This week, a bunch of questions about Blu-rays! How's that Macross Plus blu-ray box from Japan? How's that crowdsourcing thing going? And why are the episodes divided up so strangely?
Reviewby Melissa Harper, Dec 30th 2006
DVD 2 Collector's Edition
The second volume of Trinity Blood finally sees the characters in the Vatican, and that gives the opportunity for introducing many new AX members. In fact, this volume feels almost like a set of mini-stories to highlight the new characters, leaving much of what went on in the first volume in the background.
Episode five almost feels like an introductory episode, from all of the meet and greet going on. A quick tour of Rome shows off some of the budget for the series, then Sister Esther and the viewer are plunged into a hectic, rather confusing onslaught of new characters. First up, we have the quiet, resolute leader of the vampire hunting organization known as AX, Lady Caterina. The character and design here look a little too familiar, what with said leader being a tall, blonde, noble lady with great political skill and vision enhancing accessories, in this case a monocle. But Caterina isn't the first recognizable character in this series, nor will she be the last. There is the patently insane Professor William Walter Wordsworth, the “gadget guy” for this particular cool top-secret organization, Sister Noelle Boer, a ridiculously busty nun with the ability to see feelings, and Sister Kate, who is, for some reason, transparent. A Father Hugue is mentioned as being missing, but they aren't really that concerned about it.
After episode five, the episodes break down into stand-alone stories, which gives the series at this point a bit of a disjointed feel. Episode six chronicles an adventure of the Father Hugue who was missing in episode five, with no explanation as to when he got back or where he was. Episode seven is an adventure eerily based on Peter Pan; a mad scientist named Barrie has been experimenting on children (with names like Peter and Wendy), turning them into vampire fairies. Another new character is introduced here; Leon Garsia de Asturias, a man who trades AX jobs for reductions in his prison sentence. Along with Abel, he investigates the eerie island where the children have been waging war on “grown-ups.” Episode eight has a light-hearted holiday between Noelle and Abel, ending in a climactic fight between Abel and a member of the Rosenkreuz, in which Abel must again transform.All these individual stories are great for character exposition, but it really makes the story languish. Each episode contains hints as to the larger story, but not enough to leave the viewer with much more than a sense of confusion. They just don't flow together.
The look of this series isn't improving much; backgrounds are lush, really lovely to look at; for example, there is a scene where the characters are standing against the night sky. The clouds move slowly past the stars in a sea of blue light in a nearly perfect representation. Unfortunately, that only makes the 2-D characters standing in the foreground look even more flat in comparison. It's not that the characters look that bad, they just don't match the visual style of the backgrounds and the effects.
Whichever language track you choose to listen to, you will be treated to a fairly good performance. The good thing about the English dub is that it doesn't fuss about staying strictly with the Japanese. Several changes are made without affecting the story, that help the dialogue sound more natural. Most of the changes have to do with Japanese-ness; for instance, one kid takes to calling Leon “ojiisan,” a fairly respectable term for an older person. The subtitles give the meaning of “old man,” but that just sounds ridiculous in English, not to mention doesn't carry the respect of the original term. The choice was made to have Leon take offense at being called “sir” instead. It manages to keep the kid sounding respectful, and Leon being grumpy, as intended.
The soundtrack for the series is interesting, at least. In times of peace and relaxation, it maintains a classical sound, be it organ music or bagpipes, that would probably be very nice to listen to on its own, but does nothing to add to the atmosphere of the scene. Once the action starts, the mood on the music changes to an almost techno sound. The end of episode eight contains an eerie organ piece that is part of the story as well as the soundtrack that is powerful and effectively conveys the emotion of the climactic battle. It isn't worth importing the soundtrack for, but it adds some variety to an otherwise flat soundtrack.
The packaging on the Collector's Edition is very nice. A slick, embossed slipcover contains an artwork-covered tri-fold case. Slipped inside are a set of four tarot cards with lovely character art on one side and the Trinity Blood logo on the other, and a bonus “AX File” booklet. This thick little extra contains interviews with the principal Japanese cast, a section of very informative character guides, and a pictorial tour of all the locales represented on this disk.
The pacing of this series is still painfully slow throughout volume two. Disconnected storylines do nothing to bring the individual plot lines together. More characters are introduced, but they are so reminiscent of other, better shows, that it makes it difficult to care about them at all. There is no feeling that AX is a team of people that work well together, thanks again to the disconnection of the episodes, and it would be nice to see everyone working toward a common goal. As it stands, there are better vampire anime out there to watch, and Trinity Blood knows it.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C
Animation : B-
Art : B+
Music : B
+ Slick, well animated show.
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