There's been a few pretty gothic series coming to the UK lately, but Trinity Blood has probably been the most hotly anticipated.
Set in a post apocalyptic future, the world of Trinity
Blood has seen the people of earth split into two distinct factions.
In the East vampires, long thought to be the stuff of legend, have risen from
the ashes of a blasted world to form the Empire and aim to take control of the
world. In the West the remaining humans have turned to the Catholic church
to defend them against the vampires, and the Vatican has answered the call.
Both the Vatican and the Empire are global powers and exist on the brink of
all-out war, and there are forces at work who wish to make that war a reality.
Cardinal Francesco di Medici, the hawkish adviser to the young and indecisive
Pope Alessandro XVIII, wants to wipe the vampires out for good. All that
stands in the way of his plans is his sister and fellow Papal advisor Cardinal
Caterina Sforza, a liberal who wishes to see humans and vampires co-exist.
In order to diffuse potential flashpoints and prevent a war from occurring,
Cardinal Caterina commands AX, a secret organisation of priests with special
powers that eliminate threats and vampiric insurgents. The story follows
the AX agent Abel Nightroad, a seemingly bumbling priest who is in fact a
Crusnik - a vampire that feeds on the blood of vampires. At Caterina's
command Abel travels throughout the Catholic territories and protects the
innocent, but a mysterious threat is looming that could prove beyond even his
abilities to prevent...
Before anyone points it out, it has to be said that Trinity Blood draws a lot from another vampire anime - Vampire Hunter D. Like Vampire Hunter D it features a post-apocalyptic world where sci-fi meets fantasy and vampires have risen to become a major power. It also features a lead character who is more than a vampire and preys on them, but unlike the Vampire Hunter D films it has the interesting angle that vampires and humans could potentially live in harmony. Humanity isn't scattered and scratching for survival in the
wastelands, there are cities and technology, society has mostly recovered from the cataclysm that devastated the world. The same is true of the vampires, or 'Methusalahs' as they are known in the series. There are cities and society, and there are less differences between the two societies than you may think. Both are focused on protecting their people and view the other as a threat, it does make a refreshing change to the usual marauding vampire set up even if the focus so far has been strongly on the humans. It's interesting to see a little bit of originality in the stale vampire genre, and one of the most intriguing aspects is that although the vampires can prey on humans, they don't actually need to in order to survive.
This makes the story a lot more interesting, as on the one hand the possibility of coexistence is there, but on the other both sides could live without the other so war is also a possibility. These interesting story elements are frustratingly only touched on in this first volume though.
Instead we get four standalone episodes that hint at a bigger picture but are nothing special in themselves. Psychic girls, vampiric terrorists and corrupt city officials make for enjoyable enough plots, but they're hardly original. Abel Nightroad bumbles around like Trigun's Vash the Stampede and is similar to Hellsing's Alucard when in his Crusnik form. Although it's entertaining enough it's pretty generic in this first volume, leaving only the potential bigger plot involving the mysterious Rosen Orden and the superb animation and design to pick it up.
Clean opening and ending sequences and trailers are joined by a gallery of Trinity Blood themed Tarot cards, each featuring artwork from the series. Unfortunately the tarot cards are included as a DVD extra rather than a physical pack, meaning you can't actually use them to cast a tarot as they always cycle through in the same order. An interesting extra, but a bit of a missed opportunity.