Oh. Well. That’s… a change of pace.
All right, let’s get caught up on season 2 of this. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more than the last one.
Six Episodes Later…
Well, it was different, anyway. I find it hard to really talk about it at length, though. Honestly, the series up to this point has been pretty consistent with the previous one in all the right ways. It manages to keep the explosion of style that was the real star of the previous season. The visuals and music just really make this show awesome to behold, even when nothing of great import is happening. From the vibrant action scenes and the seedy New York backdrop to the jazzy music that highlights all the fighting, everything about the show’s presentation is designed to get your attention. And it does.
So what’s different about this season so far? Well, for one thing, there’s yet to be any real sense of an actual plot. Each episode so far has been pretty self-contained, telling its own story. Of course, there is the consistent throughline of Leo wanting to find a cure for his sister’s condition. But that’s really pretty insignificant so far, and only really came up in any significant way in the most recent episode. We’ll come back to that.
Because of this, the series isn’t really building to anything. Which would be completely fine if it was intended to just be an episodic series. But as pointed out in the review of the last season, Leo doesn’t seem to really have a goal. Well, now I have to revise that statement because he definitely does. But he isn’t pursuing that goal in any meaningful way. You can make a passive protagonist work. But this isn’t really how to do it.
Even in the most recent episode, he only asks the doctor about a way to fix his sister because he happened to wind up there after an injury. Ultimately what this boils down to is Leo being a really weak protagonist. He’s a fine character, but he doesn’t do a lot of meaningful protag-ing. In the last season, his personal goals didn’t really align with the plot at all. It just allowed him to relate to the characters who did. In this season there isn’t even that much going on, so it comes across as his goals just getting sidelined for other things. So while the episodic and relaxed nature of this season is refreshing, it probably works to Leo’s detriment.
And speaking of Leo, can we just take a moment to address how much of a supreme butt-monkey the man is? He has got to have the absolute worst luck in the history of any man living or otherwise. Not only did this entity just appear randomly (as far as we know so far) to him and his sister, putting him in this situation to begin with, but in the first episode back he has his entire apartment blown up, he’s constantly getting bullied by Zapp (who is growing more and more annoying by the episode, if I’m honest), he gets beat on, stolen from, and is generally just abused by life, itself. And here’s the thing. It’s… just not funny. Watching any character be the butt of the joke for too long without reprieve just ceases to be entertaining after a while. And soon it leaves the point of sheer apathy to becoming awkward to watch, and eventually just flat out uncomfortable. I mean, nothing good ever seems to happen to this guy. Aside from the sheer factor of not being dead yet, despite the fact that he very well should be.
I would also like to point out that pacifism is an admirable trait. But Leo’s borders on “too dumb to live.” Here he is, faced with people who could outright murder him. The lowliest scum of human beings. And he refuses to use his powers on them because… he doesn’t think it’d be appropriate to use that technique for his own sake? That’s… ludicrous in all the wrong ways. Using the tools at your disposal to defend yourself isn’t some selfish deed. It’s a basic human instinct. What’s more, he used it “for his own sake” several times in the previous season. Like when his own life was directly in danger and he used his ability to get out of that situation. How is this any different? If not for his willingness to stand up to, and argue with Zapp, who is clearly beyond his power tier, he’d be almost unbearably passive.
Episode 2 gives us the addition of a new hospital (spoiler alert: the old one’s kinda not around anymore, following the events of the last season). This comes with a couple of additional support characters, including an amusing doctor. And I must say I actually dug the episode’s emphasis on Klaus and Steven in particular. It’s good to be getting more out of the other members of Libra, now that that introductory arc is out of the way for Leo. Still, Klaus was perhaps the one character from the last season who was pretty heavily defined already. This didn’t do much to delve into his background aside from further emphasize his history with blood breeds.
We also get a feature for Chain in episode 4, but it still doesn’t reveal a lot about her. We do get a little more of her personality, at least. She normally seems to be pretty apathetic towards everyone and everything, with the exception of Zapp, who she’s actively hostile towards (and is usually the one responsible for delivering whatever karma he’s due). But here we do see that she seems to at least pity Leo, if not actually care a little bit what happens to him (wait, did she ever give Leo his wallet back from episode 3?). And there’s the added factor of her crush on Steven, which was amusing. We saw a little bit in the earlier episodes that she can actually be pretty sadistic in a fight, too. It’s highlighted in her own episode, where she just plays with an opponent for several minutes before ending it. Still, the episode doesn’t give us much of a peek into her character beyond those vague traits that aren’t really all that defining. A little background would be appreciated, however slight. Her squad got more than she did. And this is the first time we even see them. And yes, I know being an enigma is kinda the point. But that only holds water for so long.
Gilbert’s episode was fine. I didn’t expect to get an entire episode dedicated to him since he hardly did anything in the last season aside from driving his car. I don’t think he even had that many lines. There wasn’t a lot of background with him either, but we did learn quite a bit about why they even have him around. Though I feel like I have to address this. What is it, lately, with poorly lit action scenes?! Seriously. Black Clover, now this? And unlike that show, this series is pretty consistently beautiful. Why hide that by making everything dark and hard to see?
Episode 6 was a bit of a mixed bag. It didn’t really highlight any one character, despite there still being a few it could do something with – Zed, K.K., and so-on. What this episode does is highlight the sheer volume of work that Steven and Klaus do, and the scale of responsibility they have to bear on a regular basis. These are guys whose actions can mean the fate of millions of lives. That’s stress. However, the episode also sort of brings Leo’s sister back into the forefront. Not in that she actually shows up. It’s just that he spends most of the episode worrying about her. The actual problem of the episode was… different. Though can I just ask one thing? What the devil happened to Anila? We never find out.
The last we see of her, the bad guy is just right behind her. Did it kill her? Furthermore, why? I’m not gonna harp on it too much, but why even have her in the episode if you’re just going to kill her and not even address it after the fact. As tightly knit as these guys seem to be, even with their side characters, I doubt they’d just not talk about it if she was dead. I get the feeling Libra doesn’t deal in expendable people. The part about it not being addressed is what leads me to believe she’s fine. Otherwise, there would have been literally no reason to bother sticking her in the episode. Thus if she is dead, I’m now annoyed. And I’m not going to get into it beyond that because we know me well enough by now to understand why I find that to be a problem.
So how much has the series changed? Has it improved? Well, it’s more or less the same hyper-stylized thing it was before, just without as much of the clever storytelling. Though it replaces that with a little more character from certain members of the cast, and seems to be intent on delving yet deeper into those left. So I can’t say it improved or got worse. I think it so far just remains where it was – Recommended. But if it’s still not your thing, we have a handful of other reviews and recaps for you. Feel free to check those out, instead!
Blood Blockade Battle Front & Beyond is Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Saturdays at 3:10pm EST.