With a host of anime that deal with paranormal instances in an otherwise normal world, the setting is getting pretty familiar and happens to be one I enjoy. Urban Fantasy shows such as Baccano! and Bungo Stray Dogs have shown that there is great potential in the genre. There is just something appealing about the supernatural in the mundane, and how stories like it almost drop the viewer in the middle, leaving us to piece everything together. I think that scenario is partially what makes Kekkai Sensen worth the watch.
Kekkai Sensen, also known as Blood Blockade Battlefront, is a great anime series for those looking for a punch of fantasy action set in a familiar setting. It happens to be created by the same mangaka as for the ever-popular Trigun series, Yasuko Kamo. So, the quality of the story is never up to question. With animation by Studio Bones, this is a compact treat.
Personally, I love when high-stakes anime don’t take themselves too seriously. Certain shows take the heavy-handed route, with tons of melodrama as their driving force. But that’s why shows such as Kekkai Sensen work better instead. The lighter note lifts the story up from being tragic and boring to something slightly more chaotic and unpredictable. It’s plain old fun, and that’s what I really want when watching a show like this.
And unlike an Isekai, the setting doesn’t get old. Pairing a chaotic, demonic world with a more dead-pan protagonist clearly works here. You’d think a show like this would be too sporadic and overwhelming, but I think that’s what adds to its charm. Despite its high-intensity action, the world of Kekkai Sensen is highly enjoyable. And if you enjoy quick and quirky fantasy anime, this just might be the watch for you. Let’s discuss!
The Premise: New York But Demon-fied!
After a portal to an otherworldly dimension opens in New York City, the once-great metropolis is transformed into a crime-ridden cesspool with a high mortality rate. Beings from a dimension beyond our own, known simply as The Beyond, start settling into the human world, throwing everything around them into complete chaos.
Meet Leonardo Watch, a simple photographer who gains the ‘All-seeing Eyes of the Gods’ ability but at the cost of his sister’s eyesight. And so, he heads to the Big Apple, specifically to Hellsalem’s Lot, for answers regarding the mysterious power. He soon runs into Libra, a secret organization of both strange beings called eccentrics as well as superhumans, who have sworn to keep Hellsalem’s Lot secure, making sure that the chaos doesn’t breach the outside world.
Desperate to find the answer to his sister’s lower limb paralysis and blindness, Leo ends up joining them, but he realizes quickly that this might’ve been more than he could take. Alongside a bunch of vampires, mermen, and mafiosos, we follow Leo and his misadventures in a world thrown into disarray.
The Breakdown: Clean Animation That Compliments An Otherwise Chaotic Story.
I have the attention span of a goldfish, but I also hyper-fixate on one thing and need to consume it fast. This is why I prefer shows that don’t have multiple seasons or episodes in them. This is where Kekkai Sensen really works out, thanks to its short 12-episode duration.
But other than that, the story itself is so engaging and enjoyable that the time doesn’t seem wasted. The way Hellsalem’s Lot is made, it’s extremely engaging and wild. The plot isn’t complex, akin to Durarara! in how there isn’t the main storyline, letting the characters be the catalyst instead. The world-building here is top-notch, and the pacing reflects that. It’s unpredictable and keeps you on your toes.
One minute you have this genuine moment of camaraderie going on between what are strangers in the Libra organization. Only for the next episode to throw you into a wild scene of a mushroom demon experiencing the wonders of fast-food burgers. It’s so absurd, but that’s what makes the viewing experience so fun.
This show is a visual treat. With Studio Bones doing the heavy lifting on Rie Matsumodo’s directions, they take full advantage of the setting of Kekkai Sensen’s world and create this colorful, dynamic world filled with egregious monsters and flashy chases. Filled with tiny ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ details, it’s delightful to watch.
The Verdict: Bite-Sized But Intensely Satisfying!
Look, I’m just a sucker for a good modern supernatural anime. And the less linear storyline means I don’t get bored with schematics or an overexposed plot. Sometimes, you don’t have to have the most logical plot twists to make things interesting.
When you have a great cast of characters placed into a world nearly as colorful as themselves, you don’t need the extra flairs. Kekkai Sensen is a fun watch if you like your anime quirky and cool.