Blood Blockade Battlefront, vol. 1
By Yashuhiro Nightow
Dark Horse, 208 pp.
Rating: 16 +
New York City is no more, destroyed in an instant when the wall between our world and the Other World was torn asunder. In it’s place is Jerusalem’s Lot, a metropolis contained within a mystic barrier, teeming with supernatural and human life. Unfortunately not everyone likes to live alongside each other harmoniously and when something threatens the fragile peace Libra springs into action. From Yashuhuro Nightow, acclaimed creator of Trigun comes Blood Blockade Battlefront.
I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when I picked this up. From the description it sounded like a modern take on the ideas seen in various works from Hideyuki Kikuchi, and I suppose it is in a way but it skews a bit more strongly towards the action and comedy genre then the weird fiction and horror genre of the latter’s works. Blood Blockade Battlefront introduces us to the secretive world of Libra through the eyes of Leonard Watch, a young man who though some rather confused circumstances finds himself recruited into the group to defend the city from a madman. The book splits itself between two stories, the first one dealing with a madman attempting to sow chaos for no apparent reason and the second, shorter story dealing with a group of beings kidnapping people for snacks. Leonard is likable enough, but he’s not terribly memorable or interesting. Unfortunately the same goes for most of Libra as well. Klaus, the leader is quiet and strong but apparently seething with barely contained rage and violent urges. Zap’s a young, brash fellow who’s verbally abusive and generally comes off as a bit jerkish and dumb. Chain, the only female member, doesn’t really have much of a personality aside from sniping at Zap from time to time. None of them really stand out much and they all felt fairly flat and uninteresting.
Nightow’s artwork isn’t too shabby and the action is fast paced and intense. It can also get a bit messy at times with a few panels and sequences being incomprehensible and cluttered. Still, at least he gives things backgrounds, plus some of his character designs are pretty eye catching. The various creatures and monsters that appear throughout the volume are generally pretty interesting and fascinating to look at, which really makes me wonder why they’re relegated to villains and group shots and why Nightow didn’t bother to include one as a member of Libra. The Libra cast, for their part are pretty slick looking but aren’t the highlights of the book that you’d hope they’d be.
All in all, Blood Blockade Battlefront feels like the manga equivalent to a popcorn flick. It’s perfectly acceptable, middle of the road entertainment that you’ll enjoy at the time but probably won’t think about too often after you’re finished with it. There’s nothing wrong with that, but given the buzz around Nightow thanks to Trigun I guess I was expecting a bit more.
Blood Blockade Battlefront, vol. 1 is available now from Dark Horse Comics.