Netflix has added another title to its collection of original animes, and this time it’s about the Greek gods that we were all obsessed with at one point or another during our childhoods. Blood of Zeus (2020), recently released on Netflix on October 27, follows a young man named Heron who lives in an increasingly troubled world. Long ago, enormous monsters (appropriately named The Giants) roamed the earth, wreaking havoc and sowing chaos everywhere they went. The Greek gods, led by the all-powerful Zeus, fought against these Giants in order to restore peace to the world. The Giants’ dead bodies were cast into the ocean, never to be seen again.
Fast forward a few centuries to Heron’s lifetime, where The Giants have become a problem once more. The corpse of one of the Giants has washed up on a beach, and the humans that eat its flesh are turning into horrifying, bloodthirsty demons. What plays out throughout the rest of the show is the great battle between humans and the demons, but there is turmoil between the gods thrown in as well. Zeus, accurately following traditional Greek mythology, is somewhat of a playboy; he has quite a few mistresses with illegitimate children, and in case you couldn’t figure it out from the title of the show, Heron is one of them. Zeus’ behavior angers his wife, the goddess Hera, so much that she manages to manipulate both demons and gods into doing her bidding. Her ultimate goal? Kill Zeus. Hera has had enough of Zeus’ infidelity, and the personal humiliation that comes with it.
Heron, due to being a bastard son, has been an outcast all his life in the small village where he lives with his mother. His fairly uneventful life suddenly turns upside down when the demons attack his town, led by the terrifying Seraphim, the first man to eat of the Giant’s flesh and turn into a demon. Kidnapped by the demons and unsure of his fate, Heron befriends fellow prisoners Evios and Kofi, as well as a female soldier named Alexia, in an effort to overthrow the demons and save the world from total destruction. With Hera’s evil plans and cunning thrown in, in addition to other gods’ meddling and the demons’ growing power, everything is in utter chaos. While it seems like the outcome is hopeless for the human heroes, they charge on, willing to risk everything to save both the mortal world and Olympus.
This series may be animated, but it’s certainly not for children. The epic fight scenes are accented with plenty of blood and gore, at times even a little too graphic for me. There’s lots of sword slashing and gruesome deaths to keep the show moving, and the design for both the demons and The Giants are good for nightmare fuel. Greek mythology was never pretty to begin with, and this show manages to stay true to the source material. Think of it as similar to the Percy Jackson series, except if everything was rated R.
The decision to label this show as an “anime” is an interesting one. Blood of Zeus is animated in a very similar style as Seis Manos, another Netflix original anime that follows three martial artists in Mexico. Both shows use bold designs, clear-cut (rather than super detailed) scenery, and their characters are very angular and sharply drawn. When I think of an American-made “anime,” the first show that comes to mind is The Last Airbender and its round-faced, big-eyed characters. With its Asian-influenced story, scenery, and characters, The Last Airbender felt much more like a real anime than Blood of Zeus did. I don’t really understand Netflix’s need to distinguish this show as an anime, because its style is quite different from most traditional anime and the design seems very American in nature. While the crisply animated style of Blood of Zeus works well on its own and doesn’t necessarily warrant strict criticism, it feels inaccurate to label it an anime when it drifts so far from the usual anime style.
The plot itself is fairly solid, and the characters are multidimensional and likeable, but the pacing of the plot is where the series falls short. With only eight episodes and a short run time of roughly 30 minutes each, the first season of Blood of Zeus had to cram in a lot of backstory, character development, and plot advancement into a very short period of time. As a result, certain portions of the story felt rushed, with too many reveals and plot twists jammed into a single episode. Perhaps the most disappointing part of the plot was the great discovery that Zeus is, in fact, Heron’s father. This crucial plot point was all-too predictable and a surprise to no one, especially given that the title of the series itself kind of gives it away.
Another shortcoming was the frequently used flashback scenes of the same scene, such as Seraphim’s tragic childhood backstory. The sequence of how his mother died is repeated in slow motion many times, so much so that it feels like the show’s creators wasted precious run time on re-establishing the same traumatizing memories of the character. These repetitions, and the annoyingly slow bursts of slow-motion memories, at times made the plot unlikeable to watch. You really only need to show things once (or at most, two times) in order for the audience to get it.
All things considered, Blood of Zeus is a solid, entertaining show. Since it is so short, it can easily be binge watched in one weekend. While the plot and the animation do have a few deficiencies, overall the show is fun to watch and will probably reignite your childhood passion for learning about the Greek gods and what they do. Blood of Zeus concluded with a final extreme battle between all kinds of forces, both good and evil, and left us wondering if Zeus will come back to life, and what Heron is going to do with his newfound demigod powers. As for Seraphim, it seems like his new involvement with Hades might catapult Netflix into making a second season. Let’s just hope they chill out with the slow-motion recaps next time.