Blood of Zeus Review (Spoiler-Free)

Netflix’s new animated series is a stunning mix of Greek mythology and horror that provides a unique and exciting take on familiar stories.

Blood of Zeus Netflix
Photo: Netflix

This Blood of Zeus review contains no spoilers and is based on all eight episodes.

Many properties across all media look to Greek mythology for story inspiration. It’s territory that’s been explored from nearly every angle at this point. What makes Blood of Zeus feel exciting rather than regressive is that it presupposes that its story is a lost chapter of Greek mythology. It tells the saga of Heron, a warrior who learns that he’s a rejected offspring of Zeus and must become ready to confront his past in an effort to change everyone else’s future. Heron’s original story allows the series to feature many notable Gods and figures, but it’s not restrained to any set narrative or endpoint. Blood of Zeus has a lot of fun with Heron’s ability to fight against the titans of Greek mythology and the show can re-contextualize what the audience thinks they know about these characters and events. 

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Created by Charles and Vlas Parlapanides, Blood of Zeus mixes these classical narratives with the horror genre and incorporates demons and even more monsters than one would expect in a show about Greek mythology. There are even elements of cosmic horror and the presence of Eldritch God-like entities that act as oppositions to the Gods. This is Blood of Zeus’s way to be unique and do something different with this kind of universe. There’s a very clear love of Greek mythology that’s present in the series so these heightened horror elements feel like attempts to push the material to a new level as opposed to not having faith or respect for it.

Heron is a crucial figure that ties everything together in Blood of Zeus, but Alexia and Hera are a warrior and Goddess who also play vital roles through this story. They initially begin on their own journeys, but their paths slowly verge together in a way that doesn’t feel dissimilar to what’s present in Powerhouse Animation’s other Netflix animated series, Castlevania. Comparisons may be drawn in terms of the brutal action sequences and mature storytelling that’s present in both series, but Blood of Zeus forges its own path and even feels like an evolution of what’s been done with Castlevania

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Heron’s legend grows bigger with each episode, but he’s driven by the loss of his mother and his secret connection to some unlikely figures, both for better and for worse. This familial pain and desire for revenge evolves into a growing battle between humans, Gods, and demons. Blood of Zeus creates villains that are genuinely frightening and sadistic in nature. These characters do not bluff and they’re a refreshing change of pace from other enemies who are all talk. At the same time, the series treats them with an equal level of nuance and depth as Heron or Alexia. It makes sure that these monsters are still strangely empathetic on some level. This first season juggles a few larger threats between Heron, Alexia, and the Gods who oppose Zeus’ ways. It’s a successful strategy and it gives the end of the season more power when these threads come together.

It’s also interesting to see Heron struggle with typical daddy issues, but in this case his father is an all-powerful god. It gives a little more punch to this refusal of nature than what’s typically seen. Derek Phillips feels like a really natural fit for Heron and he brings a great quality to the performance. The entire cast does strong work here and treats their roles with the utmost respect. They really elevate these archetypes into three-dimensional figures.

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Heron begins on a number of quests and challenges that help him acquire important weapons and build the skills that he needs to turn into the hero that he’s destined to become. Blood of Zeus features big set pieces in each episode and keeps the action moving along, but it’s impressive to see how it takes its time with some of the larger storytelling that surrounds Heron. Every installment contains immediate payoffs and also moments that enrich the larger battle that’s at hand.

The character designs, especially for Heron, are statuesque figures and the kind of body type that’d be depicted on vases or mosaics on walls. It’s a style that works for the show and helps Blood of Zeus stand out slightly from other series. The animation in general is really stunning stuff. The series brings vast and busy landscapes to life and does some impressive stuff when it comes to light. Certain scenes are bathed in purple, green, or blue, and it gives the supernatural elements of the series even more personality and style. Even the calm moments of reflection look amazing thanks to details like sunsets and sprawling flora and fauna. There’s a sequence that involves a character’s soul crossing the River Styx that’s evocative and unnerving, but also speaks to the series’ unique take on old ideas.

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It’s also just a delight to watch these ambitious battle sequences play out. These action set pieces are detailed and excessive, but there are so many other opportunities where Blood of Zeus leans into the mythical deity angle and gets more experimental with its animation and the way that it tells its story. Storyboards for the biggest moments from each episode play over the episode’s end credits and it’s a fascinating glimpse into the process that’s more exciting than a tease for the next episode.

Blood of Zeus quickly proves that it cares about the theatrics and creativity of its action sequences just as much as it does its characters. The series delivers heavily on the action and features exaggerated exchanges that help establish its tone and pace. It’s a show where decapitations aren’t enough so instead characters’ heads get sliced in half. There’s a whole ceremony for drawing a demon out of someone that’s particularly inventive and brutal. To the credit of Blood of Zeus, there are many fight scenes, but all of them bring something different to the battle and feel unique and not just a rehash of past dangers.

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Every episode seriously contains multiple moments where you’ll want to cheer over the deeply awesome acts that these characters perform. The fight scenes don’t just look gorgeous and feature hefty body counts, but the series’ ability to apply an action blockbuster sensibility to the climaxes of all of these battle sequences helps instantly give Blood of Zeus a firm voice. There’s a flashback to the legendary battle between Gods and Giants that’s a masterpiece and a strong distillation of everything that this series does right. There’s rampant creativity on display with the designs of the monsters and the powers of the Gods. The score is also perfect and huge in a way that amplifies this chaos. This show generates the kind of energy and excitement that a God of War, Assassin’s Creed, or even a Devil May Cry animated series would be lucky to achieve.

Blood of Zeus looks incredible, but the series also has an epic score that really highlights the grandiose nature of the battles and journeys in this series. There’s a staggering use of choral chants and a full orchestra that are reminiscent of this majestic time from the past. The score also knows how to compliment the more muted moments of the series in a way that still creates an operatic feeling around everything. It’s seriously powerful stuff that really increases the standards of what should be expected of the music in an animated series.  

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Netflix has cultivated a strong line-up of adult animation and Blood of Zeus may be the best yet. It tells an addicting story that brings together action, fantasy, and horror to create something that feels original and represents the direction that animated series should be heading. Every thirty seconds there’s something different to be impressed over and even though the series’ aesthetics and visuals are the most exciting things about it, it still doesn’t neglect characters or storytelling. Hopefully the Gods will smile down upon Blood of Zeus and allow this series more episodes to stretch its wings and push its limits.

Rating:

4.5 out of 5