I hate having massive shows waiting for me on my Tivo. When I've bought an anime series, it will be there forever (excluding those few insidious cases of DVD rot). I can watch it at will...or not watch it at all. I have plenty of discs now almost 10 years old where, strangely enough, having them around makes it less likely that I'll get around to them. Call it a weakness. But Tivo real estate is another story. I have a series 1 Tivo -- yes, I'm one of the early adopters who's never adopted again -- and I hacked it a while back to give myself more hard drive space. The 30 hours at basic quality was nowhere near enough room. Once I had the extra space, I could record a whole season of something at once. And that's what I did with Trinity Blood. It was on Adult Swim, it was anime, I recorded it. End of story. But when the hard drives got cluttered again, it became clear...gotta watch Trinity Blood or Eureka 7. Being the shorter of the two series, Trinity Blood came up first.
After watching what would have amounted to a third of the series, I realized I could clean up my Tivo pretty quickly. Sadly, Trinity Blood is a mess of a story concept that could have worked if it weren't so riddled with plot holes (and surprisingly dull).
Trinity Blood's convoluted backstory sets up a scenario where Armageddon (of a sort) took place nearly a millennia ago. Now the world is divided into two factions. Humanity is under the protective powers of the Roman Catholic Church, which defends against the ongoing attacks of the Methuselah. The Methuselah are a race of vampire-like creatures who need to feed on blood to survive, though they are in many ways still very human. It's here that the story creates its first problems...if the Methuselah can reproduce and can live for hundreds of years, wouldn't they very soon outnumber humanity? And if humanity dies out, assuming they need human blood, doesn't that also mean "game over" for them? But Trinity Blood really isn't interested in these questions.
Instead, Trinity Blood spends much of its first eight episodes introducing us to Abel Nightroad, a kindly priest who happens to be at least 1000 years old and is in fact some creature in the middle of the two. It's not fully defined in these episodes if he is truly a Methuselah himself, though web sources confirmed for me that he indeed is a unique manifestation called a Crusnik. At any rate, he's a goodhearted if bumbling guy who never has enough to eat due to his vow of poverty. When things get tense with strange creatures or Methuselah-caused disasters, though, he pulls out the stops and becomes quite the fighting machine.
But here again is a sore spot with me and Trinity Blood. Abel's clumsiness and demeanor don't seem to be an act; they are genuine. That fact makes it impossible to believe that he is a thousand-year-old being. One could argue that it's just the way he is; however, I didn't buy it. With Superman, you know that the Clark Kent routine is just a wink-and-grin cover, and even then, Superman still makes mistakes because as smart as he is, he doesn't have a thousand years of wisdom under his belt. Abel should be the Pope. Instead, there's some lame kid called Alessandro XVIII in the office who's guarded by his power-hungry siblings, and Abel's out playing the doofus. He's not as annoying as Jar-Jar Binks, but he rubbed me the wrong way, which is unusual. I could not imagine spending a lot more time in his company. After eight episodes, I honestly could say that I didn't care what happened to him.
There are plenty of other things that bugged me, too. The whole setup is wasted. The Methuselah really don't act like vampires. Wouldn't be cool to watch a show like this with a bunch of bloodthirsty vampires desperate to save themselves attacking a city guarded by Catholic soldiers in a massive LOTR-battle only with massively cool technology? Yeah, well, if that happens, I'm sorry I missed it, but there's no real hope of it here. At the same time, the church is just a fill-in for a generic medieval kingdom; nothing here has anything to do with the actual Catholic Church except that there are priests and nuns. Meanwhile, characters serve stereotypical roles. Esther, a nun who befriends Abel, doesn't seem to have any purpose other than to be a damsel in distress. Caterina and Fredrico are the obviously power-mad siblings who would love to control their Pope brother. Father Leon (in episode 7) is your man-with-a-past who acts like he cares about nothing but has a heart of gold deep underneath. Going past that, I found that, for the first time ever in my memory, I really even hated the costume design. And the hits just keep on coming!
There was another show in a similar vein that I remember having a slow start, and it nearly kept me going to watch more of Trinity Blood. That show was Witch Hunter Robin. There are definite similarities between the two, not least of which is a lead character who seems to be working against his or her own kind. But what kept Robin going was strong characterization that was clear even through some very mediocre one-shot stories. I cared about Robin and her crew. But without that same interest in these characters, I knew Trinity Blood might improve plot-wise but not in the areas that really matter to me.
Look, I wanted to like Trinity Blood. I used to like vampire stories, and ones that are decent, I still do. But that's not what this is. It's a sci-fi story with minor political intrigue wrapped in a vampire shell, and not a very good one. It's poorly executed and full of clichés. It's not awful anime; there's nothing groaningly bad. But it kept me from watching better anime and hogged space on my Tivo, and that's crime enough.
Trinity Blood Vol. 1 & 2 -- violence, bad costume design -- C-