When I saw the first episode of Black Blood Brothers, I thought it had potential to be a real gem of a series. While it was released amidst a peculiar proliferation of supernatural shows, its take on vampire lore stood out as somewhat different from the rest. When a modern-day shipping vessel is boarded by armed men, the vampire kicks some serious arse, stopping bullets in mid-air, displaying magnificent skills with a sword and enormous strength, and wearing a natty long coat with a matching Guy Fawkes hat - both in a fetching shade of red. So far, nothing new. But that’s not mentioning how the vampire has a little brother, a sweet little befanged blonde kid, and when this young sibling annoys him, rather than a typical brothers’ scuffle, the vampire uses telekinesis to slam the poor boy onto the deck so hard it dents it. And it’s oddly enough a great moment.
The two of them are going to a safe zone for ‘Black Bloods’, or vampires. However, all is not peaceful in the community. The ‘Kowloon Child’, a kind of vampire who can infect and control a victim just by biting them (as opposed to having to share blood), is causing problems, and our hero has a history with them.
I liked Black Blood Brothers. Most of the characters were well-designed, well-voiced and some of them had some pretty cool fighting skills. The back-story in London was interesting as it unfolded. However, the trouble is that there just isn’t enough of it. I watched twelve episodes, and thought, ‘Oh good, the exposition’s over. Now the real story can begin.’ But that was it. To tell you just how surprised I was, I seriously thought that I had one episode to go even AFTER I’d already watched episode twelve.
So while the characters, the world and the concept all appealed to me, the twelve episodes just didn’t satisfy. Twelve episodes isn’t necessarily insufficient; there are plenty of series that tell a full story and make their mark in twelve eps – that’s still as much screen time as two movies, after all. But Black Blood Brothers just doesn’t pace itself right. It introduces so many factions that you don’t really get to know any of them. You get some flashbacks, and the twist in them gets unveiled, but they really feel like vignettes, and that there’s plenty more story to come. The bad guys appeared too briefly and were ultimately too inconsequential for their defeat to feel like it supported the whole story.
Perhaps there’ll be another series. The source material is after all a series of novels. But this first taster really feels unfinished, and as such is like a bloodsucking session interrupted – no doubt tasty and seemingly rather erotic, judging by this series – but ultimately unsatisfactory.
Try Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust for a partial story that nevertheless stands well alone.
(originally written 18.1.07)