Blood of Zeus is Netflix’s newest original anime series. Released in late October, the series combines anime-style animation with themes and characters from Greek mythology.
The show tells the story of Heron, a demigod son of Zeus and a mortal woman. Heron grows up unaware of his godly parentage, believing instead that he is just a bastard son living with his fellow outcast mother in a gloomy secluded polis. Heron discovers who his father is when his mother Electra reveals the truth of her past as the wife of an abusive and cold king.
Although Electra catches the eye of Zeus, their affair is also discovered by Zeus’ jealous wife and queen of the gods, Hera. Electra’s husband learns of the affair as well when she gives birth to twins and one of them is not his. In the ensuing struggle, the king is killed, and Zeus helps Electra escape with their baby, hiding them from Hera in a secluded village.
With the arrival of the Amazonian Alexia, Heron becomes embroiled in a battle between the gods and an army of giant-born demons led by the monstrous and brutal Seraphim. Zeus wishes to help Heron and Electra but is stopped by his wife and the other gods who are acting on the behest of Zeus’ own decree to never intervene with the lives of the mortals. Hera’s intentions involve a personal vendetta against Electra and Zeus, and she eventually begins aiding the demons in return for their help in reawakening the giants and killing Zeus. With the help of Alexia and other captives of Seraphim and Zeus, Heron eventually escapes the demons, trains his fighting skills and takes on Seraphim in an epic showdown between gods and giants.
Overall, I found Blood of Zeus to be a decent action fantasy animation, but it was not entirely innovative when it came to the Greek mythology. I was excited to watch this series since I’ve been a fan of Greek mythology from a young age, but I was a bit disappointed with the approach it took regarding the myths. It made a few changes to the classic legends, but overall, it didn’t attempt anything subversive or new.
The storyline of “demigod son of Zeus is the key to a battle between immortals” is not a new one. Hera may have been given more agency and control in the anime, but she was still ultimately the controlling, jealous wife she always has been. Zeus’ power may have been undermined somewhat, but he was still the “good guy” at the end of the day, despite his rampant infidelity.
I found the series disappointing in the way it portrayed its other female characters as well. Although Alexia was very clearly depicted as a formidable and skilled fighter, her role in the plot gradually lessened as the season continued. Other than Hera, the rest of the goddesses were basically non-existent. Surely in a war against monstrous demons and giants, the goddess of wisdom and war (Athena) or the archer goddess of the hunt (Artemis) would have been helpful, and yet neither made any significant appearances.
Still, Blood of Zeus made a couple of changes to the conventions of Greek mythology. Probably the most modernized aspect was the gods’ abilities, depicted in a manner that more resembles superpowers than the traditional kind of magic expected from ancient legends. In addition, Zeus was given a much more human depiction than usual. It was used to highlight the broken father-son dynamic between him and Heron.
Despite the lack of newness, I still found the show enjoyable overall. My favorite parts of the series were the animation and art style, the voice acting (with the talent of personal favorite Jason O’ Mara as Zeus) and the character designs of the gods. Admittedly, the designs were not very adventurous, but I think the looks chosen were attractive and stayed true to the classics. My favorite designs (also the ones that were a bit more unique in their approach) were those of the Fates, Seraphim and Hades.
If you’re a fan of action fantasy anime and Greek mythology, Blood of Zeus is definitely worth a watch, even if it isn’t as adventurous as one might want it to be.