Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Blood Blockade Battlefront Anime Review

Blood Blockade Battlefront Anime Review
Written by: ClayDragon
Written by Yasuhiro Nightow – the creator of TrigunBlood Blockade Battlefront (a.k.a. Kekkai Sensen) tells the story of amateur photographer Leonardo Watch (also known as Leo) and his everyday life in the madcap city that is Hellsalem’s Lot. See, three years before the story started, an interdimensional rift opened up in New York City, and this event (known as the Great Collapse) let in a whole lot of weird and wonderful creatures. Somehow, these creatures managed to integrate quite well into human society, and NYC was reborn as Hellsalem’s Lot – a chaotic mess of superpower-wielding people, giant alien creatures, non-Euclidean spaces, and normal humans.
Don't worry, Leo. You have plenty of time to get accustomed to your new colleagues. 
As you might imagine, the crime in Hellsalem’s Lot is a major issue, and that’s where Libra comes in. A secret society, Libra exists to counter the supernatural aspects of the city’s criminal underworld, and Leo finds himself drawn into this secret society almost completely by accident. But even this isn’t the whole story, as a mysterious entity gave Leo the All-Seeing Eyes of the Gods, which grant him a large variety of vision-based abilities (such as x-ray vision, projecting illusions and seeing auras).  Between Libra’s missions, Leo’s relationship with a hospitalised girl named White, and the plots of the city’s criminal elite, there’s a great deal going on in Hellsalem’s Lot. 
Just a normal day in the big city...
Blood Blockade Battlefront’s plot is relatively simple – each episode focuses on a specific event that the members of Libra get involved in, with each event ranging in scope from something as big as a city-wide threat to something as small as deciding where to eat for lunch. Whilst these incidents are mostly unconnected, the overarching plot involves Leo getting to know White and her brother Black, as well as their connection to the mysterious King of Despair. There are also constant references to the Great Collapse, and how its consequences continue to affect a number of characters.
I really, really want those eyes.
Speaking of characters, Blood Blockade Battlefront has a great cast. The main members of Libra manage to be both entertaining and badass, from the abusive asshole Zapp Renfro to the gentlemanly leader, Klaus Von Reinherz (who may have the coolest name in anime history). The other members of Libra sadly don’t get much screentime, although this is somewhat understandable considering how jam-packed this series really is. Suffice it to say that there wasn’t one character in this entire show that I didn’t like.
There's also these two. Dear god, I love these two.
However, there are two characters that really help to carry the show – Leo and White. Leo is an interesting subversion of your typical shonen protagonist in that he isn’t particularly fearless or powerful, and his main ability isn’t very combat-oriented. Yet his loyalty and courage more than make up for it, and he brings a touch of much-needed humanity to the series. Meanwhile, White acts as a maybe-love interest for Leo, and the relationship between herself and Black serves as a counterpart to that of Leo and his own sister, Michella, whilst hitting all the right emotional notes. The dynamic between Leo and White develops at just the right pace, and even if this show was just about the relationship between these two, I’d still watch it.
Damn it Leo! What did you say to make poor White cry?
The humour is another important aspect, and the show pretty much nails it. A fair amount of it is physical comedy, but the wacky characters and madcap setting mesh together to make it work. Zapp in particular is a great source of laughs due to his overconfident and narcissistic personality, but every character brings at least one funny moment to the table. There are a number of sad moments too, of course, but the series tends not to take itself too seriously. Each emotional moment, be it happy or sad, is played perfectly. 
Is that monkey old enough to drink?
Visually, Blood Blockade Battlefront is incredible. The character designs are interesting and varied, and the fight scenes are fluid and great to watch, with special mention going to the battle between Klaus and the King of Despair in the final episode. With regard to the backgrounds, the animators have completely outdone themselves. The scenery is beautiful, and you can tell that a massive amount of effort has gone into making Hellsalem’s Lot look as vibrant and detailed as possible. I mean, just look at the comparison picture below:
Real life on the left, anime on the right. Look how accurate it is!
The soundtrack is similarly amazing. There are over 30 pieces of background music, and I can’t think of one that I didn’t like. There’s such a huge variety, not only in the type of music but also the instruments. A large part of the soundtrack is jazzy saxophone music (which does fit the series perfectly), but it just helps to make the more unique tracks stand out even more. Don’t like saxophones? How about a track consisting almost entirely of didgeridoo music? Don’t like that? How about one which has a squeaky toy as a background instrument? Hell, Bach’s Air on the G String and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy make appearances. Even the opening and ending are brilliant. They’re catchy, very well-animated, and (in the case of the ending) pretty damn funny.
"Smile for the camera!"
To be honest, I was expecting Blood Blockade Battlefront to have only a mediocre dub at best. I don’t know why – it’s done by Funimation and their dubs are usually amazing – but all the same I wasn’t expecting much. Thankfully I was wrong, and the dub is brilliant. Whether or not it’s as good as the original Japanese is something for the individual viewer to decide, but I was more than happy to watch each episode twice – once for each language.
When you gaze into the monkey, the monkey also gazes into you.
Blood Blockade Battlefront is absolutely packed. It’s only 12 episodes long – one of those being a recap episode – and it never feels as though a scene was unnecessary or only put there to pad for time. Every frame is filled with detail, to the point where I’d actually recommend watching the dub purely because you’re bound to miss some details when you’re focusing on reading the subtitles. My only problem with this show is that one or two moments aren’t given the weight that they need because there’s so much stuff going on. But even then, those moments aren’t that important in the long run, so it doesn’t really matter. 
This is neither the first nor the last time Zapp tries this. It never ends well.
There’s so much to talk about with this show and even though I’ve tried, there was never any way I was going to be able to fit it all in one review. I haven’t even touched on Femt and Aligula, two of the funniest villains ever. Or the great dialogue between the characters. Or the awesome and unique powers that every member of Libra has. Or the fact that Episode 5 is one of my favourite anime episodes ever. Or the massive amount of references to other works – Stephen King, Pacific Rim, Scanners, The Sopranos, Cowboy Bebop, Spiderman… lots of shows and films are referenced (some more subtly than others) and it’s fun to see an anime give so many nods to western culture. 
Well, at least we know what's on Zapp's mind at the moment.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I love Blood Blockade Battlefront. It’s easily my favourite anime series of 2015, and in fact it’s one of my favourite anime series, full stop. It’s bursting with humour, action and emotion, and it’s so beautifully presented that I didn’t want to look away from the screen for even a second. The only problem that I have with it is that it’s far too short. Even though the anime covers the first six volumes of the manga, it only adapts half of the stories featured in those volumes. There's so much potential for a second season, and I really, really hope we get one. 
All this hassle for one box of pizza...

Good Things:    A solid cast of characters.
                           The relationship between Leo and White.

                           The emotional moments are played perfectly.

                           It’s goddamn hilarious.

                           The animation and soundtrack are both amazing, with a solid dub.

                           The references to a large variety of western and eastern media.

Bad Things:      I NEED MORE DAMMIT.

Final Verdict:    

I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if I talked about Blood Blockade Battlefront and didn't include this gif.
Do you have a suggestion for an anime I should review? Let me know in the comments, or submit it to! Thanks to the anonymous user who requested this review! (Sorry that it's taken so long to do, but I wanted to wait until the final episode had been dubbed before I wrote the review).
Don't worry, Leo. She only wants to talk about your love life.

ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at He has an account at When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. Reports of his death were greatly exaggerated.


  1. I love this anime. I think my favorite episodes are Episode 3 and 6, the first focused on Klaus and the second focused on Leo and Nej (tears were shed) :( .
    Klaus is my favorite character. Great review, I hope you will do more. Perhaps Death Parade?

    1. I don't think there was a single bad episode in this show. Personally, I loved episode 5 (the Monster truck episode) and episode 10 (the lunch episode).
      I love Klaus, but I think I have to say that Leo's my favourite.
      Thanks! I'm actually way ahead of you on that one - I've already done a review of Death Parade! Here's the link if you want:

  2. Yeah, this show was freaking glorious. Absolutely loved everything about it, and it's right on the verge of my "favorite anime ever" list. Just... that last episode really, really didn't sit with me too well. Maybe it was the three month wait, maybe it was the subtitles, I dunno. But it all felt really underwhelming to me.
    That said, everything else about the series was glorious. And ya know, it probably was the subs, since dubbed versions use the cleaned-up versions more often than not.

    1. This was easily my favourite anime of 2015, no question.
      I think part of the issue with the last episode was due to the fact that we had to wait so long. I felt the same way as you at first, but when I went back and watched the entire show at once it didn't bug me as much.
      I felt the subs were a bit clunky, and the dub did a better job of explaining some things, but apart from that I didn't have much to complain about.
      Somehow I completely missed this comment, sorry it's taken so long to reply!