Unlike episode three, which I found to be quite the tough nut to crack, episode four was a little easier to figure out in terms of its visual code. It’s no less intricate or well-constructed; just a little easier to access. At this point in these write-ups, I suppose I should note that I’ve basically thrown all doubts about “over-analyzing” into the wind. I’ll talk about this somewhere in this post, but the attention to detail in Blood Blockade Battlefront, even when it’s not using super fluid animation, is astounding and has entirely convinced me that I can interpret away with enthusiasm knowing that there are people behind this show (Rie Matsumoto, most prominently) who really care about what they’re doing and are offering up a work of art worthy of our attention and analysis.
Episode 4: “Blood Versus Blood, Red Versus Red” 
I suppose it was really only a matter of time before this happened: a red episode. After all, it is Blood Blockade Battlefront. What’s super compelling about it, though, is that Matsumoto saved the red overload for the perfect moment—the first Libra contact we see with the Blood Breed, vampires who are themselves manipulators of blood. In a very real sense, this is blood versus blood and so, of course, in visual terms that becomes an absolutely fascinating explosion of red.
Although there’s a lot of cool mise-en-scene stuff going on in first part of the episode (through Lucky Abrams’ arrival at the Libra headquarters), the focus on the color red doesn’t emerge until later in the episode as the real story of the episode emerges. More than anything, this is Blood Blockade Battlefront‘s vampire episode, which means there’s going to be blood everywhere. With a color-centric episode like this, the visual language ends up being much less about what the camera is doing a much more about what’s happening on-screen when you see the color red showing up. While re-watching the episode for this post (I ended up with 96 screenshots in all), it became pretty obvious to me that there were fewer of Matsumoto’s trademark “cool” shots. That means that, for a lot of the early parts of the episode (which are more comedy-focused), we’re only seeing red used as a background color, rather than an focal point of the visual composition. For example:
Although there’s a lot of red in both of these pictures, it serves as a contextualizing element rather than a prominent visual cue. By allowing the members of Libra to go about their work background by red, the episode gives us little reminders that these are fighters who use their blood without making it a big deal.
But Libra isn’t the only group out there with red as their signal color. Our first introduction to the vampires at the beginning of the episode is through a quick flair of red during Leo’s subway ride and the subsequent re-introduction of the two particular Blood Breeds who serve as the concrete representation of the abstract threat Leo views in the alterworld also marks their entrance by using red to both visually establish the vampire’s relationship with blood and to demonstrate the similarities they share with Libra. Blood (and, by extension, red) is a symbol of power this episode vis-à-vis what we’ve seen of Libra’s efforts in the past episode and the way the red of the vampires in the alterworld pit overwhelmed Leo’s eyes.
In the first three images above, the vampire Klaus ultimately seals is introduced with a stylized hand motion that crosses her eyes, drawing attention to them, and sucks in a stream of blood that stands out in sharp contrast to the dark surroundings of the subway tunnel. In the final image, as she preaches to the defeated Steven and K.K. about her superior power, we see a bright red light of unknown source glowing behind her. Red and blood equal power and so the vampire’s association with the color marks her as powerful, more powerful even than the fighters of Libra, whose own ties to the color red are marginal in comparison.
During the build up to their duel with the vampiress and the actual fight, Steven and K.K. actually are given a few shot with red in them, but the majority of their fighting is dominated by the yellows and oranges of K.K. electric attacks and the blues of Steven’s ice. The four images below depict the few shots the two Libra members get with red in them. Compared to the vampiress’ introduction with red, Steven and K.K.’s red light in the first image (potentially from Chain’s camera) is weak, but it’s in the final three images where the power difference is really demonstrated. The two impact frames from the vampire’s attack throw the red of Steven and K.K.’s blood across the eerie silhouetted close-ups in a reversal of the prior equation where red=power. In this case, the vampire has coopted their red and made it a symbol of their weakness, a interpretation further strengthened by the fourth shot’s foregrounding of the blood stream. Although this line of red is placed on Steven and K.K.’s side of the screen, we’ve already seen them defeated and so it becomes yet again a symbol of their weakness. (If this is unclear, this comment chain is a bit more colloquial in its explanation.)
To recap to this point, red is established early on as the visual cue for power and after the vampiress is marked as powerful by her association with the color, she appropriates Steven and K.K.’s red by using it to assert power over them. This, then, is the set up for the climactic sequence in which Klaus appears and defeats both of the vampires. Here’s the sakugabooru link if you want to see it in motion, but seeing the sequence frame-by-frame is a pretty amazing thing, so I’ll be using screenshots along the way. If you’ve watched the sequence through that link or remember the episode, you’ll know that Klaus’ short-lived battle with the two vampires is absolute dominated by the color red. Referencing the visual code already established by the episode, this is a demonstration of superior power via color.
I talked last week about how Klaus’ personal symbol is the cross, an image that makes an appearance in several frames of this week’s fight. 
As is evident, there is no other point in this episode where red is as dominant a color on screen than in the burst of action that is Klaus’ assault on the vampires. It’s kind of hard to tell what’s going on in motion because of how quickly everything moves, but frame-by-frame the sequence of events becomes much more clear. Klaus literally crushes the first vampire in the first two images; the third uses lines, the angle of the vampiress’ head, and lighting to create the impression that she’s being pushed back (that is, out of control of the red); and the final three reveal that she actually did try to counter Klaus’ attack but (obviously) failed. Yes, Klaus comes by surprise, by the pervasive use of red in this sequence signifies that he is the one with the most power.
And that’s pretty much where things end in terms of my analysis, although I want to make one final note of the moment that gave me my access point into this interpretation using the color red. Maybe I should have started with this, but it’s too late now. Anyways, when Leo gazes into the pit, leading to his eyes cracking and bleeding, Vivid’s translation of the moment really helps highlight the relationship between red, blood, and power.
Leo’s description of the chasm as “drenched in red” highlights the importance of the color itself and the image of his blood (and a slight red filter) in the top shot helps establish the connections between red, blood, and power in a nebulous way that sets up the framework in which the rest of the episode’s use of the color can function and take more concrete form.
 If it hadn’t been for the prominent use of red this episode, I might have talked about the way the cinematography this episode reversed a lot of techniques used previously to show Leo’s power of sight. Beyond obvious stuff like the PoV shots of Leo at the beginning of the episode and the shot from inside of his cracking eyes, the use of the wide-angle shot on Leo as he gazes at the hand and long shots through foregrounded scenery create the feeling that Leo is the one truly being watched this episode, as he comes into contact with beings whose power outstrips his own.
[–] As promised, a note on attention to detail. Each of those four images has a really neat small detail in it—details that didn’t necessarily need to be in the shot, but are. And it’s awesome.