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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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12/03/2006 Archived Entry: "Anime review: Trinity Blood: Chapter 1"

Trinity Blood: Chapter 1
Funimation
Trinity Blood Website

Review by Tom Good

In a future post-apocalyptic world, a vampire hijacks an airship and threatens to crash it into the Vatican. So begins Trinity Blood, the story of traveling priest Abel Nightroad, a Vatican agent and a powerful weapon in the church's war against the vampires. Nightroad has an affable, if a bit awkward personality most of the time, but that all changes when he activates his "Cruznik" nanomachines and turns into a type of vampire who feeds on other vampires. This anime's great visuals drew me into the story right away and kept me glued to the screen.

Based on a series of novels by Yoshida Sunao, Trinity Blood is full of historical references. The hijacker in the first episode belongs to a group called the Fleurs du Mal, which means "Flowers of Evil" and is also the name of a book of poems by Baudelaire. Another secret society called the Rosen Kreuz appears later in the story, a reference to Christian Rosenkreuz, the supposed founder of the Rosicrucians. And ancient place names like "Londinium" and "Albion" add to the historical flavor, even though the story takes place in the future.

This DVD is a visual treat that deserves to be seen on a large HDTV. The 16x9 widescreen picture is filled with gorgeous colors and sumptuous, detailed backgrounds. The animation shows a nice variety of pacing. Contemplative scenes combine slow panning effects with sparse dialogue. But when the action scenes arrive they bring high energy fights and gunplay, with a subtle hand-held camera shake effect that cleverly adds to the feeling of danger.

The story line prompted my girlfriend to wonder why Catholic priests and nuns occur as often as they do in anime, considering that Japan is not a predominantly Christian country. Historically, when Japan was isolated from the rest of the world, some of the few foreigners who did enter the country were Catholic missionaries. This may make them the archetypal "exotic foreigner" in the Japanese imagination.

Also, much like ninja and samurai in American comics, Catholic priests not only represent an exotic foreign tradition, but are also associated with a rich language of visual imagery, including characteristic clothing, objects, art, and even architecture. This makes them appealing as artistic subjects for the range of aesthetic possibilities that they provide. Setting some scenes of Trinity Blood at the Vatican allows for beautiful background art that would not exist if the characters gathered in an office building.

The ending theme, "Broken Wings" by Tomoko Tane, showed off the singer's voice but made me wish for a version with better English pronunciation. Still, that didn't prevent the song from getting stuck in my head for days. I really liked the art, music, and English voices in this DVD. It seems to combine aspects of some of my favorite anime. The Italian setting and patient pace reminded me of Gunslinger Girl, and the characters reminded me of Full Metal Alchemist. (Many of the English voice actors on Trinity Blood also worked on episodes of FMA.) On the whole, this is a DVD I highly recommend.

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