[Review] SENGOKU NIGHT BLOOD – episode 1

One day, Yuzuki is enveloped by a mysterious light suddenly emanating from her cell phone and finds herself in an unfamiliar place. The scenery spread out before her almost resembles Sengoku period Japan—but this is another world known as “Shinga” where non-human creatures such as vampires and werewolves reside.

Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who leads the Toyotomi Army, takes in Yuzuki after rescuing her on the battlefield and accidentally discover that her blood awakens the latent powers of the Gegga Tribes. Upon learning of the power of Yuzuki’s blood, the other warlords—Oda, Uesugi, Takeda, Sanada and Date—begin pursuing Yuzuki, each for their own purposes.

Source: Crunchyroll

Adaptations are hard, folks. Adapting a video game is particularly difficult. And a visual novel? Maybe the toughest of them all. Lots of characters, multiple routes, a protagonist specifically designed to have minimal personality so the player can map themselves into the role… none of that transfers well to the more passive, streamlined medium of television. It’s tough. I get it.

So have sympathy for those tasked with VN adaptations, dear readers. And if ever you find yourself in a position to write the premiere for such an adaptation, think back to the first half of Sengoku Night Blood—and do exactly the opposite of what they did.

A man in historical fantasy warrior garb stands next to a brunette woman in a modern pink blouse. Subtitle: "I'll introduce you to everyone."
Please don’t.

This anime is an adaptation of an otome (targeted at young women) VN smartphone game, and I’m honestly not sure its first 15 minutes could have been more poorly handled. Our “ordinary girl” protagonist Yuzuki gets immediately transported to a fantasy world without giving us any sense of who she is or what her life was like before she had her weirdest day ever. (I mean, I’m assuming. I know literally nothing about her. Maybe she’s had weirder!)

She’ll spend a few seconds staring blankly at people, but the camera’s focus is on her new companions: Hideyoshi Toyotomi and his pretty-boy posse, all wearing Grade-A ridiculous anime outfits. They smile and welcome her into their party, but don’t get comfy! because we’re immediately whisked away to other home bases to meet an absolute battalion of bishies, some of whom are sporting wolf ears, because why the heck not.

It was at this point that I gave up on even registering who was who, never mind trying to write them down. I recognized Midorikawa Hikaru‘s voice at one point and it made me smile. Then my eyes glazed over. All you really need to know is that they’re all fighting each other and they’re all named after historical figures from Japan’s Warring States Period (hence the Sengoku in the title). Bonus points to any readers who recognized a name other than Oda Nobunaga.

A man in glasses with long gray braided hair wearing a fancy ruffled shirt and coat stands next to a redheaded man wearing a white coat with green trim, open, with his pecs and abs on display.
I like that the redhead is wearing an eyepatch but for his boob.

In Night Blood‘s defense, the second half of the episode is more entertaining, albeit more troubling. Also: kinda dumb! First, a cute tanuki-like critter named Imari shows up to toss a bunch of exposition at Yuzuki, explaining how the different magical beasties used to live in harmony until the fire natio—nope, sorry, force of habit—until the Himemiko (literally “princess priestess”) disappeared, throwing the land into chaos. Imari needs Yuzuki’s “power” in order to find the Himemiko and restore peace to the land. Yuzuki just wants to go home, but if helping Imari will make that happen, then she’s game.

(By the way, amidst all this, Imari specifically mentions that vampires and werewolves exist in this universe. “Oh no,” I said.)

Next, Yuzuki is off to join Hideyoshi and his Merry Men on the battlefield because, quote, “having a girl around might brighten things up a bit.” Glad to see these warriors have their priorities in order. Predictably, Yuzuki winds up fleeing into the woods with Hideyoshi, where he offers her one of his swords and she shows flickers of a spunky personality by accepting it and saying she’ll do her best to fight. A spark of hope shines behind my glassy eyes.

A closeup of a brunette girl holding a sheathed sword. Subtitle: "but I'll do whatever I can."
Don’t tease me like this, show.

My excitement quickly fades—Yuzuki doesn’t actually get to fight, of course, because if she could defend herself then who would get to sexily rescue her from danger? This whole scene seems to exist so you can earn some Love Points with Hideyoshi, who dispatches your enemies handily and then walks you back to your campsite.

But wait, not so fast! It’s ain’t all mutual admiration and romantic strolls tonight. Because Yuzuki’s neck is bleeding. And remember how they oh-so-casually dropped that comment about vampires earlier in the episode?

Close up of a man with long bangs and fangs leaning in to a neck that has a slight streak of blood on it. Subtitle: "Somehow, it makes me feel like I can't go on without drinking it."
[sighs until is deflated]
Yes, not content to simply be a silly historical (pfft) fantasy, Sengoku Night Blood has to end with a creepy “just the tip”-style blood-licking scene that’s as heavily coded in sexual predator and assault metaphors as vampire stories were in the beginning, are now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen. Oh, and her blood has magical healing properties, so you can just imagine how all her interactions with these lusty fightin’ fangboys are gonna go from here!

To tell the truth, I was kinda warming up to this ridiculous convoluted fantasy’verse. I have a soft spot for female-targeted isekai and a fatal weakness for tanuki, plus Yuzuki trying to take an active role in both helping Imari and defending herself seemed like promising signs for her character arc. But Sengoku Night Blood isn’t quite stupid enough to be entertainingly bad, and the thought of a bunch of vampires and werewolves squabbling over the protagonist like she’s a magical smoothie puts me right off.

There are better lady-led isekai, and there are better silly supernatural romances. Reckon I’ll just go rewatch those, and leave this one to be forgotten amidst the premiere deluge.

 

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  • Ashen

    Glad to get your review on this series, as I was curious. Also, could anyone recommend some of those “better lady-led isekai” anime?