Mostly just watch the video though
Alright, so this is one review where there wasn’t really a script for the accompanying video.
In fact, we weren’t actually planning on doing a review of the show at all, but when we dug into it the other day on an absolute whim, it was just about impossible to stop the train.
That’s not because Blood of Zeus is fantastic. In our eyes, it’s really not even competent, at least not in the areas of character, dialogue, and narrative.
However, since plenty of folks prefer to read written versions of our reviews rather than going through the videos, we’ll do our best to summarize our thoughts here, in a slightly more relaxed fashion.
Basically, our extreme dislike for this original Netflix “anime” (We also went on a whole big thing about whether or not you can call something an anime if it didn’t actually originate in Japan but simply mimicked a time-honored style of animation. In the end, people have different definitions of the term, so it all comes down to how you feel about this issue.) comes very much from the decisions the creative team made when trying to add to Greek mythology.
It seems that their intention was to add yet another story that would feel like it fit right in with all those wonderful and slightly disturbing Greek myths we all know and love.
But, for us, the show didn’t stay true to Greek mythology in the ways that it really mattered, but it did stay true to Greek mythology when it came to the unsavory parts of those stories and that larger storytelling tradition.
For one, if these folks wanted to do a Greek myth that would fit right in with the rest of them, they overshot the run time by about 10x. Greek myths, in their essence, are very short, and they tend to lead up to a very memorable image that stays with the audience for a long old time.
Blood of Zeus is yet another Netflix project that could have just been the length of a feature film, but instead they decided to stretch it out to encourage binge-watching, which in turn translates to a whole lot of wasted time and uninteresting episodes.
You could maybe argue that this is somehow being true to anime, since we all know anime shows have a habit of stretching out a simple storyline or convoluting it with all kinds of stakes-shattering twists and turns. But, again, that’s bringing something negative from another art form rather than bringing what we like about that form.
But even if Blood of Zeus had only been two hours long, which it should have been, it still wouldn’t be faithfully recreating the Greek myth structure in any way.
If we try real hard, we could make certain myths fit into the three-act structure, especially if we’re using a written version rather than the base stories that were shared through oral storytelling.
But Blood of Zeus apparently would not dare to stray from modern-day action movie or fantasy movie structure, and this just doesn’t fit well with the setting or the characters.
The show also hands the audience a small bunch of bland characters and hopes that we’ll fall in love with them, despite those characters rarely, if ever, giving us a reason to like them or even to distinguish them from every other character in the show.
Our “hero,” Heron, could not be more dull. If he entered a contest to be the most boring protagonist of all time, he would probably lose simply for lack of effort.
In a hilarious moment, Zeus is training Heron in Olympus’s dedicated training arena (gotta have that) with the help of a robot fighting guy. I know, it sounds a lot better than it actually is. It also sounds like Disney’s Hercules. Or Rocky. Or that great episode of Steven Universe with the holo-Pearls training Connie to swordfight.
He keeps telling Heron that anger alone won’t be enough. This is a wonderful moment because Heron has maybe been vaguely angry once before in the show, and that’s about it.
The script assumed that the other episodes had developed this character, and they just hadn’t. The showrunners also apparently assume that our prior knowledge of the major characters of Greek mythology will replace the need to develop any of those characters, too.
But it doesn’t really work like that, especially when these versions of the Greek gods are significantly different from what we already know them to be.
And lastly, we’d like to mention how female characters are treated in the show. So, there’s no rule that you can’t be mean to female characters in fiction. That would be a pretty strange guideline.
But there’s something especially sad going on here, mainly because Blood of Zeus seems determined to relegate its female characters to the same fates (sort of a pun?) as their counterparts in Greek mythology.
Again, this is a misplaced attempt at authenticity. There were more important elements of the myths they could have tried to bring in, but instead, just treat the ladies bad because that happened a whole lot in the stories of old.
Storytelling changes, and it continues to change, even if the pace has been knocked down to a crawl thanks to over-reliance on remakes, reboots, and a slavish devotion to the Hero’s Journey that doesn’t seem to fade with time.
For thousands of years, many types of fiction, whether straight fiction or myths or folk tales or religious texts, have made sure that female characters get blamed for a lot of different things, or that that they are at least subjected to some form of violence, assault, or murder, simply as a storytelling device.
We could talk for a very long time about how stories, no matter the type, affect the way human beings think, and in this way, how we treat female characters in stories and what they’re allowed to do in those stories is actually pretty important, especially now in the modern era when everybody claims to be very concerned about fair and accurate representation in media.
But in Blood of Zeus, they went the other direction with it. Not only are our main female characters forced to suffer because of mistakes men in their lives have made, but they rarely get any kind of characterization outside of cliches and stereotypes.
Hera in particular only becomes a villain because Zeus has cheated on her a million times, so she’s never really allowed to appear as anything other than jealous and petty. She’s also ineffective. At one point, she slashes Zeus’s throat and it’s played like a big Ohhhhhhh moment, but there’s no consequence. Zeus is fine. He’s Zeus. He’s already won, and the same is true of his spawn.
We’ve gotta get going now, but if you’d like to hear more, let us know. You can also check out the video version of this review, which is actually pretty different from this one, at least in its execution.
Thanks for stopping by and go buy a milkshake or something.