood.  From the bloodline of Asura, the great warrior and is very powerful.  Leads “The Coven”.
  • Kelly Wong – The only vampire from her clan who got to enter the Special Zone thanks to Mimiko.
  • Jinnai Shogo – Mimiko’s boss and head of the Compromisers.  He reports to the Order Coffin Company and one of the leaders of the Special Zone.

“Black Blood Brothers – The Complete Series” features episodes 1-12 on two Blu-ray discs. Here is a basic, spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – “Black Blood Brothers” – The introduction of the characters and Jiro and Kotaro returning to Japan and wanting to go to the Special Zone.
  • EPISODE 2 – “Compromiser” – Mimiko is dispatched to help Jiro and Kotaro who agrees to help them find the Special Zone.
  • EPISODE 3 – “Kowloon Child” – Kotaro is kidnapped by a vampire named Johan who wants to use him in order to get him and other vampires into the Special Zone.
  • EPISODE 4 – “Old Blood” – Ross is being accused of the death of Hughes.
  • EPISODE 5 – “Special Zone” – Mimiko tries to help Jiro and Kotaro find a home and are attacked by the Coven and their leader August.
  • EPISODE 6 – “Coven” – Jiro, Kotaro and Mimiko meet with Zelman.  Meanwhile, Kain tells Jiro he must leave the Special Zone.
  • EPISODE 7 – “Silver Blade” – Someone has tried to kill Mimiko by destroying her apartment and now Jiro wants revenge.
  • EPISODE 8 – “Protector” – Jiro fights with Yafuri and learns about the Kowloon Children’s plans and that Cassandra is coming for him.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 9 – “Eleventh Yard” – Mimiko and Kelly try to look for Jiro (who is looking for Kotaro).  Meanwhile, Kelly’s true identity is revealed.
  • EPISODE 10 – “Order Coffin Company” – Cassandra holds Mimiko captive and plans to turn her into a Kowloon child.  Kotaro and Zelman try to rescue her.
  • EPISODE 11 – “The Ocean” – Zaza takes on Jiro, meanwhile the Special Zone is going through major chaos.
  • EPISODE 12 – “For the Eternal Pulse of Mine Bloodline, I Would Offer This Blood in Totality” – Jiro reveals the true identity of Kotaro, his true goal and the revelation of the Special Zone and the Eleventh Yard.

VIDEO:

“Black Blood Brothers – The Complete Series” is presented in 1080p HD 16×9. The series was released in 2006 and is an upscale, but picture quality-wise, it is a good upscale in which edge enhancement is limited and I did not see any combing or major compression artifacts.  Blacks are nice and deep and I’ve checked to see if there was  lot of haloing and I didn’t see too much of it, but there are scenes where you do see it but by no means is it distracting at all.

At first, I had questioned the overall look of this vampire anime series.  I thought Jiro’s red outfit was somewhat lame at first.  But actually, the costume kind of grown on me and if anything, I can possibly see how cosplayers would go crazy to dress like Jiro or the Dark covenant.  But character designer Toshiyuki Sugano (worked on key animation for “Dragon Ball” related series) did a good job with the overall character designs.  There is a bit of softness to the overall look and feel to the series.

As for art backgrounds, this is where things differ quite a bit.  At times, there are backgrounds that really look nice and some that look plain.  Usually, Yoji Yoshikawa is known for solid background art, from his work on “Aria”, “Grenadier” and “EX-Driver” but according to the director in the final episode audio commentary, the production group were under the gun in trying to produce this anime series to the final seconds of it having it released and aired on Tokyo MX.

So, it does explain why the series does utilize mostly close up face shots and very little art backgrounds and there are some frames where the blue lines are seen instead of black.

Up-close animation was good and some of the fighting scenes were cool but it’s a series that doesn’t show fluid battle scenes, more like pieces of scenes of Jirou slashing a vampire rather than the actual frames of action of him doing it.  But I figured that since it is shown on Tokyo MX (and is the home for Tokyo Governor Ishihara, the Hanshin Tiers and F.C Tokyo) and is partially owned by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, you’re not going to see major violence.  There is a small amount of blood but nothing to be scared of.

If anything, the more mature themes, comes from the English dub dialogue (which uses profanity) but other than that, the series is not scary at all.

Overall, animation is fine, while the final episode was especially well-done.

AUDIO:

“Black Blood Brothers – The Complete Series” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 and in Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  I have to admit that I was surprised to find out that this action-driven anime series was presented in English Dolby TrueHD 2.0 since most of the anime releases have received a 5.1 lossless soundtrack.

So, for the most part, both lossless soundtracks are front channel driven.  Those with a modern receiver can receive a more immersive soundtrack by having their receiver set on stereo on all channels but for the most part, both lossless soundtracks are front channel-driven.

I watched the series both in Japanese and English and both are well-done.  I actually enjoyed the English dubbed soundtrack a lot and did test this disc on a few systems and screens. Audio is crisp and clear and its important to note that the English version does give it a more mature feeling because of the profanity that is used.  Much different dialogue than its Japanese counterpart.

I will say that the subtitling may be hard to read for those with smaller screens, especially since it utilizes a smaller white font.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Black Blood Brothers – The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 Commentary – Audio commentary by original creator Kouhei Azano, voice actress Mikako Takahashi (Hibari) and Ryoko Nagata (Mimiko).
  • EPISODE 2 Commentary – Audio commentary by original creator Kouhei Azano, voice actress Mikako Takahashi (Hibari) and Ryoko Nagata (Mimiko).
  • EPISODE 3 Commentary – Audio commentary by original creator Kouhei Azano, voice actress Mikako Takahashi (Hibari) and Kaki Ueda (Swan).
  • EPISODE 4 Commentary – Audio commentary by original creator Kouhei Azano, voice actress Mikako Takahashi (Hibari) and Kaki Ueda (Swan).
  • EPISODE 5 Commentary – Audio commentary by voice talents Mikako Takahashi (Hibari), Kaki Ueda (Swan), Hiroki Yasumoto (Cain Warlock).
  • EPISODE 6 Commentary – Audio commentary by voice talents Mikako Takahashi (Hibari), Kaki Ueda (Swan), Hiroki Yasumoto (Cain Warlock).
  • EPISODE 7 Commentary – Audio commentary by voice talents Mikako Takahashi (Hibari), Kaki Ueda (Swan), Ryoko Nagata (Mimiko) and original series creator Kouhei Azano.
  • EPISODE 8 Commentary – Audio commentary by voice talents Mikako Takahashi (Hibari), Kaki Ueda (Swan), Hiroki Yasumoto (Cain Warlock) and original series creator Kouhei Azano.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 9 Commentary – Audio commentary by voice talents Mikako Takahashi (Hibari), Kaki Ueda (Swan), Hiroki Yasumoto (Cain Warlock) and original series creator Kouhei Azano.
  • EPISODE 10 Commentary – Audio commentary by voice talents Mikako Takahashi (Hibari), Kaki Ueda (Swan), Ryoko Nagata (Mimiko) and original series creator Kouhei Azano.
  • EPISODE 11 Commentary – Audio commentary by voice talents Mikako Takahashi (Hibari), Kaki Ueda (Swan) and original series creator Kouhei Azano.
  • EPISODE 12 Commentary – Audio commentary by voice talents Mikako Takahashi (Hibari), Kaki Ueda (Swan) and original series creator Kouhei Azano.
  • Original TV Spots – (2:27) Original Japanese TV commercial spots. (presented in standard definition)
  • Original Commercials – (4:29) Original commercials for the various DVD releases in Japan (presented in standard definition).
  • Sneak Peeks – (5:16) “Black Blood Brothers” sneak peaks (presented in standard definition).
  • Textless Opening Song – Ashita no Kioku
  • Textless Closing Song – Shikirou
  • Trailers – Upcoming FUNimation Entertainment Trailers.

I have to admit that with the vampire craze still in full-effect in the US, it’s perfect timing for FUNimation Entertainment to take advantage of the craze by releasing the anime series “Black Blood Brothers”.

As mentioned earlier, I was taken back by the red outfit of the main protagonist, Jiro.  I was not feeling any love for this vampire in a red campy outfit but it somehow grew on me and I figured that the Victorian look for some of these vampires will surely attract the cosplayers out there.

But I found the storyline to be quite interesting.  In a “Angel” (for the “Buffy the Vampire” series fans) type of way, having this vampire take on other vampires is pretty cool.  Granted, you’re not going to find any major love between the characters of Jiro and the human Mimiko but their friendship and their adventures through the Special Zone was quite interesting to watch.

The characters, primarily with the three main characters, Jiro, Kotaro and Mimiko were fun to watch, as the humorous banter between the three characters is quite fun to watch at times.  Especially to see Jiro teasing Mimiko and to see her get very violent when she feels she is being teased.  And as for Kotaro, it’s interesting to see Jiro punish his young brother by slamming his head into the wall (yes, Kotaro is a young boy but he is immune to having his face bashed to a wall or being thrown around).

I’m not too familiar with the light novel series from Kouhei Azano, so I’m not too sure of how much of the actual storyline was not featured on the anime series but judging from this series alone, viewers should be content that you do receive some closure with this series and it helps to know that this is a short anime series at 12-episodes long.  Also, Azano does play a major role in the audio commentary included in this Blu-ray release.

“Black Blood Brothers” may not be a blood-fes nor a dark, violent anime series but it is a fun and enjoyable series and for the most part, an easily accessible short anime series from FUNimation Entertainment on Blu-ray.  I know that there are people who will balk at the decision to not have a lossless 5.1 soundtrack but I’m not going to complain for a series that was released in 2006.

But PQ for an upscale and the inclusion of the Japanese lossless 2.0 soundtrack should make some fans happy.  Also, this release also has a lot of audio commentary (one for each episode) by the original Japanese voice talent and a few with the original creator Kouhei Azano plus a good amount of extra special features included as well.   This may be the first anime series on Blu-ray in the US to have a commentary track for each episode which is fantastic!

It’s important to note that the series is not for younger audiences.  For the most part, it’s a safe, accessible anime series that doesn’t show too much blood but it does have its darker moments and the anime series English soundtrack does have its fair share of profanity.

Overall, “Black Blood Brothers” is a fun, vampire anime series with a good amount of humor, drama and action.  It’s not the best anime TV series on Blu-ray in the US but it’s easy to get into and it is quite fun and very enjoyable and despite being only 12 episodes long, the series makes up for it with the Japanese audio commentary for each episode, which is rarity for any anime Blu-ray or DVD release, especially to have the original creator involved.  That is very rare.

So, I really enjoyed this release and the “Black Blood Brothers – The Complete Series” is definitely worth checking out!

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