History and Conception
Blood-C(anime) is a macabre and hellish anime series created in collaboration between director Tsutomu Mizushima and Nanase Ohkawa of the famed CLAMP, a talented group of female manga artists, and Studio Production I.G. Various other skilled groups like Ogura Kobo, Studio Kanon, and Taro house worked on the amazingly detailed background art of different episodes; the staff for Blood-C was one of the largest and most famous for an anime at the time, which made its spawning on the air from July 8, 2011 to September 30, 2011 a highly anticipated event. A manga adaptation of Blood-C(manga) with four volumes was written by Nanase Ohkawa and illustrated by Ranmaru Kotone and published by Monthly Shōnen Ace, running until 2012. Both the manga and the anime were described as a "reimagining" of the Blood+ series, which aired in 2005 and 2006. Blood-C: The Last Dark was later released June 2, 2012 as a sequel to the Blood-C series, and even later, as though they knew we needed more, the theatrical company NEGA Design Works announced they'd arrange and perform a stage play adaptation of the Blood-C anime and movie. The performance for the stage play, which I imagine was rather dark and bloody, was released and ran from July 2, 2015 to July 5, 2015.
The Blood-C anime received mixed reviews, receiving a great amount of criticism for its odd style and exaggerated blood spouting, which the latter caused The Chinese Ministry of Culture to blacklist it, while winning the 2013 Reaper Award for “Best Animation,” an award given by Home Media Magazine and DreadCentral.com, made to appreciate the the top horror and thriller titles released from August 1, 2012 to July 31, 2013.
Saya Kisaragi, a normal, innocent high school girl with no faults, lives happily in a small town in Japan. This is until one night her father, the local shrine priests, pulls her into a fight with mysterious forces, the likes of which can only be handled by a blade. Now Saya must face these mysterious forces and the darkness of her own emotions, memories, and power; and she must face the secrets of a town that appears inviting on the surface.
Interesting Aspects of the Production
Blood-C was a series whose art and style was heavily influenced by the leader of CLAMP, the immensely popular manga artist group with fans - they even chose to avoid making public appearances in order to avoid harassment, and were elected ninth and eighth most popular manga artist in 2008 and 2009, respectively, in polls that were made by marketing research firm Oricon. In an interview, when answering a question about the presence of CLAMP, Tsutomu Mizushima stated "I can definitely say that Blood-C is a strongly CLAMP-flavored project in many ways, both story-wise and visually, starting with the character designs. CLAMP's style and sensitivities permeate the entire series in every way."
And it does, because Blood-C is a heavily spiritual and psychological work, so much so that it's difficult to pin down exactly what are the overarching themes, making it uniquely a deep watch. However, we do know what theme Tsutomu Mizushima had in mind. In the same interview, he says "the theme of this series as I'm trying to convey it is 'never stop believing in yourself.'" And we do get this theme. Saya has to constantly remind herself that she is the kind, normal girl she believes herself to be. Even though it turns out this may not be the case, Saya can really be whatever she wants to be if she truly just believes in herself.
Interesting Aspects of the Show
One of the most interesting aspects of Blood-C to me is its mentioning of philosophical concepts such as human nature and human existence. It gives you a serious quandary on what it means to be human, and for the philosophy lovers among us, it makes the show worthwhile. There is also the theme of the duplicitous nature of humanｓ, and of life, as seen halfway and when you complete the series. This dark element makes you think about the fakeness of society and of people who "act" while socializing for personal gain; so the show can put you in an existential quandary, maybe a dark mood. Fortunately, the advent of Saya releases you from that with her blade as she wantonly cuts through your troubles.
She also makes me think about another aspect we should touch on because of the reality of this day and age and the few ages before that: how Saya is a female main character in a dark, bloody, and immensely psychological series. Given a global history of a lack of strong, cool and uninhibited female main characters, and the only recent blossoming of them, it is significant that Saya is one of them. Perhaps just because of that, the Blood-C series and its other variants are something more special to a female audience, though males, including myself, enjoy the series as well. And perhaps because of the importance of equality and fairness is to us as a people, the instances of female representation in shows may be touched upon now and in the future.
Let us ponder a term I came across while surfing the internet: background porn. That is essentially what some of the art and background images of Blood-C can be described as. There is an emphasis on artistically and realistically detailed background images throughout the series. They contrast to an extent with the highly stylized CLAMP-designed characters, but the overall effect is generally pleasing to the eye. It's an aspect that may not be new, but it's nice to marvel at the background images.
Who Should Watch Blood-C
If you enjoy philosophical sayings, Blood-C will deliver them to you on a silver platter. If you enjoy gore and endless sprays of blood, your mind will be satisfied by the bloody visuals of Blood-C. If you want to refresh yourself with another cool, uninhibited female lead, Saya will take your heart. If Saya doesn't take your heart, you may love shockingly dark shows and plot twists, and may be enchanted by the very strange and ethereal atmosphere of Blood-C. And if you love art, the art of Blood-C will surely accept your love confession. If any of those things apply to you, you'll find Blood-C as something to die for. However, it's not for the faint-hearted or squeamish, as I can already imagine how my mother would be unable to watch it due to the terrifying and shiver-inducing scenes.
Vampire Knight is another mysterious and dark show with a school setting. The difference is that it does not have an immense psychological aspect or overt philosophical aspect like Blood-C does, and there is more romance in Vampire Knight. The two show' character designs are also styled rather differently, so Vampire Knight is going to feel different, perhaps more natural because the character bodies in Vampire Knight are more realistic. Other than that, the shows would be quite similar if Vampire Knight had more emphasis on the female lead fighting and worrying less about romance.
If you watch the shows, you will find the main characters are very similar; they have similar fights with themselves and the things around them, and the premises around their physical traits are similar. Tokyo Ghoul is just a bit more chaotic and less surreal, and is much less focused on a school setting when compared to Blood-C. Other than that, Tokyo Ghoul is in itself an amazing show to watch and read. It contains enough exciting and shameless grotesque images to keep you amazed and a bit perplexed.
Blood-C and Code:Breaker are very different looks-wise and story-wise. However, the main leads share similarities. They both have to believe in themselves and are cool at points, as they fight battles that make them seem like a monster themselves, and both have mysterious pasts. Also, Code:Breaker does have some interesting psychological and philosophical quandaries invoked, the same as Blood-C. Code:Breaker is more of a shounen-type series, so there is a focus on power-ups and epic group fights. It is more exciting rather than strange or surreal like Blood-C, and the art style is also reminiscent of the shounen genre. So if you want to watch something different enough from Blood-C to make you feel refreshed and excited, Code:Breaker is a great choice.
As far as setting goes, this show is the most similar on this list to Blood-C. They both happen in a rural town in Japan, somewhere hidden, thus containing the nightmares within the town, and there is a good dosage of mystery. The differences lie in how Blood-C is seemingly more compact and focused as far as the story goes, and Blood-C gets into action in each episode, building up to a final boss of sorts, whereas Shiki relies mainly on the mysterious and random deathly happenings and reveals near the end, making you not sure where to focus your attention at first. Blood-C is more straightforward with its fights and happenings and you can follow along easily with the mystery. So you should watch Shiki for its similarities to Blood-C and its perpetual mystery.