After saving the city of Hellsalem’s Lot from the King of Despair, possessor of the ‘All Seeing Eyes of God’ Leonardo Watch has assumed his place as a valuable member of Libra, a secret crime-fighting organisation made up of super-powered individuals with blood themed powers. With Hellsalem’s lot occupied by all manner of humans and monsters, the order of the day has a new threat rearing its head every few hours, and Leo and the other Libra members have their work cut out for them as they try to escort VIPs through the city, hold deadly house parties, and protect their headquarters from all manner of lethal threats. But that’s all in a day’s work for the members of Libra.
Season two of the adventures of Libra comes to us in the form of Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond, an anthology of twelve episodes that follow the various exploits of Leo, Klaus, Chain and the other Libra members that focuses on several smaller, bite-sized stories rather than a season-long narrative. The observations I made in my review of the first season of Blood Blockade Battlefront back in 2017 contains a lot of the same feelings I have for this season in a nutshell; a character focused anthology with an interesting setting that relegates its more interesting and juicier stakes to the final episodes. Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond is much more anthology than its predecessor and still has all the flash and fun of a light-hearted Studio Bones animation, but while I genuinely enjoyed the climax of the show much more, the individual character dramas were much less enticing.
One of the issues I had during my viewing of Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond is that while the series has all the dressing of a genuinely entertaining anime, the substance leaves a little bit to be desired. This was most apparent in the character drama in the show, as relationships generally felt resolved and static and very little changed in how any of the main cast interacted with each other or developed their interpersonal relationships. The arrogant and cocky Zapp who secretly cares for his teammates continues to be arrogant and cocky and Klaus, the leader of Libra, is just a powerful, resolute leader-type and remains that way throughout the 12 episodes. When there were genuinely interesting character moments, like delving into Chain’s abilities and her ‘link’ to the world and K.K’s struggle to balance her Libra status alongside maintaining a meaningful relationship with her kids, these stories felt separated from the main cast. They were great solitary character beats but did not have any effect on the way these characters interacted with their fellow Libra members. I will concede that interpersonal character drama isn’t something that Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond owes its audience; it presents itself as an anthology for a set of characters that have been around for a while and already cemented their relationships with each other. But it definitely impacted my viewing and had a majority of the characters feeling static.
In good news, there were quite a few things I enjoyed about Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond. Since a lot of Leo’s character metamorphosis happened last season, it’s neat to see how he’s changed and adapted to the chaos of Hellsalem’s Lot. Sporadic explosions don’t phase him as much and he uses the predictability of violence to his advantage, but he’s still very believably freaked out by the situations that get thrown his way. This is best exemplified in a great first episode, which balances fun, action-packed sequences and reacquainting the audience with the series’ vast cast of characters really well. The episode starts off with Leo’s excitement over the release of a new videogame and slowly devolves into a high-stress, action packed chase across the city as he escorts a VIP through the battleground that is Hellsalem’s Lot. The final two episodes of the series are also fantastic, although for very different reasons. Spectral Eyes, Phantom Vision part one and two are a set of episodes that has Leo pursued by the monstrous researcher Dr Gamimozu for his ‘All Seeing Eyes of God’. The episodes play out as a hostage situation as Leo attempts to escape a pursuer only he can see, and alert the other Libra members to the presence of this figure. The stakes are stake-y, the tone departs a little from its standard comedic feel and the tension is great. The personal elements like Leo and his abilities being in focus as well as the inclusion of Leo’s sister Michella elevates this episode into something really effective and I think this focus elevates it above most of the other episodes from this season.
Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond is fun and flashy but it’s missing punch, which is a shame because the setting has a lot of potential and is rife with hilarity. Unfortunately, the lack of effective character drama made my viewing less interesting aside from a few standout episodes, but people who love the characters are sure to enjoy these smaller stories that this 12-episode anthology presents.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.