The blood of Zeus follows a young man named Heron, whose polis (read: city-state) is haunted by deformed demons imbued with dark power and superhuman strength. However, it doesn’t take long for bigger players to get involved – like the eponymous Zeus and the other deities that make up the Greek pantheon (Ares, Hera, Poseidon, and the like).Despised by his local community for being “an illegitimate bastard,” Heron scratches past as a worker to feed himself and his infatuated mother. All is not as it seems, however, and the revelation of his true ancestry shakes his world forever – and sends him into battle against a sinister demon overlord and some powers that are even greater.
It’s a closely told story with just eight 30-minute episodes that you can play through in a viewing session or two if you want (and so do I.) And this requires elaborate exposure, especially in the first episodes – the establishment of a pantheon of Greek gods, titans, giants, demons, and people at the center of a great and divine conflict.
Because of this, Blood of Zeus probably offers too many of its secrets right away – and the one puzzle that remains unsolved a little longer isn’t too difficult to guess.
There’s certainly a compelling story here – and Blood of Zeus does an impressive job of weaving its various threads, both divine and mundane, into a cohesive whole. Small betrayals reflect far greater ones, and the way the human realm is given greatness when the divine falls apart into little quarrels is one of the best things about the show.
There are plenty of quick action that make up for the lightning-fast speed and seismic strength of the deities in battle – especially how their powers combine and conflict with one another – which is worth watching the series on its own.
It is a truly classic Greek myth that combines the great and epic with the compassionate and desolate, making the movements of the sky and the sea synonymous with the expansion of a flawed and powerful pantheon. If you’re trying out a Greek epic and you don’t want to read The Odyssey, Blood of Zeus is a good Netflix series to watch – whether you’re watching on a smart TV, laptop, or smartphone. (The bright colors and 2D animation style mean that even a low spec screen should do it.)
Of course we have to address the elephant in the room: Castlevania.
Dracula casts a long shadow
With Castlevania season four slated to land in late 2021, anyone who has a prime after a bloody, mythical anime will consider Blood of Zeus something of a stop-gap series of sorts. And for that it should do the job well.
This is by no means Castlevania, despite some similarities in art style (it’s the same studio after all) and even in plotting (wave of demons across the country, etc.).
The complex characterization in Castlevania, the way its characters slowly transform through the result of their own actions, delicately evoking their own doubts and hopes between the violent plot sequences, is not to be found here.
Blood of Zeus’ cast is a bit happier when they get on with the plot and do what it takes to move the story forward in a way that sacrifices a certain personality. I can’t even count the number of times someone says “By the gods!”
The size of the cast and the short length of the series also mean that there isn’t really room for the kind of gradual softening between Trevor Belmont and Alucard or the slow manipulation of Hector by outside forces in the various seasons of Castlevania.
In a tale where gods and mortals coexist, it’s harder to get the stakes the same across the board – and this interplay is what makes Blood of Zeus so exciting, even if a certain delicacy is sacrificed in return.
It’s also worth noting that despite having a very broad pantheon to fall back on, you really have few great (and male) players among the gods. Zeus is joined by his brother Poseidon as well as Ares, Apollo, Hermes and Hephaistus. We don’t hear from Aphrodite, Athena (who, as you know, might be helpful in a war), Artemis, or Demeter. The only goddess ever called is Hera, who has descended to the “despised woman”, while the eternal Philander Zeus is considered a good, loving man.
So there are a few ways that Blood of Zeus fails to criticize or even fully celebrate the mythology he has inherited. The characters selected for this story, however, are capable of holding the breadth of an epic and providing enough stagger to keep you entertained for a few hours.
Blood of Zeus will air on Netflix starting October 27th. If you’re not already a subscriber, check out the sign up link below:
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