Spoilers for the first half of the show.
Do you like Greek Mythology? Do you think the last few attempts at adapting it, from Immortals to Clash of the Titans were missing something? Well, look no further, as Netflix has you covered with their original animated series, Blood of Zeus. Instead of adapting a preexisting myth, or remaking an old movie, the folks who gave us Death Note and the animation studio behind Castlevania have opted for a more original story.
Working under the assumption that there are lost myths, showrunners Charley and Vlas Parlapanides give us a wholly original story with new characters to root for set within the confines of classical Greek mythology. Enter Heron (voiced by Derek Philips), the peasant boy that none of the villagers like. His mother and he are the black sheep of town, with some even assuming that Heron’s mother is some sort of witch. The story opens up with the arrival of the Demons, a cult-like group with sinister origins who seek to bolster their ranks.
The show presents with a hefty amount of exposition and flashback in the first half, but thankfully, it’s in the service of character, and not story. By episode four, we’ve learned about the motives of all the characters and that even the villains aren’t so one dimensional. The Demon leader Seraphim (Deus Ex’s Elias Toufexis) isn’t just a moustache-twirling bad guy, and we learn to empathize and sympathize with him…even has he slices dudes in half with his magical spear that returns to his hand a la Mjolnir.
Of course, Heron isn’t just some lowly farmer-he’s the son of Zeus (but really, who isn’t?), making him a demigod just like Heracles, Perseus and Theseus (all absent here). Joining him on his quest is the Amazonia Alexia and two smugglers, Evios and Kofi. As the demons, whose origins stem from the fearsome Titans (called giants here), begin to rise and conquer, Heron must accept his heritage and embark on the hero’s journey. But the more interesting stuff comes from Zeus, Hera, and Seraphim. Hera, furious that Zeus fathered yet another bastard with a mortal woman and loved her, has had enough. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, they say, but they’ve never met the goddess Hera. She’s out for blood and her vengeance and anger feel justified, as Zeus has betrayed and humiliated her time and time again.
Seraphim, the demon, is revealed to be Heron’s half-brother and was left to die as an infant. A byproduct of rage, betrayal, loss and abandonment, his path leads him to the Titans, where he feasts on their unnatural flesh, becoming the demon he is today and seeking to destroy Zeus and the gods for what they’ve done to him. Seeing an opportunity, Hera allies herself with the demon and his horde. In the middle of all this is Heron, who despite being the protagonist, sort of feels less important as the show goes on as we begin to explore other characters.
Now, despite being an animated series, just note that this isn’t a child-friendly show. Just like Castlevania before it, this show is gruesomely gory. Zeus blows people up with his lighting, spears rip soldiers in half, and swords cut through flesh like butter. But the scenery and motifs are straight-up classical imagery, none of these “reimagined” versions we’ve seen of late, save for the giants, who while still titanic in size, look wholly original and unlike traditional depictions. But if you want Zeus summoning lightning from his hands from up top Olympus, Ares wielding his hammer, Apollo on his chariot, magic swords, pegasuses, mastiffs, and the River Styx, then fear not, they are all present. And let me say, without spoilers, that the last episode is completely insane. Likewise, the music in the show is epic, full of orchestral choirs and dramatic intensity.
I do hope there’s a season 2, but also hope that we get to learn more about the gods and even our heroes. Because there are so many characters in the show, those minor ones really get sidelined-especially Ares and Poseidon. Likewise, I wonder how long the show can go on giving us these larger than life stories that have somehow been “forgotten” to time. That being said, the show has incredible voice acting, a great story overall and gorgeous animation. I hope season 2 can give us more time to get to know the characters and set up even grander stakes without feeling repetitive come the finale.