Sunday, April 4, 2010

Blu-ray Review: Trinity Blood the Complete Series

Vampires and anime go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Don't believe me? Look how popular Blood: The Last Vampire and Hellsing are. Beyond that there are other shows like Moon Phase, Rosario + Vampire, Karin, Vampire Princess Miyu, and Vampire Knight. See what I mean? Oh, and there's also a little show called Trinity Blood.

The show has been around in America for a while now, and chances are very good that you have at one point or another looked at either the individual volumes, or collection on DVD. Recently FUNimation took the next logical step for the franchise and retooled it for a Blu-ray release. All 24 episodes are presented here on three Blu-ray discs with an accompanying 22-page art booklet to boot.

Trinity Blood's main plotline all began several years prior to the show's current timeline. As the story goes humanity made it to the stars and even got as far as Mars, where they discovered two types of nanomachines which they naturally injected themselves with. This changed our fate forever and created two types of beings: the Methuselah and Crusniks.

The Methuselah were basically augmented humans who took on several vampiric traits. The Crusniks turned out to be a vampire to the vampires. While the Methuselah treated themselves to humans, the Crusniks liked the taste of Methuselah ("Tastes great! Less filling!"). With these two new types of people back on Earth all hell broke lose and a war erupted that nearly destroyed the world.

In this setting the Vatican stands as the last safe haven for humanity, but with diplomacy there's some wheeling and dealing going on in the background. There's a group known as the Rosen Kreux that is working on their own secret agenda (they're basically the bad guys), and beyond them there's yet another faction known as AX (basically the good guys). No matter how you slice it, that's a lot to take in and to say Trinity Blood is a complex show would be an understatement.

The lead character here is arguably a guy named Father Abel Nightroad, who works for the AX. Abel is one of the legendary Crusniks and was born nearly a thousand years ago and fights for the Vatican. The show follows most of his exploits as he tries to stop the Rosen Kreux. It's worth noting that Abel isn't exactly your typical hero since he suffers from Vash-complex (yes, of Trigun fame). What I mean by that is Abel is obnoxiously goofy at times in order to hide his fearsome power. I hated it in Trigun, and I'm not too keen on it here. Thankfully the rest of the cast built around him is solid and the concept is interesting, so it washes out in the end.

It should be said that Trinity Blood is a rather unbalanced affair. The first half is largely episodic and dry while the latter episodes really kick it up a notch. Because of this the pacing feels disjointed somewhat, and some of the details in the plot come to fruition a little too late in the game. Despite that the show is quite entertaining and there's some cool action, especially for those in the audience who enjoyed Hellsing.

The show looks fantastic on Blu-ray as well with a full 1080p output, AVC encoding, and an anamorphic widescreen transfer. The quality of the show was incredible to begin with thanks to the production by Gonzo, but in high definition it's even more gorgeous. Lines seem sharper, colors are more vibrant, and all throughout the compression rate is better with less noise. It's not a perfect picture, mind you, but it's definitely better than the transfer offered by the DVD. The same can be said for the audio as well with the Dolby Digital TrueHD English 5.1 track being the winner as far as presence on the soundstage is concerned. The Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 track offered a much better dubbing cast, however.

For bonus features this collection is a little light. Clean animations, trailers, and some historical facts about the show are all you're going to find here. The booklet, while cool, unfortunately doesn’t hold a candle to the six booklets that were released with the DVDs when they came out.

Trinity Blood may be a somewhat unbalanced effort, but the show is quite entertaining at times. I enjoyed most of the characters, the setting, and the action, but felt the episodic pacing, goofy Abel, and certain points in the plot dragged the show down a smidge. It's strongly recommended though, and if you haven't seen it then by all means, consider this Blu-ray presentation the way to go. I wouldn't exactly call the video and audio light-years beyond what the DVD offered, but it's a step up in that department even if you forgo some of the material from the original booklets.

Maki Rating:

Review Material provided by FUNimation. Trinity Blood is rated TV-MA.

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