Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond
Episode 10

by Gabriella Ekens,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond (TV 2) ?

At long last, we have a K.K episode. The bratatat mom has been one of Blood Blockade Battlefront's most overlooked characters from the beginning, alongside the weapon specialist duo and Klaus (who still doesn't have his own episode this season dammit). I've been waiting for her dedicated showcase for a long time, and I'm happy to say that it more than lives up to expectations.

I know that it's Libra's job to preserve humanity's existence in the face of constant apocalyptic threats, but they really need to work on their employees' work-life balance. Leo has to work a second job delivering pizzas, Chain is on call during ladies' night, and now K.K has to miss her kid's parent-teacher day for the umpteenth time in a row. Folks should really consider unionizing. (At least their health care package looks good, considering how often they're in and out of the hospital.) But I digress. So Stephen schedules the Big Drug Raid or Whatever at the same time as K.K's son's special day, ruining her plans. K.K tries to get out of it, but Stephen bullies her into staying, which helps contextualize why K.K might hate him so much. This makes her son, Kane, really angry with her, since our girl has apparently been doing this for a long time. While she's doing as much as she can as a mother, her children have come to expect her to be unreliable, which breaks her heart.

So K.K decides to attend parent-teacher day while working remotely at the same time. Sitcom shenanigans result, as she constantly has to run to the bathroom in order to snipe at people on her laptop. As it turns out, there's another parent at the school in the same situation, and the two briefly connect over how hard it can be to be to balance family alongside a demanding job. Around this time, Stephen's crew starts running into trouble when a new enemy shows up. It's a Blood Breed, and it looks like they have the moves to take down Mr. Starphase if K.K doesn't show up to provide cover. Apologizing to her son while insisting that she loves him, she starts to run out of the school, only to notice that a certain new acquaintance of hers happens to lack a reflection…

So yeah, one of the parents is a Blood Breed. In fact, he's the same Blood Breed who Stephen is fighting at that exact moment. Specifically, he's Mr. Foster, the father of Caroline Foster, Kane's good friend (and possibly more), which makes the situation extra complicated for K.K. Not only was Mr. Foster in the same situation as our heroine, they were in the exact same battle, tuning into work remotely so as not to miss another day with their child. What a funny coincidence! Of course, K.K confronts the guy, and they prepare to duke it out on the school roof. As they're about to begin however, their children walk onto the scene, and the Blood Breed is forced to concede. He doesn't want his daughter to witness him acting like a monster, and since he's the one living a double life while K.K's occupation is a little more transparent to her family, he's forced to retreat from the encounter. While it results in a hectic life, K.K's identities as a “loving mother” and “protector of humanity” are ethically in sync, so she can be more open about both. In contrast, “ruthless killer” and “loving father” are contradictory roles, so Mr. Foster is forced into situations where he has to choose one at the expense of the other. Thankfully, he chooses the children, who are allowed to exit the situation with their faith in their parents (not to mention their lives) intact. This also allows Stephen to gain the upper hand in their remote battle, saving his life as well. The day is saved, all thanks to the villain possessing moral values detrimental to their career. Hooray!

This was a wonderful episode overall. The message was lovely, as a resonant and pleasantly gender-neutral take on the difficulties of balancing work and parenting when you work a high-pressure job. K.K's husband in particular is an incredibly supportive and emotionally perceptive guy, and it's great to see relationships like that represented in anime. Together, they remind me of Madoka's parents from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, where the mother is the high stakes breadwinner while the father is the dedicated caretaker. Their relationship is tenderly portrayed over just a handful of scenes, but I feel like I already know a lot about this family. On the Stephen side of things, his stuff was mostly just action-based, although it did deliver a bit of BBB's rarest cryptid: actual lore. So Stephen is a “fang hunter,” which I guess is what Blood Breeds call the folks who try to hunt them down. It's not much, but this does raise a few questions about the true nature of Blood Breeds, if they have communities and can possibly blend into society well enough to raise a child. They're not all Hieronymus Bosch-ian gang lords or red lights hanging out in the depthless void beneath Yggdrasil. They can have people feelings too.

I'd sure like to hear the story behind these things, preferably involving whatever they did to Klaus to turn him into the befanged Christ-like cross-chucker we know and love today. (And if Klaus is some kind of hybrid, are all "fang-hunters" a result of vampire experimentation in some way?) Too bad we're probably not going to get it this season. Blood Blockade Battlefront's world is so overstuffed with personality that I really wish it could go on indefinitely, especially when so many of its central mysteries remain unaddressed. It feels like one of those manga that could go on for sixty volumes without getting tired – although if they made that much anime, the production values would definitely start dropping, which would be a shame. Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond has been a joy to watch even at its lowest points animation-wise, but this episode represents a high note. It's full of great cuts – standouts include the dynamic acrobatics of Stephen's fight scene, as well as the naturalistic and expressive character movement in K.K's family scenes. As another standout episode in this worthy second season to a great show, I'm still crying at the idea that it will ever end.

Grade: A+

Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.

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