TW: This show contains a lot of NSFW stuff―blood, gore, implied nonconsensual sex and degrading name-calling. Oh, and spoilers on this article, too.
I have my reservations every time Netflix calls something that isn’t produced by a Japanese studio an “anime.” And the fact that some people call any animation these days as an anime doesn’t sit well with my weeb ass either.
But then I heard “anime” and “Greek mythology” in the same sentence. Who am I to immediately dismiss this fusion of my two favorite cultural markers? I had my doubts, but I would gladly kick these biases aside and dive into the dark, chaotic world that is “Blood of Zeus,” Netflix’s new addition to its animation roster.
Bloody hell, it’s, well, bloody
When I put “blood” and “gore” up there, I mean it. This show isn’t like the typical Bible cartoons presented on Sunday mornings. “Blood of Zeus,” as it implies in the title, is quite bloody. Bloodier than your average animated show about mythical creatures.
There are many otherworldly creatures, some straight off Greek lore and some not entirely canon (if there’s even a canon version of Greek myth) but fit right into the dark Ancient Greek we’ve been teleported into.
Maybe it’s my trypophobia, but this show has (plot)holes
I don’t like holes very much. Blame Junji Ito and his fascination with them.
And I’ll be honest, the entirety of Greek mythology itself is full of plotholes. How does Zeus, supreme Olympian and ruler of the skies (a very big domain, I should add), find the time of day to mingle with mortal women? If the gods descended from titans, who created the titans? If gods are almighty powerful beings, how come mortals are able to go up against them? Feel free to hit me up if I missed this out from years of self-studying Greek mythology.
Pretty much like Greek mythology itself, “Blood of Zeus” has some pretty glaring holes. Zeus, having that much power in his hands, battling giants bigger than him and overlooking tiny details like, I don’t know, the giants’ corpses still existing? All in the same breath. It just… doesn’t make sense to me.
The main character needs a little bit of seasoning
Because he’s pretty bland. I’m sorry, but it’s quite hard to connect with the protagonist Heron because he’s just… there. Most of the time.
Not saying every Greek myth hero has to be some Herculean beast with oozing charm and a neat sword but as someone whose story I’m supposed to follow, there’s something missing from Heron.
Like, I expected Heron to be a little more… expressive, especially upon learning the truth about himself. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s pretty big news. Imagine being ostracized by the village, not fully knowing why until years later. Yeah, I’d be all sorts of emotions.
But giving credit where credit is due, he does develop quite a bit as the series progresses, though sometimes he gets overshadowed by side characters like Grand Archon Alexia―who, by the way, can literally step on me. Like my god, the badassery, the golden female warrior realness, the―yeah, uh. The protagonist. Sometimes I forget he’s the protagonist.
The villain subplot could have been better
NGL, I grew up watching episodes of Disney’s “Hercules” and booing the ever-infuriated Hades and his flaming bald head every time he appears on screen. Like I get it: Ah, Hades, King of the Underworld. Hades dark, Hades bad.
And that’s kind of what I hoped “Blood of Zeus” would deviate from. This whole portrayal of Zeus as the good father who only wanted what’s best for everyone, and of Hera being his messy wife and Hades being his possibly evil brother is just… old and tired, man.
But for eight episodes, I understand that it’s not gonna be easy to flesh out all of these amazing characters. Maybe it’s just my personal attachment to Greek myths speaking, but there’s this longing for untold sides of the myths that I could only find in and be comforted by headcanons.
What happened to the other gods? How did the antagonists just happen to have all this hatred for the king of the gods and his children? Maybe I sound like a villain apologist, but hey, is there anyone who says they’ve never rooted for a villain ever in their lives? I’ll bet you’ve at least picked one to stan.
Stayed for the solid art direction, tho
Fun fact: The guys behind the “Castlevania” anime on Netflix, Powerhouse Animation Studio, were also the ones who developed “Blood of Zeus” (which, BTW, also calls for a trigger warning for body harm and gore, for anyone thinking of watching it).
One particular scene I really liked was when the old man was telling the story of the origin of the demons plaguing the village. I was disgusted with some of the demons and giants here so congrats, Powerhouse Animation. It’s the closest I can get to the monsters Greek demigods faced, enough for me to rethink if I deserve my imaginary spot at Camp Half-Blood.
Props also to this series for taking great care in portraying a Black character. Many Black characters in anime, or animation in general, tend to lean toward caricature territory. While we do know of a Black-owned anime studio, it’s great seeing characters being good representations and people actually identifying with them.
That’s the beauty of animation, and fiction in general. You can argue that the characters aren’t exactly real, but bits and pieces of their origins, personalities and adventures are what real people can relate to.
Still from “Blood of Zeus”