We see if the new animated series from Netflix soars to Olympus or gets dragged down to Hades.
Netflix’ animated offerings have yet to really light a fire under me. I hated the Castlevania adaptation, and found other intriguing series such as The Midnight Gospel to be lacking. It’s with trepidation that I fired up the latest action animated series from Netflix: Blood of Zeus.
I had not seen any marketing for the series, and the story was fairly generic in its description. It was not looking like a likely candidate. The early going seemed to suffer from the same stumbling blocks as many of Netflix’ new cartoons – the quality of the animation and action sequences was wildly uneven, and the characters were creations straight from central casting. But…the series wound up growing on me.
Blood of Zeus (2020)
The chronicles of Heron, the illegitimate son of Zeus, a young man tasked with saving heaven and earth despite the interference of a vengeful goddess and her monstrous forces.
Episode 1: A Call to Arms
Heron, a bastard son consigned to the lowest status of Greek society, struggled with the persecution he and his mother endure. A legendary Amazonian warrior, Alexia, arrives in the city, pursued by the demonic spawn of the Titans. Heron displays uncanny prowess in battle aiding her, hinting at the secret of his parentage.
Not a bad start. The art style definitely recalls the first wave of macabre anime to make it big in America in the 1990’s, notably Vampire Hunter D. While not quite as stylized, most of our characters are tall and angular with almond eyes and stoic expressions. The demons and Titans certainly fit in well with that style of anime, with a lot of ghastly body plans and grotesqueness.
The story is a bit generic, and that doesn’t change much. If you had to boil it down, this is a mash between Tarsem Singh’s Immortals and Desmond Davis’ classic Clash of the Titans. The mythology is a bit tortured out of proportion in places, but it goes towards the series having its own take and rules, which it mostly adheres to.
Episode 2: Past is Prologue
As Heron becomes further disillusioned with his lot, an old hermit tells him of a vein of magical metal hidden high up on the mountain behind the village. With the metal, he can craft a sword capable of slaying any demon or god. Heron crafts the sword, only to forsake it upon learning the identity of the hermit: Zeus, king of the gods…and Heron’s true father.
The backstory for Heron gets handled mostly effectively, though it is again fairly formulaic. Heron really starts to test my patience with his peevishness. I also want to punch him right in his petulant godling face for throwing away the sword. You dummy! Demons are roaming the countryside and you throw away a demon killing sword because it reminds you of your deadbeat dad? Wise up, you’d also be holding the only sword capable of threatening your father. Stupid Heron!
Episode 3: The Raid
With Zeus revealed as the father of Heron, the queen of the gods, Hera, flies into a rage. Olympus had been aware of the growing threat that the offspring of the Titans (created by humans partaking of Titan flesh) portended, but had remained neutral upon Zeus’ orders. The king of the gods intended humanity to rise to the challenge of these creatures without the aid of Olympus, but apparently has put his finger on the scales by aiding Heron.
Hera and the faction of gods outraged at Zeus decide to tip the scales as well, leading the demon king, Seraphim, right to Heron’s location.
See, Heron, this is why you hold on to the magic sword!
The first real big action sequences are pretty good, as is the gods subtly flexing their muscles while trying to not out-and-out intervene. Alexia pops back into the story, which is good since her character is great. Heron’s mom gets fridged, which sucks because offing incidental women to motivate a male protagonist is lazy and awful.
Overall, this concludes the first arc, and the three episodes did enough world-building and rule-making that I was intrigued enough to proceed.
Binge or Purge?: Blood of Zeus.
I went ahead and cheated: I binged the whole series in one sitting. Now, that technically makes the call easy – Binge. But…the show does what I feared it would do based on other Netflix animated projects, which was get sloppy.
The animation quality really takes a nose dive in some of the later episodes, though a few high points shine through. The story looked to be building out to a longer adventure, until with a couple episodes left we suddenly get right to the climax of Titans vs. Olympians and Heron vs. Seraphim. It was so abrupt I assumed they’d been canceled, but the series then drops a major hint in the epilogue about a second season.
Blood of Zeus manages to overcome its flaws by being high energy and, frankly, epic. It’s a bit of a lazy epic, story-wise, but it’s got enough of its own ideas woven into classic mythology that I’m kind of looking forward to another season.