Right so, deep thematic analysis, resonance between cinematographic technique and unstated meaning…it’s all there in Blood Blockade Battlefront. It’s exceptional, in a way only a Rie Matsumoto show could be. Those qualities…have almost not bearing whatsoever on this episode—because this episode is about one thing and one thing only: having a good time. And if you didn’t enjoy this episode, you might as well get off the giant car-eating monster vehicle now, because this is the reality of Blood Blockade Battlefront. And this is my favorite episode of the season.
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.
Blood Blockade Battlefront is a pretty fun show—not only because it’s wacky and energetic and unpredictable, but because each episode kind of feels like a puzzle to me. I’ll admit, I was pretty stumped on this one (although that’s not really the reason it took me so long to get around to writing this post. This episode, in particular, especially coming out of episode two’s hugely concentrated dose of imagery, felt disconnected and weird and not really quite right to me the first few times through—and then I realized this was an episode of contrasts and it all made sense. Well, as much as it can.
Before I launch into this post, I want to direct readers to something I wrote over on Tumblr last night, an abbreviated essay called “Blood Blockade Battlefront: Style vs Substance(?) and Cinematic Language.” This essay lays out the theoretical framework this post will be operating out of—simply, that visual language is a valid semiotic code  capable of expressing meaning, just as more traditional methods are. So, the point of today’s post is to essentially lay out an example of how this is true, breaking down the way director Rie Matsumoto and her team have constructed a cinematic code that conveys information, themes, and ideas to the audience through the images on the screen.
My most-anticipated show of the season. Blood Blockade Battlefront (Japanese: Kekkai Sensen). It didn’t let me down, bringing great direction, true style, and surprisingly substantial characters to the screen for a first episode that was easily my favorite premiere. Thus far, Rie Matsumoto’s sophomore effort as a full series director has been an incredible effort of visual and cinematographic density that has basically become substance all on its own. They say style can sometimes become substance (which isn’t at all to say that BBB doesn’t have substance of the more traditional kind), and that’s certainly what’s happened here.