Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Mar 4th 2007
Father Nightroad's attempt to arrange a meeting between his boss and a vampire envoy from the Empire stumbles when an unexpected betrayal leaves his rag-tag bunch with a serious dearth of allies. Later Esther turns into an unexpected asset when her friendship with a vampire noble provides her and Nightroad with an excuse to journey to the Empire. As it turns out, the Empire is just as factious as the Vatican, and in short order some political machinations find them accused of slaughtering vampire nobles.
In previous volumes it was convenient to blame Trinity Blood's limpness on its sluggish pace and one-shot short-story structure, but that's no longer an option. This volume's four episodes feature a continuous plot, in addition to copious gun-and-sword play and such time-honored plot spice-ups as betrayal and conspiracy. So why does it feel just as deficient?
Well, to begin with, the big drama, make 'em weep emotional scenes are still composed entirely of situations, reactions, and dialogue that pretty much any anime fan has seen a dozen times over, and the suspense is sucked dry (random vampire reference!) by the fact that every problem is eventually resolved via Nightroad's overwhelming power. Evil folks plot something. Nightroad & Co get caught up in it. Much running and hiding commences. Nightroad goes Crusnik and whacks all the baddies. The end. It may work in Naruto, but you expect more from something that aims higher up the demographic ladder. It doesn't help things that Nightroad still hasn't licked that problem with preaching nonviolence one moment and slicing people in half the next. Or beefed up his weirdly bland personality (weird given the fact that he keeps company with interesting folks like Kenshin Himura and Vash the Stampede). In fact, Sister Esther is so much more interesting than Nightroad that you can't help wishing that the writers would just get it over with and rewrite her into the main role.
Which is why Esther's increased role in this volume helps considerably, as she gets a chance to form an amusing bond with young vampire noble Ion and display her growing confidence and assertiveness. Even Esther is not immune to the writers' short memory however. Much was made of the murder Esther committed in the opening episodes, yet no one so much as blinks in these episodes when she pulls a shotgun from her bloomers and starts blowing holes in vampires. Moral inconsistency aside, the increase in action is welcome, providing some visceral thrills, and a smidge of tension with the involvement of the vulnerable and still-inexperienced Esther. And, whatever else can be said about them, the fights this volume are visual treats. The hand-to-hand combat is fluid and dynamic (if hampered by too many inferred actions), and Gonzo provides viewers with possibly the series' most spectacular sequence, during which a magnificently transformed Nightroad dukes it out with a mansion-sized tank amidst a levitating spiral of vampire blood. Once you get past the occasionally stiff character animation—with its generic Gonzo women and lanky, long-jawed men of the type usually reserved for serious-minded shoujo romances—the visuals are gorgeous, especially once the setting switches to the Empire. Gonzo pours untold effort into its settings—majestic historic structures and sci-fi spires bathed in golden rays—and into its gliding, 3D-rendered mecha (giant flying coffins this volume). The budget on this show is on full display such that, even if you are bored, at least you'll always have pretty pictures to look at.
The music is inconsistent, both in usage and quality. One moment the show hits all the right marks, letting important dialogue carry a scene without obvious support and thrilling with soaring gothic compositions during a climactic battle, and then the next it's drowning quiet character-building moments in vapid soundscapes that should have been excised altogether. The gloomy opening and quiet closing (which complements the eye-watering beauty of the end-credits sequence quite well) are still the same.
As fond as I am of shows like Basilisk and Full Metal Panic! TSR, Trinity Blood is my favorite among Funimation's currently running dubs; less for any objective quality than for the way that it consistently outperforms the Japanese version. Funimation's willingness to monkey with the script lessens the original's dependence on brain-numbing clichés; the English cast ratchets the emotional impact up a few notches; and even Nightroad's agony of conscience is more convincing. It is, on a whole, simply better than the Japanese. It has its weak links (Brother Petros would probably be this volume's) but it makes up for them with strengths such as the wise decision to cast the talented Colleen Clinkenbeard in the pivotal role of Esther. Even hardcore sub devotees, if dissatisfied with the show, should test-drive the English to see if it can jump-start their interest.
Other than trailers and textless songs, this volume, once again features only one extra, some interesting yet ultimately pointless historical notes
Maybe it's the many problems with Nightroad's character. Maybe it's the spotty, inconsistent writing. It may even be the shoddy use of music. Or perhaps it's simply the fact that no one ever seems to shut the hell up. Regardless, Trinity Blood—despite a now continuous plot and a threefold increase in blood-squirting action—remains talky, slow and a lot sillier than its grave tone indicates. Given the premise (and skill of the writers) it really should have shot for pulpy thrills instead of stately political intrigue.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C+
Animation : B
Art : A-
Music : C+
+ Moves from stand-alone tales to a continuous story; more action; superior dub.
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