Japanese Title: Trinity Blood
Similar: Hellsing Ultimate
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 24 episodes
- Nations of vampires, the Vatican, and future tech styled in a Renaissance aesthetic makes for an interesting world. Android priests and hologram nuns, what more could you want.
- Vampire priest Abel and several of his allies are good characters.
- Goes off on several tangents early in the series for no value.
- A sudden and weak conclusion.
- Another tangent halfway through with the most annoying brat.
900 years after Armageddon, the Vatican is at war with vampires. However, among their elite battle priests is Abel Nightroad, a vampire who feeds on the blood of other vampires. As a priest, he is a kind, genteel sort of fellow, but in his vampiric form wielding a scythe, a thirst for blood and slaughter takes over, at odds with his policy of no killing. While this split personality makes for an interesting character setup, the writers didn’t push it as far as they could have. Abel isn’t tortured enough. We don’t see much of an internal conflict about who he wants to be against what he is. It would have been good to see him address the hypocrisy regarding his pacifism when you consider how much he kills.
After the first two episodes, Trinity Blood derails to introduce the supporting cast over several episodes through unnecessarily boring story arcs. Take priestess in training Esther. Rather than establishing her bloody past at the hands of vampires and personality through action, she sits down to have a chat. Everything stops so that a character may say ‘hello.’ Even a core antagonist, Abel’s brother, Cain, is introduced without agency and doesn’t do anything until late in the story. The exception to this is Tres, the android priest, whose cold manner is a joy to watch. “Requesting damage report” instead of “Are you hurt?” Classic. His English voice actor, Christopher Sabat, does a great job conveying the personality of a machine – Japanese just sounds bored.
Despite the Vatican-versus-vampires setup, the conflict comes in equal parts from humans as it does from vampires. Within the Vatican itself, high-ranking officials scheme for power, including Cardinal Francesco, the pope’s illegitimate brother, who acts in violence wherever vampires are concerned. This being anime, the pope is a kid – of course. His sister, Cardinal Caterina, runs Abel’s elite unit in eradicating rogue vampires, yet she also leads the effort in negotiating a peace between the Vatican and the kingdom of civilized vampires – vampires are the best engineers and have the most advanced technology. Having this dynamic of politics and treachery brings a much needed layer to the plot. It helps build the world into something real. Furthermore, I like that the Vatican isn’t a hive mind. It would have been a dull affair indeed to have everyone in agreement.
The world of Trinity Blood is a dark place despite the beautiful architecture, the sun rarely given a chance to shine, warm lights and candles as patches of safety in the darkness. Nothing illustrates this better than a latter arc with Albion, a human nation that has suspiciously advanced technology. The Albion plot is the culmination of everything until that point, even bringing relevance to events that seemed out of place earlier – the band of child vampires like Peter Pan’s Lost Boys, for instance. Every card is played in the political machine and each character has the chance to affect the plot. This is easily the strongest of Trinity Blood’s arcs. Shame the ultimate end is sudden and doesn’t make much sense; the open thread is the least of its worries.
Trinity Blood is a tough anime for me to review. I love the world design and many of the characters within it, and the politics are great too, but what’s wrong in this anime is significant. It’s not as though you can skip the tangential episodes, as they give titbits of information (not that other episodes couldn’t have conveyed the same), forcing you to sit through them. But then, the great episodes come before you and it’s suddenly engaging…only to slide back down into doldrums. Why? Why couldn’t they have planned the narrative structure beforehand?
Art – High
Love the world design of combining Renaissance Italy with future engineering. Airships with a Vatican interior are a cool idea. Doesn’t look dated, but the backgrounds have this fuzzy quality to them at times, which isn’t the same as distance blur, just low resolution.
Sound – Medium
Good voice work, but the English dialogue is better written than the Japanese original. Troy Baker shows his range as Abel in English, transitioning masterfully between the amicable priest and angry vampire. The opening theme reminds me of ballads in Bollywood films from the male lead to his lady of affection. The ending theme, however, could do with a lot less Engrish. Also, where is my choir?
Story – Medium
An unfocused narrative brings down a fantastic setup of the future Vatican fighting vampires while having vampires of their own as allies. Several characters are interesting, but their development, like the plot, can be a little scattered.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: Worth a try for what it does right. Trinity Blood is great in parts and downright coma inducing in others. Another few edit runs in pre-production wouldn’t have gone amiss. Still, the world design and characters made this anime an easy watch.
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