Home > Blood-C, Episode Reviews > Blood-C Episode 12 – Living Down to Its Name

Blood-C Episode 12 – Living Down to Its Name

Well, my hopes for a full accounting were left unfulfilled. Instead, the show is delaying its climax until the release of a feature film, in the summer of next year. It’s a trick Production I.G. has already done with Eden of the East, and I can’t say I liked it much then either. On the other hand, it’s not too different than delaying a final resolution until a future season, which is hardly uncommon nowadays.

So, some outstanding questions do remain. Who is Fumito, and where does his influence and power come from? What motivated him to take on this project, and what will he consider to be its proper end? What will he claim as his own if he “wins”?

And make no mistake, despite the absolute slaughter that carried on throughout this episode, the experiment is not yet over. Fumito still has plans in motion. And instilling in Saya a dreadful desire for vengeance is only a part of that.

Despite everything Kanako did to her, Saya still goes to extreme lengths to save her "teacher's" life. Kanako's own actions ensure that attempt is wasted, but it's another way that the show tries to emphasize the humanity of Saya

Despite the questions left unanswered, some are covered appropriately. Saya is indeed like the monsters she has been slaying, but unlike them she cannot kill humans—not just because she doesn’t want to (and she normally doesn’t), but because she literally can’t. Whomever she made a promise to protect (a promise Fumito then incorporated into his charade), it seems to be binding.

Instead, Saya hunts, and drinks the blood of, her own kind. Her own blood is potent enough that, under the right conditions, it can control the monsters, which is exactly how Fumito has been manipulating them to attack at the right times and against the right people. Fumito also claims to have some control over Saya, promising to remove her block against killing humans if she “wins.” Saya, however, seems perfectly willing and able to kill Fumito, right now.

We've known that Fumito drained a lot of blood from Saya after capturing her. I thought it was just to weaken her, but now we realize why he was storing it

Even though Saya’s memory has been restored, Fumito doesn’t seem to indicate a winner or a loser. He just closes up shop, having the remaining “extras” slaughtered by the hundreds (a task the monsters take to in increasingly “creative” and graphically violent ways) as his armored convoy exits the scene. Saya attempts to pursue him only to be maimed and disabled. It takes days for her to recover, but then she heads into the city seeking vengeance once more.

Aside from establishing himself as one of the most heinously callous characters in the history of anime, one whose death the audience will cheer when it comes in the feature film, Fumito remains inscrutable. So, to a certain extent, does Saya, who seemed to know enough of Fumito’s plans in advance to contact Watanuki to “ensure” that she would remain herself throughout the experiment. But how would she know what Fumito had planned before he even captured her?

Fumito doesn't just send horrors into town to kill the remaining cast members, but has his guard mow down anyone whom it looks might evade them

It’s a giant plot hole, and Watanuki’s appearance seems all the more superfluous as a result. If the theme is that Saya remains herself even though her memories change, having Watanuki interfere on her behalf only subverts that principle. If it were true, she wouldn’t need the help. And we never found out what or how Fumito was planning to remake Saya into in the first place, so we don’t know how vulnerable Saya even would have been.

The connections to the original film are less direct, but more intriguing. The “shrovetide” Kanako mentioned in last episode hints at a greater government conspiracy, one accepting the existence of the old ones and their predatory habits, but establishing a limit on the number of humans they can eat in a season. (Hence, the monsters talking about the violation of the “covenant” were likely complaining that they were being prevented from their hunt quota.) How Saya’s partnership with the U.S. in the original film plays into this, I have no idea. But right now, I’m not convinced Production I.G. or Clamp knows either. And that’s not a comforting thought.

There's some obvious budget cutting in play when the townsfolk get slaughtered and in parts of Saya's battle with the monstrous Tadayoshi. The bulk of the episode, including most of the Tadayoshi fight, is sufficiently impressive on a visual level that I'm willing to forgive that aspect of the production

Series Review: What to make of Blood-C? Can we make an honest assessment, when so much has been left for the film to resolve? I think we can, if only by comparing it to other shows which put off a final conclusion for a future act. There, I ask three separate questions: How satisfying is the conclusion to this arc? How invested am I in the characters and/or plot to want to carry on with the next installment? How likely is it that I’ll eventually get the closure I need? The answers to those questions are, in order: not particularly, only in that I want Fumito to die, and who knows.

The show is ultimately disappointing on several levels: It doesn’t stand on its own, the xxxholic crossover element is just as pointless and counterproductive as I expected it would be, and it is far too indulgent in graphic violence which it just has to censor for the TV broadcast anyway. While the mystery behind the town is more or less explained, the underlying pieces—Fumito’s motivation, resources, and utter amorality—remain unexplained. He, like Saya, is understandable if you accept him as a given. But ultimately,we have no reason to accept the existence of either of them as simply a given.

Fumito blows a hole in Saya's face, but clearly doesn't expect her to die from the wound. What does he still have planned that justifies leaving a superpowered combat goddess with an axe to grind alive to pursue him?

That is perhaps is the greatest failing of this entire production. The original Blood film was a lavishly produced action flick whose plot was as light as air. Blood-C, I hoped, would provide some weight to it, and I suppose it did. But it follows in the film’s footsteps both in having excellent action and in keeping the basic mysteries of the setting concealed. The only answers we receive were for questions that didn’t exist until this show bothered to introduce them.

Despite my frustration, I won’t just ignore the film when it comes out. Whatever else it will be, it will be gorgeously animated, and if the fight choreography for the show has been uniformly excellent, I can only imagine what they’ll do with a film budget. I’m also hoping, paradoxically, that the film will have just enough freedom to show gore that it will do so within the confines of reason. If you know the violence will be censored regardless of what you do, there’s no reason to hold back from making the final DVD product as disgustingly over the top as possible. Perhaps the film will find a happy medium. (If it just has the same violence as the series, but uncensored, I’m going to stop watching very quickly.)

Itsuki somewhat unnecessarily takes a few dozen bullets for Saya, switching sides only in time to die. While I'm happy my instincts about him were correct, it still seems like a rather pointless death. Which, I suppose, is what most of the deaths here have been

I’m probably overly optimistic in hoping for that degree of restraint, just as I might be overly optimistic in hoping that the film will pull all the elements of the show, the original film, and the crossover elements into a coherent whole. Do I hope for that? Yes. Do I expect it? Not with any degree of confidence. In the end, Blood-C seems more interested in providing scenes of graphic murder, almost to the point of reaching torture porn, rather than giving the audience any real answers. I’m not sure why the film would feel obliged to give us anything different—however much it might need to.

  1. FFWF
    October 2, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Oh, I didn’t know it was getting a film. I assumed that they had a sequel series in the works – or maybe not even that. I would’ve accepted the ending as a final ending in a “the story goes on” sort of way, given that a lot of the tropes, while mysterious in their precise application, are still as old as the hills. Saya is a legendary warrior; Fumito an evil chessmaster. They clash, inevitably. But just as the show needed an interesting story in order for us to be bothered about the clichés, so too will the film need to have a plot that has depth beyond Saya’s quest for vengeance. The question is whether that plot will be integral enough to the show for it to deserve existing. Doesn’t look like it, so far, but I’m prepared for my mind to be changed. I don’t actually know anything about the other works in the Blood franchise, so if it bastardises them then that’s not really a problem for me.

    A few further notes: The violence was definitely very torture porn in this final episode, yes; I think the kebab parodies and the fact that the monsters conveniently have bags in their arms and hands that can turn into blenders betrays that what we were being shown was not intended to be plausible but more to shock and disgust. Mission accomplished, I guess, but I don’t have any respect for that approach. You can say pretty much the same thing for the twins’ deaths, at that. Although it left me confused as to what their censorship rationale was; some things get blurred out, others get the magical white beam of DVD advertising. Maybe the difference is in the level of detail portrayed.

    Also, Class Rep’s ultimate role turned out to be what I thought Shin’ichirou’s was (the role that became reality). Had to be one of them, though. Shame that most of the main cast were too bland even in their false roles for me to remember their names. I wonder if, when we see Other Girl in the movie, she’ll be the Governor of Tokyo? But still under Fumito’s thumb, of course. Nice touch, having her not really be high-school age; I thought she looked a bit too old.

    But lastly, I was disappointed by Saya’s reawakening as her true self, for the reason that it wasn’t really shown. There was no real moment of realisation or awakening; one moment she’s slumped on the ground, the next she’s being a badass again, which is hardly any different to how she was the rest of the time. I know she made a wish to remain herself, but I’m not really convinced that that actually came across at all. I guess what I’m asking for is a little more subtlety in the depiction of her psychology. Not sure I can ask for subtlety from the writers of the blenderhands, though.

    Oh yeah, and why was it called Blood-C? I don’t really expect an answer to that question, though, because we know what anime titles are like.

    • threeheadedmonkeys
      October 2, 2011 at 10:56 am

      Oh, the C stands for Clamp. And there is absolutely no connection between this series and Blood+, which also took the movie for a given but then spun out a completely new story from that.

      • FFWF
        October 6, 2011 at 11:47 am

        In other news, is there any chance of a Dantalian series retrospective? I really felt let down by it as it went on, but I do think it would be interesting to examine it and think about what went wrong (i.e. useless protagonists, zero plot progression, sparse explanation of the setting).

  2. threeheadedmonkeys
    October 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    FFWF :

    In other news, is there any chance of a Dantalian series retrospective?

    I’m probably add to have a “most wasted potential” category to the awards post this season, and Dantalian (and Memo-chou) will certainly get cited.

  1. October 2, 2011 at 11:12 pm

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