Trinity Blood (2005)

Trinity Blood is one of the novel-manga-anime “worlds” I got caught up in last month. “Angst” is Trinity Blood’s middle name because boy! is this an angst ridden bunch!

Trinity Blood is set in a post-apocalyptic (of course) world. There was a great war between humans and vampires 900 years ago and now the humans, represented by the Vatican, and the vampires, the Empire, engage in what could be called a cold war. The Vatican and the Empire are on the verge of developing a peace agreement between the two worlds but there are factions, both human and vampire, that are willing to do anything to derail the peace process. In order to ensure that the fragile balance of power between the Vatican and the Empire remains intact, the Vatican created a special ops group called AX (short for Arcanum Cella Ex Dono Dei). The agents of AX are an elite group of priests and nuns, of course, all combat trained and most having enhanced abilities of various kinds. They are a group not to be messed with.

Abel Nightroad, our “main” character, is a Crusnik. That is, he’s a vampire that drinks the blood of other vampires. On the surface, he is mild-mannered and clumsy Father Abel but when push comes to shove, he can sort of power up and take on his crusnik form. When he’s at 80% power, he has these massive black wings and a scythe. The anime doesn’t go into this, but evidently Abel, Cain, Lilith and Seth are a family of crusniks, actually created by humans thousands of years ago. At some point the family got wrapped up in the war between the Vatican and the Empire. Lilith, the elegant oldest sister, sides with the Vatican but Abel, Cain and Seth side with the Empire. At some point Cain goes insane and kills Lilith, a loss so painful for Abel that he stays in her tomb for 900 years mourning. Hijinx ensue and Abel eventually decides to join AX in order to carry on Lilith’s work. Abel is also continually trying to atone for his sins because evidently he killed 7 million humans during the big war. How one would come up with a count like that, I have no idea. In any case, with the stage now set and Father Abel drive by guilt and shame, the anime plays out as AX tries to protect the peace process and fight against a vampire terrorist organization called The Rosenkreuz Orden.

The plot is pretty thin. But I gotta say, the series is pretty delightful because of the priests and nuns in AX. The members of the Inquisition are pretty sharp too. But it’s those AX agents! Wow! Who knew priests and nuns were so tough?! My favorite has to be Father Tres. He’s a cyborg, code name “Gunslinger,” and his job is pretty much to shoot things. Which he does. A lot. He has no affect at all and usually only says things like “Positive” or “Negative” or “Mission complete. Returning to base.” Father Tres is pretty much unstoppable but I’m dying to know if they ordained him (ha!). Father Tres isn’t in nearly enough episodes in my opinion.

Father Tres shoots something.

My other favorite AX member is Father Leon. He’s actually in jail for some reason but AX gets him out every now and again for big missions. And they’ll knock off like 20 years from his sentence per pop. We know he’s the the loose canon of the group because he doesn’t wear a shirt under his priest jacket. He’s crazy that way.

Abel Nightroad is pretty annoying when he’s being Father Abel. He’s always whining and crying and acting like a fool. He always asks for tea with 13 lumps of sugar for some reason. But when he’s in crusnik mode, step back! My favorite part in any given episode is when Abel gives whatever vampire he’s fighting a “final warning.” The vampire will refuse, of course, so then Abel pushes his glasses up on his nose. That’s when you know things are going to get crazy.

Father Abel in “normal” and crusnik mode. Although he’s only 40% here so no crazy wings yet.

Abel doesn’t seem to particularly like being in crusnik mode. Sister Esther happens to see him take down a bad guy in crusnik mode and he starts wailing about how it’s a mark of his shame and so forth. But clearly, he’s the Vatican’s secret weapon and they would be toast without him because his brother Cain is the head of the Rosenkreuz Orden. Cain has no compunction about slaughtering humans or vampires and so it’s pretty clear the minute Cain first shows up that the series is heading toward a crazy confrontation between Cain and Abel. And the series doesn’t disappoint. In crusnik mode, Cain is this beautiful angel of light and Abel is his opposite. Abel looks quite demonic, actually. In any case, I won’t tell you who wins the big confrontation but I’m sure you can probably figure it out. It actually might not be who you think because there are competing narrative logics at work here. On the one hand, the logic of quest stories dictates that the good guy wins. But on the other hand, religious history dictates that Cain wins. But even beyond that, the logic of the religious allusions that the series plays with suggests that Abel must win but still die, thus saving the world and atoning for his sins. Like I said, I leave it to you.