Review: Blood Of Zeus Starts Slow But Has Us Marveling At Its Mythologically Gorgeous World By The End
Netflix’s newest anime original series comes from a studio with an awesome track record. Powerhouse Animation’s previous anime on Netflix has been stunning, both in the story and visual style. So to expect anything less from the Blood Of Zeus anime review should be outrageous. But despite the new series not entirely on the same level, it’s still one that works to create an engaging story with an animation style and visuals that completely steal the show. So here’s my Blood Of Zeus anime season 1 review, which I love slightly less than the other Powerhouse anime currently on Netflix.
Powerhouse Animation’s Slow Burn Storytelling
Image via Netflix.
The three different anime on Netflix from Powerhouse Animation were from different writers and creators, with Powerhouse providing the visual anime style, and varying levels of input on the stories, I’m sure. I have a massive love for Castlevania and Seis Manos, however, the stories of those shows were by different makers than those of Blood Of Zeus. So my issues with the storytelling, character arcs, and overall plot, in Blood Of Zeus have more to do with the creators than the studio themselves.
One similarity, however, is that all three anime by the studio on Netflix have something in common; their initially slow pacing that ramps up to thirteen by the end of the first season. And Blood Of Zeus sure takes its time getting there. Almost more than halfway into the series, there is little semblance of the overall plot, as things are just happening. And while those things are interesting and engaging, it was difficult to get invested in the characters without an idea of what it’s all about. And it took a long time to get there. But I’m being way too harsh right off the bat.
Blood Of Zeus Anime Season 1 Review Focuses On The Positives
Image via Netflix.
The Blood Of Zeus anime is an interesting one. The story is all about the mythological Greek Gods, while fictionalizing certain elements for a more horror, fantasy, goth-centric story. The story recounts the time of the Gods, as they battle the Titans. However, upon defeat, the Titan’s curse the Gods. When their blood hit the ocean, a new threat emerged in the form of Giants. Despite defeating them as well, the flesh of the Giants’ bodies gave way to a new theology, providing demonic powers to their followers.
When these demons cross paths with an innocent young peasant named Heron, the story takes off. Blood Of Zeus is all about unexpected heroism, tragic pasts, and a large family drama story of epic proportions that feels like it’s right out of Dynasty. The hierarchy of the Gods and their own personal drama, fuelled by the looming demonic threat, and even more backstory is really where Blood Of Zeus excels. The nuances of this world and what came before this story is already cooler than the other movies and shows of this world we’ve gotten before. Although, I wish there was more done with it.
So Much Story, So Little Time
Image via Netflix.
Heron (Derek Phillips) is the hero of this story. It’s his entanglement in this fight between Gods and demons as a commoner is what should have had audiences invested in this story. But the truth is far from it. After demons come knocking on his door, Heron discovers that he is truly the son of Zeus (Jason O’Mara). Well, another one of many half-human bastard sons of Zeus. Discovering that his and his mother’s terrible life was due to the abandonment by, literally, a God, Heron becomes angered. In the midst of all this, more interesting things are happening.
The demons are essentially followers of the Giants of old, whom the Gods entrapped after their defeat. The demons, following what is basically like their religion, led by Seraphim seek to release the Giants, and kill the Gods. But also during this, Queen of the Gods, Hera (Claudia Christian), realizes her husband Zeus’ infidelity (again) by learning of Heron’s existence and vows revenge. So she ends up manipulating Seraphim (Elias Toufexis) to bring down Zeus, while also using the Giants in her plan to hurt her husband. It feels like a lot, and it is, given most of it happens on the last 4-episodes of the 8-episode season.
The Villains Are More Interesting Than The Hero(s)
Where things get interesting, where I sat up and took notice, was the backstory of Seraphim himself. Initially introduced as the villain to this story, Seraphim’s origin is heartbreakingly tragic, and honestly, sort of the crux of the show. The show makes us want to relate to Heron, whose significance to the story is as misleading and disappointing as Jon Snow’s from Game Of Thrones. But it’s Seraphim who has more of a journey, whose motivations are because of his past, and his choices in this story cement that tragedy even more. Whereas Heron just has things happening to him, as he reacts and goes with the flow. Heron’s story does have an eventual payout in the end, with a typical hero’s journey culmination, based on a throwback to one training montage.
Even Hera, the sort-of larger villain of season 1, is also a tragic and misunderstood figure. Sure, she’s risking the fate of the world for her petty revenge on her husband. But she is a Queen of the Gods, who has been betrayed by her husband countless times over the years, with countless different women. Everyone has a breaking point.
The Blood Of Zeus Anime Isn’t All Bad
Image via Netflix.
While it seems like I’m complaining a lot about the show, it’s honestly not that bad. The show gets even more interesting when its story begins to clarify a little bit. Hera uses Seraphim and his need for revenge to accomplish her own nefarious plans. While Zeus trains Heron and tries to tap into his, maybe Demi-God powers to try to save the day. All the while the rift between Zeus and Hera spills over into the other Gods of Mt. Olympus as they have to choose sides.
This is where things get kinda awesome. With Gods fighting Gods in amazing action sequences that only Powerhouse can deliver. I wish the complexity of other Gods having to choose sides was expanded on more. Zeus clearly has a respectful relationship with his brother, Poseidon, but we don’t really see any of it. His other sons, Appolo and Hermes dutifully stand by his side, but there’s no character development for them or their relationships. The Greek Gods have such a deep bench of Gods that could have contributed to this story, and I’m hoping they will come season 2.
There’s also the introduction of other, cooler characters in Elvios (Chris Diamantopoulos) and Kofi (Adetokumboh M’Cormack). Two smugglers and warriors who have their own demons and join Heron’s fight to find their own redemption. There’s also Alexia (Jessica Henwick) an Amazon who leads the two as they attempt to foil Seraphim and Hera’s plans. The introduction of additional characters makes the show more of an ensemble and that much more interesting because of it.
Blood Of Zeus Anime Season 1 Review Is All About Those Stunning Visuals
Image via Netflix.
But more so than anything else in Blood Of Zeus, it’s the animation of Powerhouse that steals every frame of every scene of every episode. Even when nothing is going on, the establishing shots of Olympus, the small towns and exotic locales, are breathtaking. Most of the series is set in daylight, which is such a refreshing change from all other Greek Gods content that always has these night sequences where everything is harder to make out.
Powerhouse’s action choreography remains top-notch, rivaling live-action sequences in their innovative-ness and flow. Even when the fighters are Gods throwing lightning and magic, it’s still grounded in this real-world dynamic that just makes the events so much more immersive. Not to mention cool as hell to watch. So even after all my story complaints, Blood Of Zeus is still entirely engaging to watch. And hopefully, the slow burn of the story and the omission of certain elements are just an attempt to save something for season 2. And there definitely needs to be a season 2 based on how the whole thing ended.
Season 1 of Blood Of Zeus is now streaming on Netflix.
What did you think about the new Netflix anime? Do you have fewer complaints than me about this pretty awesome show? Let me know how I’m wrong in the comments below.
Featured image via Netflix.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.