Take Greek mythology, infuse it with great animation, stellar voice acting, season with some eye-popping visceral action, and you get Blood of Zeus, the latest in a line of fun, action-packed Netflix original anime series.
Blood of Zeus tells the story of a poor young Greek man named Heron, as he learns that he is the son of Zeus (as the series' title suggests) and how he copes with the knowledge of his heritage. The entire first season is handled by Charles Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides, and Shaunt Nigoghossian. The Parlapanides brothers, the creators of the series, also serve as both executive producers and writers for every episode of the season while Nigoghossian handles directorial duties for all eight episodes. All three members of this small creative team working together produced a quality adult animated series. Though, while at times the show can follow the classical hero’s journey too closely, it’s a fun action-packed adventure.
To put it simply the cast is great. Though they may not be all instantly recognizable names, the entire cast of Blood of Zeus is all veteran actors of either screen, voice, or both. One of the few names that fans may recognize is Jason O’Mara.
Fans of the DC animated universe will recognize O’Mara as the voice of Batman since 2014 and O’Mara turns in another great voice performance as the titular Zeus. O’Mara brings Zeus to life with the same level of nuance and complexity that he brings to the role of Batman but, with more charisma and emotional range than the role of Batman often allows. Where O’Mara’s performance shines brightest is in his scenes with Claudia Christian, who voices Zeus’ wife, Hera. Christian, has been lending her vocal talents to various video games, television, and movies since 2001, shines in her role as Hera.
The entire cast turns in strong performances that help bring gods down to earth and allows us to empathize with our downtrodden main character. Not a single actor feels out of place and allows the audience to engage in the world. Also, I think that it was a nice little detail for them to choose culturally appropriate voice actors for the characters. Many of the voice actors playing the Greek characters are of Greek heritage and they got an African voice actor to play the only African character. They didn’t need to do that but they put in the effort anyway so I thought I’d put in the extra effort to mention it.
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Does the story accurately follow Greek mythology? No. Does this hinder the Blood of Zeus? Not in the slightest. The writers of the series taking creative liberties with Greek mythology added a layer of intrigue to the series. This is because nothing about the mythology is changed. Giants are still giants, titans are still titans, and the gods in the Greek pantheon are portrayed the same way they were in the mythical stories from ancient Greece. Though, what the series does is “move around” certain aspects of Greek mythology to tell a good story. But again, if you’re looking for something 100% faithful to Greek mythology, but that makes the show that much more interesting.
It's not the same old Greek myths that have been literally been told for thousands of years but something original. In a world of endless sequels and remakes, any original idea is one that should be at least given a chance. For those familiar with Greek mythology (like myself) it’ll be interesting to watch how the different aspects of the mythology are used and changed in the series. As you watch the Blood of Zeus, you’ll notice that Heron’s story, if nothing else, is your classical hero’s journey. Does that make his story predictable and cliché at times? Yes. Though, Heron really serves as a vehicle for the audience to explore the world and the lore that the Parlapanides brothers have constructed around Heron.
The World Building
I’m not sure if this was the intent of director Shaunt Nigoghossian or the Parlapanides brothers but this is where the meat of Blood of Zeus lies. Whether you're familiar with the original Greek mythology the series is based on or not I can almost 100% guarantee that this is what will keep you watching.
The beautifully animated, stylized flashbacks are going to catch your eye. Not just because of their aesthetic value, but because of what you’ll learn about the world and the characters, as well as their relationships with one another. With every character outside of Heron scheming and plotting against one another, each flashback and story told by the characters will have you asking, "Is this true?" These flashbacks and stories told by each character also allow us to see how characters who are thousands of years old have changed as the world has changed around them. The world of Blood of Zeus is filled with depth and intrigue with more yet to be discovered in future seasons.
What Could Be Better
Of course, Blood of Zeus isn’t perfect. Though, my criticism lies with two specific aspects of the show. The first one being the main character of the series, Heron. It’s not the character himself as much as it is that he doesn’t actually do much but complain throughout the entire show. Yes, he does end the show by making a huge impact on the world, but this doesn’t come through until the final episode. Heron spends most of his time on screen whining about something bad that’s happened to him.
While the characters are very downtrodden, an audience wants to see the hero overcome these challenges, not whine about why no one saved them. The second issue I have is that the Blood of Zeus is almost entirely expository. Outside of the action sequences, most of the dialogue is spent explaining something. This was interesting during my first watch through of the series, but it makes re-watching the series that much more difficult. Information that is revelatory during the initial watch might make things tiresome during a second viewing.
Blood of Zeus is a show I would recommend. It’s fun, the visceral action sequences are great and it’s a new take on mythology that is very familiar. Blood of Zeus serves as an introduction to anime for the uninitiated. For those who are familiar with the genre, the action and the creative liberties taken with the Greek mythology will be entertaining, and that it is completely made for adults. This show deserves a watch and to be appreciated for what it is, an entertaining action-packed ride through Greek mythology.