“This city’s name is Hellsalem’s Lot. Just three years ago, New York City sat on this spot. Today, it is the place where our world intersects with The Beyond.”
A seemingly random dimensional rift nearly destroyed, then rebuilt what is now called Hellsalem’s Lot. All manner of bizarre (but mostly friendly) beings from the other side have immigrated to America’s greatest melting pot. The story follows Leonardo Watch, an impoverished young man who tries to make it in the mutated Big Apple. Leonardo also trying to support his blinded, and wheelchair bound sister who lives outside the city. Having lost her sight when a strange eldritch entity forcibly granted Leo ‘The Eyes Of The Gods’ when first visiting the city, but allowing him extraordinary vision based abilities. By twist of fate, he ends up accidentally recruited by LIBRA. An organization of super powered specialists who seek to preserve some semblance of peace in the city. But with all kinds of other-worldy creatures ready to run amok, and a vast literal/figurative criminal underworld to contend with, they have their work cut out for them.
The latest series by Yasuhiro Nightow, the creator of the manga/anime Trigun. Blood Blockade Battlefront (or Kekkai Sensen) is similarly influenced by western works, though more of a blend of horror and noir mediums. The show is just as hyper-kinetic in style and action. Mis-En-Scene being a major keyword, as we are dropped headfirst into the conflict and plot, with no sign of hitting the brakes. Which may be seen as a negative trait by some first time viewers, getting rushed faster than they can absorb the story.
The manga takes a more non-serialized approach, almost every chapter seeming to be a stand-alone. The anime produced by Studio Bones, however has its own original overarching storyline with exclusive characters. The series also featuring some amazingly animated fight sequences through the H.L. metropolitan areas. Usually accompanied by the series’ energetic, jazz/funk fueled score which only accentuates the style of these sequences.
Though there is plenty of emphasis on action, the series definitely has a major root in western horror. There are multiple references to the works of Stephen King, like New York City being renamed ‘Hellsalem’s Lot’ similar to Jerusalem’s Lot. Which also makes sense due to a major recurring threat to the peace being The Blood Breed, otherwise known as Vampires. The dimensional hole releasing a seemingly endless fog like the dimensional breach of The Mist. There’s also been a few scenes through the series that homage such films as diverse as Scanners to Twins!
Perhaps the greatest strength of the series is its varied, and often eccentric cast of characters. Some of the other members of LIBRA include its leader, Klaus V. Reinherz. A giant, tusked, mountain of a man, whose physique hides his caring and gentlemanly nature. Zapp Renfro, the foul mouthed, foul tempered, and just plain foul enforcer. Their recon specialist, Chain Sumeragi, who’s described as an ‘invisible werewolf’ capable of phasing in and out of dimensions. And that’s only the tip of the ensemble defending the city. Interestingly, our heroes are a bit of a ‘monster squad’ in their own right. Several characters being practitioners of ‘Blood Battle Styles’ that utilize their own blood as weapons, and their members include a mummy-like man, a merman, and even a vampire hunting relative of Van Helsing.
Despite such a large cast, Leonardo stays consistently the protagonist, and audience surrogate. Cursed with the amazing gift of his godly eyes, he also becomes wrapped up in the new major plotline of the anime adaptation, revolving around a mysterious girl he meets at the hospital, and an insidious supernatural conspiracy. With its interesting wide cast, bizarre plots, and over the top action fused with comedy and horror, BBB is one unique take on urban fantasy worth checking out.
The manga is currently being released through Dark Horse Manga, currently up to Volume 7. The anime is being simulcast subbed online through Funimation and Hulu, with a dub version available exclusively through Funimation. The Season One finale airs on July 4th!