Trinity Blood begins with a fantastic idea: If vampires are creatures that feed on humans, what kind of creatures feed on vampires? It then spends as much time and energy as possible doing absolutely nothing with this concept. Instead, it gives us a story that’s so fractured, aimless and uninteresting it’s like reading notes prepared for another, better treatment of the subject. But it sure looks pretty, and if that’s all you care about, that’s about all you’re going to get. It’s a résumé for its design team.
The series opens several hundred years into the future, after a war has devastated most of the planet (although they’ve done a mighty nice job of rebuilding everything in European Gothic). Society is split into two mutually hostile camps: the vampires, who style themselves the “Methuselas”; and humanity, or “Terrans”, whose sole form of social organization at this point appears to be the Catholic Church. There is a lot of technology left over from the old days, most of it in the form of plot devices—like a satellite that can incinerate a building from orbit, or computers that seem to exist for no other reason than to be hacked and overridden.
The hero of the show, Father Abel Nightroad, is a Vatican representative with a fairly hefty secret: he is indeed one of those few creatures who prey on vampires. When he’s not actually fighting vampires, he’s a lovable dip who’s bad with money, and what conflicts he does encounter never test him all that deeply. He’s an uninspired rehash of another, far more compellingly-written anime character: Vash the Stampede—or, better yet, Himura Kenshin. Both Kenshin and Vash—the former more than the latter, really—were surrounded by a story that supported them and made sense, and Kenshin had a gallery of memorable and intelligent supporting characters to give him context. Nightroad’s enemies have all the depth of drop targets in a pinball game, each with their own out-of-the-box angst that’s as disposable as his own.
Blood is terribly fractured. The episodes break down into standalone events that don’t connect very elegantly with each other, so the writers fall back on a good deal of uninteresting parallel plotting in the Vatican to bridge things as best they can. If you’re looking for a textbook example of a show that falls flat on its face most specifically because of bad writing, this is it. The ideas and even the setting are not really what’s problematic; it’s the way those things are converted into drama—or maybe better to say, the way they’re not turned into drama. Things get brought up, tossed out, ignored, resurrected later on in a wholly arbitrary way, and finally just wasted.
I can’t complain about the show’s look—actually, I was surprised most of all by the excellent, driving musical score, which deserves to be rescued from the show that spawned it and appreciated on its own. But the show itself is a near-total loss. From what I understand Blood was actually adapted from a series of light novels, and from what I’ve seen of how these things turns out, they might simply have been too faithful to something that just didn’t deserve that kind of fidelity. Who cared if the final result was a soulless clone of better work? Evidently no one.
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