First Impressions of Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond

It’s been two years since the end of Blood Blockade Battlefront, arguably the best show of 2015 and one of my personal favorite Anime of all time. You can check out my review of season one here.

Now, I won’t act like I didn’t have my doubts going into the currently airing sequel. I was cautious after hearing that Rie Matsumoto would not be directing this time around. The loss of one creative mind can mean a big difference in determining whether the ship will sail or sink. Thankfully, Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond has not just sailed in its first three episodes, it has soared.
As if in complete self-awareness of why we watch Studio Bones shows, the first episode’s cold opening begins with an incredible cut by Yutaka Nakamura that instantly sets expectations high for the action in this series, uniting all of the characters for a hilarious and epic intro scene that grabs you by the balls and says “welcome back to the show bitch.” Watch it for yourself below.

I’m glad I waited for a few episodes before doing first impressions on season two because, while the first episode does a great job reminding me why I fell in love with it in the first place, it also brought to light a formula that tends to pop up a lot in this show. Typically it involves Leonardo running to or being taken to a particular destination across the city while crazy shit and destruction are happening all around him, while the rest of Libra pitch in incrementally to help.

Now, this has worked well in every variation the first season proposed to the viewer and led to some of the most memorable action scenes, but I was worried that format would be overused. Thankfully, after watching episodes two and three, I don’t think I’ll have to worry about the action getting too predictable. Speaking of action, episode two may be my favorite episode of the series so far.

To me, the mark of a great episodic series lies in its ability not only to develop existing characters through standalone narratives but to also introduce entirely new characters and get me invested in them by the end of the episode. The second episode, titled “A Phantom Hospital Ward Rises,” manages to do both, all while delivering on some sweet action scenes with Klaus and Steven.

It is a flashback episode centered around Klaus and Steven during the Great Collapse taking refuge in that same Hospital still helping people, even as all of New York goes to hell around them. The screen time devoted to both Klaus and Steven already sold me, but the introduction of Luciana Estevez and the story of her and the hospital made for one of the most entertaining standalone episodes I’ve ever seen in an Anime. The following episode didn’t disappoint either.

The third episode was a more multi-faceted story as it followed several of the characters on their time off from work. It is great to see characters like Chain and Steven get more screen time. Honestly, one of my complaints with season one is that we didn’t get more time to spend with the supporting cast. With no implication of a through-line plot similar to season one, this season appears to be one dedicated to enhancing its characters. And pleasantly, it might be able to do it better than before.

As I stated in my review of season one and even earlier in this first impressions, I have a great respect for the talents of Rie Matsumoto as a director. However, even at it’s greatest heights, season one’s presentation could come off a bit too sudden. Major action sequences could become cluttered and confusing and as much as I love the glorious 40-minute season finale, there were moments that were genuinely confusing.

The pacing helped define the aesthetic and appeal of the show, but it also could hurt it. Season two doesn’t suffer as much from this and that was a big relief to me. The direction is less confusing, but it by no means dumbed down. Episode three was a bit more relaxed in terms of pacing, appropriate given the characters were off duty in this episode.

All this and Taisei Iwasaki is back doing the soundtrack with an opening by Union Square Garden and an addicting ending by DAOKO (MEMEME!) and Yasuyuki Okamura (Space Dandy). Despite the concerns going in, I am happy to say that Blood Blockade Battlefront is back and better than ever. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

Thank you for reading! This truly is one of the best action shows out their right now and you should all watch it… SO GO WATCH IT!

Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond is available for legal streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation Now.

For more Anime reviews, analysis, and more, follow my blog. Hope you enjoyed, and as always, I’ll see you next time.

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