Home > Blood-C, Episode Reviews > Blood-C Episode 4 – Lurking Under the Surface

Blood-C Episode 4 – Lurking Under the Surface

Okay, fine, Blood-C, I owe you an apology. After three episodes of dithering around, you’ve finally decided to bring something resembling a plot into the usual routine of Saya slaying monsters at night and being absurdly cute during the day. Well, really it was your own fault for taking this long to set the scene before getting to the good stuff, but I’m enjoying you now, so I’ll grant you some slack.

In short, the subtle hints dropped in episode three all start coming to a head in this one. The last monster’s cryptic last words open up into a full fledged conversation with this week’s abomination; the young homeroom teacher’s knowledge of and interest in Saya becomes more pronounced and sinister; the cafe owner also shows a more open interest in Saya that even she can’t fully ignore; and even the cute animal Saya’s been seeing proves to have some greater plot significance. All the plot progression I’ve been wanting has been there, just lurking out of sight.

One previously unknown fact about the puppy Saya keeps seeing: No one else can see it

What’s most significant about this is that the day vs. night dichotomy I spoke of last time seems to be breaking down. Saya is actually reflecting on previous battles during the day, and witnessing the death of a fellow villager, which she seemed rather blase about when it actually happened, has seemed to have left some lingering guilt on her mind. This time she attempts to save the three fisherman targeted by the monsters, and her failure to save any of them brings her to a point of near collapse.

She’s also increasingly curious about the nature of the “covenant” that her opponents are talking about. The monsters themselves are only talking in vague terms, and Saya’s father dismisses her concerns with what, to the audience, is a fairly obvious lie. What’s most interesting is that this time, the creatures actually seem reluctant to attack Saya, focusing on the normal human prey and only turning against her in earnest when she gives them no other choice.

This time the monsters literally ignore Saya while in pursuit of other targets. They have a chance to kill her early on, too, and don't take it

The obvious indication, particularly given the previous entries in the franchise, is that Saya is some form of the monsters she is fighting, which is why she has the strength to fight them in the first place. This is also hinted at by her eyes changing color at crucial moments in battles, usually just in time to turn the tide and pull out a victory.

On that note, I would like to register a complaint about having Saya consistently be on the losing side of a fight only to activate some superpower and win at the end. It’s a pretty cheap way of drawing up dramatic tension when the end result is basically inevitable and mirrors some of the “I have better fighting spirit than you” crap that pervades much of the medium. I suppose it makes sense that Saya wouldn’t pull out the ability immediately as she probably doesn’t even know she has it, but the plot armor around Saya seemed pretty thick this time.

After turning on the red eyes Saya takes out all three opponents, despite serious injury, in under forty seconds, and makes it look effortless

I should remind myself that I’m not here to complain, though. This is really a good episode, and it’s a good episode not for how the battles play out, but for how their aftereffects are more clearly seen during the day. This episode begins to hammer home that all the adults in Saya’s life are in on her secret, and each has a seemingly different agenda in play.

Saya’s father Tadayoshi seems the most straightforward: Keep Saya fighting and make sure she doesn’t have any doubts or regrets about her actions. Fumito, the proprietor of her favorite cafe, seems aligned with Tadayoshi, but perhaps with his own agenda in mind. He seems just as interested in Saya’s inner life as he is with her daily (and nightly) actions, almost as if seeing how Saya responds to her environment is as important as what she fights.

Given Saya seems to have a momentary flashback when having one of Fumito's treats, I'm beginning to suspect he might be drugging her with something—possibly with her father's consent

Taking the cake, however, is Saya’s homeroom teacher Kanako Tsutsutori. She expressed a less than wholesome interest in her student last episode, and here, the episode ends by her quoting one of Saya’s adlibbed song about her lovely day. She delivers it in a way that the rest of the class, doesn’t realize what she’s doing, but since Saya’s been careful not to be overheard, it implies that she’s been keeping careful watch over her student, without leaving any evidence of it.

It’s a remarkably creepy moment, particularly given the words themselves are so cheery as to mock the mental and physical ordeal Saya has been going through over the last few days in particular. It’s almost as if the teacher is mocking Saya’s suffering, and makes me curious as to how she will shape up as one of the likely villains of the show.

The episode does have some of Saya's more klutzy moments toward the start (mostly at Shin'ichirou's expense) but that gets left by the wayside quickly, and even that is used to advance a few key relationships

One of the things that this show needed to do to succeed was to tie together Saya’s daily and nightly life into a cohesive whole—without that, the show would just be disconnected action scenes interspersed with the most boring high school drama possible. The classic way to do this would have been the Buffy approach: having the daily social pressures of school life affect Saya’s monster slaying duties, or having the monster slaying duties interfere with having a normal life.

This series, by contrast, is looking to skip both those options. Rather, it’s slowly beginning to demonstrate that the two were connected all along, with the threads between them waiting to come up for air. They should have come up sooner, but now that they have, we’re looking like we might have a real show on our hands.

Some of the flashbacks seem to directly link back to original Blood film, making this Saya and that Saya the same girl—or at least this Saya made from what was left of the previous one

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  1. -
    August 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Does this mean I have to watch this now? I was kind of busy… guess I’ll just have to find the time.

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