Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront) Review & Characters - New York City Got a Little Stranger

kekkai-sensen-wallpaper2-700x453 Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront) Review & Characters - New York City Got a Little Stranger

New York City Got a Little Stranger

  • Episodes : 12
  • Genre : Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Shounen, Super Power, Vampire, Supernatural
  • Airing Date : Apr 5, 2015 - Jun 21, 2015
  • Producers : Bones

Kekkai Sensen Preview / Plot (No Spoilers)

Kekkai Sensen is the story of New York City, where a gate has been opened to another world, and all sorts of creatures from eldritch abominations, to cutesy ghouls romping around. The new New York is christened Hell-Salem’s Lot, and it’s here that we meet our main character, Leonardo Watch. Leonardo becomes involved with an organization of super humans, called Libra, who fight crimes of a supernatural element. Leonardo has a power of his own, the all-seeing "eyes of the gods” that was given to him in a traumatic event from his childhood.

kekkai-sensen-wallpaper2-700x453 Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront) Review & Characters - New York City Got a Little Stranger

Who does Kekkai Sensen cater to?

If Kekkai Sensen outright tailors to any specific tastes unique to typical Anime Action/Sci-fi fare, it might be to a western one. It’s set in New York City, and it shows they did their research, nailing some NYC details on the nose. It boasts a robust soundtrack with a lot of jazzy pieces. Many who have seen the show have said it’s given off somewhat of a Baccano! feel, if you’ve enjoyed the atmosphere and style there, you’ll feel at home here. Despite attributes what I think would make the show popular in the West, Kekkai Sensen is just plain good. Anyone with a moderate interest in the action, sci-fi, supernatural genres should start tuning in if you haven’t already.

What's so appealing about this piece of work.

Kekkai Sensen has an excellent and under hyped pedigree. It’s based off a manga by Yasuhiro Nightow, of Trigun and Gungrave fame which both achieved western popularity. This may only be Rie Matsumoto’s second directorial credit but her first Kyusougiga was very well-received, and put her on a lot of folk’s respective radars. Acclaimed Studio Bones is handling the animation, and they’re a big part of what makes the show gorgeous. If there’s one area that Kekkai Sensen succeeds, its style. Everything from the story telling, to the music, to the shot composition and the directing, makes the show feel fresh and energetic. Its episodic format is sometimes hit and miss but the hits outweigh the misses and make this show a standout in the Spring 2015 season.

Kekkai Sensen PV

Kekkai Sensen Main Characters List

Leonardo Watch

kekkai-sensen-wallpaper2-700x453 Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront) Review & Characters - New York City Got a Little Stranger

Voice Actor :Daisuke Sakaguchi

Leonardo Watch is, pardon the Kendrick Lamar reference, a good kid in a mad city. He’s an everyman, and an excellent viewpoint into the antics of Hell Salem’s lot. Leonardo is given the "Eyes of the Gods” a sort of blessing and a curse. However, he did so when a strange being gave him and his sister the ultimatum to make one blind, and give the other this power. Leonardo’s sister volunteers to give up her sight for her brother and Leonardo feels indebted to her, and ashamed of his weakness. Leonardo starts up in Hell Salem’s lot in order to help her find a way to cure her blindness. Not the strongest fighter in the world, and out of step amongst the super-humans he’s involved with. But he’s good-natured, funny and goes out of his way to be kind. Leo is an easy guy to root for.

Klaus von Reinherz

kekkai-sensen-wallpaper2-700x453 Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront) Review & Characters - New York City Got a Little Stranger

Voice Actor :Rikiya Koyama

If Leonardo is a bit out of step with the superhuman’s of Libra, Klaus is definitely at home. The Leader of Libra, Klaus is also by far the strongest and extremely intelligent. His burly, animalistic appearance contrasts with his gentlemanly demeanor. Klaus, in addition to being extremely strong and intelligent is also honorable to a fault. Though being extremely strong, he’s kind, approachable and quirky. He’s the strongest fighter in Libra, and his noble qualities make him to a prototypical good guy but he’s still fun to watch.

Contains Spoilers

Kekkai Sensen Review

It’s hard to begin to talk about Kekkai Sensen, which seems like a smattering of so many good things at once it’s difficult to pick a starting point. Now, Kekkai Sensen does have significant drawbacks, but they don’t take away from the fact that this well mad, memorable series.
Rather than deal with the bad first, In this case, I think it might be better to start with what the show does right seeing as the reasons are bountiful and ultimately outweigh the bad.

Kekkai Sensen is energetic almost to a fault. Whole episodes are packed with so much stuff you might feel the need to rewind 15 seconds here and there to catch all of it. Similarly, there’s just so much going on in some of the frames, particularly the action sequences it’s like looking at a feast that you can’t eat too much of. It works entirely to the shows favor, you’re left wanting more and you’re more prone to re-watching episodes.
Of any show this fall, as of right now, Kekkai Sensen might be the one I’m looking forward to re-watching most because, like a plate at an all you can eat buffet, there’s just so much of it in one sitting.

This energy is backed by a very solid world building that’s done mostly with visuals instead of long, boring info dumps which would severely clash with the frantic pace. Hell-Salem’s lot is a beauty to behold. Often the show uses wide-panning shots to fit as much as it possibly can of the surrounding sights and they are very much sights you want to see.
As a Long Islander myself (Long Island lies next to the Isle of Manhattan, bordering NYC) it was awesome to see the detail put into making it feel like New York, but one gone even madder than it already is. Little things like subway signs, cop car designs, use of faux brands (A soda called "Peps”, a fast food joint called "Kentudgy Fried Chicken”) gives the show a definite New York-American feel.

But it’s definitely a New York that has gone mad. Creatures which drive the range of cute, Pokemon-esque critters to nightmare inducing ghouls abound. These beings called "Beyondians’ are mostly harmless though some of their stronger and more ambitious members (as well as some humans themselves) definitely cause a bit of havoc. The show does an excellent job visually of immersing you to this strange New York.
Some of the prettiest moments to look at are dialogue scenes where you can see giant, flying Beyondians float in between sky scrapers. It gives the a show a sense of scale, wonderment and adds to show which already has so much going on in every frame. Bones has also done a great job with the animation as to be expected, and they’ve done a great job of making Nightow’s memorable character designs come to life.

One of the show’s biggest drawbacks is its episodic format. Kekkai Sensen does have continuous currents going on underneath many of the episodes which come off as semi self-contained stories, and these are some of it’s more interesting elements.
To its credit, the good episodes outweigh the bad episodes for sure, but they also make the bad episodes a little more glaring then they would if the show had more connected arcs. This might be an example of Kekkai Sensen pace being a little too fast. They jam so much into one episode that characters may feel a little less developed, or a have a fight scene that’s less engaging and more "SHOUT YOUR ATTACK BEFOREHAND” cliché filled.

However, the show has some truly great entries. Episode 6 of Kekkai Sensen is, in my view, the single best episode of anime we’ve seen so far in Spring 2015. Much of the better episodes in Kekkai Sensen have a strong thematic element and a point to make.
Episode 6 deals with discrimination in a way that’s almost too close to home in the United States, but is also present in a wide swath of countries. Beyondians are treated with a kind of casual disdain, that’s both pervasive and institutional. The cops look away when a creature called Nej is being abused by some humans, and some human on lookers make comments which range the gamut from victim blaming, to expressing concern but not doing anything about it. Leonardo, always characterized as kind, even makes a half derisive comment before realizing he’s actually saying it and then remarks "Eh, did I say that out loud?”
It’s a powerful examination over how a lot of discrimination occurs in the modern day, less overt, but still pervasive and often times lying on the fulcrum of common practices and widely held beliefs.

Leonardo confronts the people abusing Nej and starts a sequence of events that lead him to question how he and his allies see Beyondians. Nej and Leonardo become friends, and the episode ends has a heartwarming, satisfying conclusion. This was truly a standout episode, that knew how to handle a delicate topic seriously all the while managing a softer, gentler tone and pace to it’s usual over the top, speed of light gauntlet. It knew how to have some comedic breaks in a serious tone that never make what’s going on feel too silly or ridiculous to lose its sense of importance.

Episode 3 is another strong one. This is where see Klaus von Reinherz’s mettle as he plays a high stakes game of Pros fair with an alien who has studied the game for years. Pros fair is kind of like Chess on Bath Salts, played across multiple boards the longer the game goes on the more boards are added and some of them eventually become spheres. It’s a game that, like many things going on in Kekkai Sensen, defy any real-world limitations.
The stakes being bet on is Klaus’s life, if he loses he dies, but if he survives the game and doesn’t lose in a certain amount of times, he saves a man's life. That man who recently just lost a game to the same alien Klaus is tangled with, and the man who asked that, if he won, the alien would kill Klaus. Klaus plays such a high risk, mind bending game to save someone who’s pretty wretched out of his sheer moral fortitude, stating "People are weak, and because of their weakness, they make decisions that disrespect themselves. But so what?
That's no reason for me to alter the way I live my life.”

There’s a lot to unpack in that sentence as it relates to human action, how we judge and are judged and the expectations to act on behest of others. But there’s no doubt, it establishes Klaus as a guys who’s willing to go any length and sacrifice for others. Oh, and this game of Pros fair? He plays it for 99 hours straight, no big deal.
Though some episodes shine, a few don’t.
And this is usually because Kekkai Sensen’s other big weakness is it’s characters. They are all fun to watch, no doubt, but few are compelling. Klaus hasn’t had a great episode since episode 3, and aside from Leonardo, we haven’t seen anything where a character comes off as truly compelling, complex or interesting. There’s no solid character drama or consistent emotional conflicts as of yet.
As some of the continuous threads of the show keep unraveling, it appears we might be heading there, but for a show that’s 8 episodes in, that is strong on so many other aspects, it’s conspicuous in it’s absence. And that’s the point you should remember, it’s not as if the characters or so uncompelling or so unoriginal, but when everything else is so good, you really feel the lack of numerous gripping characters that could have taken this series into masterpiece territory.

1. Hell Salem’s Lot

kekkai-sensen-wallpaper2-700x453 Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront) Review & Characters - New York City Got a Little Stranger

Hell Salem’s Lot is the Island of Manhattan where ghouls, ghosties, aliens, vampires and all manner of strange folk run around, causing havoc. So basically, it’s not too much different from real life New York. Just kidding. But Hell Salem’s Lot is about as interesting a New York as you’ve ever seen in fiction, and it really does feel like they took the time and research into getting the city right and filling it with otherworldly denizens.

2. Beyondians

kekkai-sensen-wallpaper2-700x453 Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront) Review & Characters - New York City Got a Little Stranger

Beyondians are the otherworldly creatures that inhabit Hell Salem’s lot along with the Humans. Beyondians tow the line and are everything from total and complete monsters, to good, kind-hearted souls… not unlike the human race! Beyondians are a huge part of what gives the city it’s flair.

3. Libra

kekkai-sensen-wallpaper2-700x453 Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront) Review & Characters - New York City Got a Little Stranger

Libra is a lovable band of misfit super-humans who take to fighting supernatural crime in the city. They’re wild, vivacious and super strong. They’re the narrative lens behind a lot of the series vignettes and they’re a perfectly outlandish point to focus a series built on so much madness.

I’m very excited to see the path Kekkai Sensen takes us on, and I hope I inspired you to walk it if you haven’t already. Sometimes, I do feel the weight of style over substance when watching this show. But for most of the time, Kekkai Sensen is just pure fun to watch. It jam packs an episode full of content like it’s an little kid adding cookies to his lunchbox. I’ve expressed my misgivings, but they’re not a reason to turn away from Kekkai Sensen, rather, there a reason to tune in, and hope they improve. Overall, this is one of the strongest entries that Spring 2015 has to offer, and you don’t want to miss it.

kekkai-sensen-wallpaper2-700x453 Kekkai Sensen (Blood Blockade Battlefront) Review & Characters - New York City Got a Little Stranger


Author: CJL

Long Islander who loves anime. Interested in politics, philosophy and also a huge fan of sports and video games. Just about any series can get me going if it’s done well. From cute girls doing cute things shows, to gritty-action or space-opera or mecha series. Comment on my articles, let’s get a conversation going.

Previous Articles

Top 5 Anime by CJL