Narrative Foundation through Leonardo’s Perspective
Blood Blockade Battlefront (or Kekkai Sensen), a 12-episode action anime series, reveals an intriguing narrative centered around its protagonist, Leonardo Watch. The story unfolds with Leonardo’s journey to the mysterious Hellsalem’s Lot, driven by his quest to find Libra, an underground organization composed of superhumans dedicated to maintaining balance in this supernatural realm. The series establishes its narrative foundation through introspective letters from Leonardo to his sister, immersing the audience in the protagonist’s perspective. It captivates viewers from the outset with stunning visual montages that serve as an introduction to the climactic events that unfold later. The artistic and thematic introduction sets the stage for the complex storyline, showcasing the series’ commitment to delivering an engaging narrative and visual excellence.
The main character, Leo, deviates from conventional character archetypes in the genre, offering a refreshing and nuanced portrayal. Unlike protagonists blessed with deadly combat skills, Leo’s strength lies in empathy and his defense of the oppressed. Through Leo, the narrative challenges traditional expectations, demonstrating that heroism can manifest in various forms beyond physical prowess. Blood Blockade Battlefront distinguishes itself by avoiding clichéd character development tropes. Instead of forcing Leo to follow the traditional hero’s journey to become stronger through physical power, the narrative takes a more organic approach. This allows Leo to evolve into a hero in his own way, allowing his inherent qualities and beliefs to shine.
Blood Blockade Battlefront is revealed as a narrative directed very well, starting with an episodic structure that carefully creates an expansive world within Hellsalem’s Lot. Each episode functions as a canvas, skillfully developing the intricate tapestry of the series and introducing various members of Libra. This deliberate storytelling approach reflects the meticulous world-building found in renowned cinematic works like The Avengers, where each character contributes to the overall narrative. The storytelling prowess of this series is evident in its ability to seamlessly weave standalone adventures while maintaining a cohesive and engaging storyline. The characters, much like a well-orchestrated ensemble, take turns in the spotlight. Whether offering wise advice to the hero or actively participating in high-risk operations against significant threats, each member of Libra makes a meaningful contribution to the overall storyline. The narrative skill elevates Blood Blockade Battlefront beyond mere episodic adventures, transforming it into a captivating tapestry of interconnected stories.
Seamless Integration of Original Elements
One standout element of this series is the directorial genius of Rie Matsumoto, whose vision brings a unique and original dimension to the narrative. In particular, characters like Mary and William Macbeth, along with the entire overarching plot, are exclusive creations specifically made for the anime. Matsumoto’s directorial intelligence is evident in seamlessly integrating these original elements into the existing framework, perfecting the series with a fresh perspective and narrative depth. Under Matsumoto’s guidance, the series successfully navigates the balance between episodic storytelling and a comprehensive narrative, creating an engaging and cohesive viewing experience. The inclusion of original characters and storylines further underscores the director’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of creativity in the anime medium.
The second-to-last episode of Blood Blockade Battlefront functions as an intricately woven tapestry, dedicating its narrative focus to unveiling the mysterious backgrounds of key characters, Mary and William. This deliberate storytelling choice serves as a fitting prelude to the grand finale and the climactic revelations in the subsequent episode. With its skillful narrative construction, the series ensures that the audience is provided with a comprehensive understanding of these characters, enriching the viewers’ emotional investment in the impending resolution. There are nuanced layers that demand sharp attention from the audience. The intricacies of the narrative, designed to enhance the depth of the story, might escape those who do not carefully pay attention to the unfolding events. There are instances during the tense finale where the complexity of certain character plans and the fantastical world mechanisms in Hellsalem’s Lot may prove challenging to fully comprehend. While contributing to the narrative’s depth, this complex network of details sometimes leaves the audience grappling with moments of uncertainty.
This challenge is exacerbated by the original airing of the series, as the unexpected extension of the final episode caused a delay. Instead of concluding at the end of the spring season in 2015 as anticipated, the last episode aired three months later, marking the peak of the summer of 2015. This unforeseen delay adds an element of temporal dissonance, which could potentially impact the audience’s ability to connect the narrative thread from the second-to-last episode to the long-awaited conclusion. Blood Blockade Battlefront demonstrates bold and commendable choices in crafting a conclusive anime finale. The series takes calculated risks by placing its narrative stakes on a complex and conclusive conclusion, albeit requiring a level of mental sharpness from its audience. Despite momentarily causing confusion, the finale ultimately succeeds in delivering a satisfying resolution that ties together the diverse journeys of the characters.
Cityscape and Architectural Grandeur
The richly textured and atmospheric world of Blood Blockade Battlefront is revealed remarkably to unveil Hellsalem’s Lot, a metropolitan city skillfully blending the gritty realism of New York City with the charm of a distinct and captivating science fiction fantasy. The cityscape, depicted with unique artistic skill, immerses its audience in a misty yet vibrant environment, exuding unparalleled vitality. The amalgamation of these elements provides a cinematic quality to Hellsalem’s Lot, encapsulating the essence of urban life in harmony with the pulsating energy of New York City. The towering gothic architecture of the skyscrapers in Hellsalem’s Lot adds a layer of mystique and grandeur to the city’s landscape. Its majestic structures, shrouded in an otherworldly atmosphere, contribute to creating an ambiance that transcends mere urban realism. When the fog blankets the gray streets, charming color interactions emerge, infusing spirit into a previously silent palette. The alignment of gothic aesthetics and vibrant colors not only captivates the visual senses but also serves as evidence of this series’ commitment to creating a visually stunning and immersive fictional city.
Hellsalem’s Lot earns its place among favorite fictional locations, finding resonance alongside the enchanting towns and villages in Studio Ghibli films. The city becomes a character in itself, teeming with life and character, inviting viewers to explore hidden corners and uncover its mysteries. Similar to the evocative settings of Ghibli films, Hellsalem’s Lot transcends its fictional boundaries, becoming a place ingrained in the imagination, prompting contemplation and admiration. The artistic mastery evident in Toshihiro Kawamoto’s character design for this production reflects the outstanding quality showcased in his previous works, such as Cowboy Bebop and Noragami. Carefully choreographed battle sequences, coupled with the destruction of captivating architectural elements, demonstrate a level of creative excellence consistently present throughout Bones’ productions. The visual allure of this series is undeniably captivating, aligning with the renowned works of other studios.
In addition to its visual excellence, the auditory dimension of its performance is equally captivating for the audience. Taisei Iwasaki, in his debut anime soundtrack, serves as a composer, delivering a musical experience rivaling the brilliance of Yoko Kanno, renowned for her contributions to Cowboy Bebop. Iwasaki’s musical style seamlessly blends various genres, including beautiful orchestral compositions, pop, rock, jazz, and even unconventional yet unforgettable pieces designed for comedic moments. The soundtrack, a testament to Iwasaki’s versatility and ingenuity, enriches the overall viewing experience, making it an integral component of the series’ success. In short, Blood Blockade Battlefront stands as a paramount example in the action anime genre, earning accolades as one of the most outstanding productions in recent years. Unfortunately, its merits remain obscured due to a lack of widespread recognition. Nevertheless, with each consecutive viewing, my profound appreciation for this anime deepens, affirming its timeless allure and strengthening its status as an enduring masterpiece in the genre.
- Lundeen, M. M. (2017). A Review of Blood Blockade Battlefront. Sakura Sunrise.
- Lundeen, M. M. (2023). Kekkai Sensen: Is Being Faithful To The Manga Overrated?. Game Rant.