The story of Tekken: Bloodline is based on Tekken 3’s story which follows the Mishima Blood Feud. The events of the previous 2 games are mentioned to set up the premise and action of this series, before following the origins and story of Jin Kazama. Jin trains to compete in the Iron Fist Tournament to avenge the death of his mother by defeating an ancient entity known as “Ogre”. Throughout the story, you hear talk of his family’s origins and heritage and how he needs to either fight like a Mishima or a Kazama and honor his ancestry.
The main theme of this anime is asking the question “what are you fighting for?” and this is shown by how the characters end up fighting for something they believe in during the tournament. Jin’s first opponent, Leroy Smith, fights to get revenge against Heihachi. King fights to win the prize money to fund a struggling orphanage. And Jin is so completely consumed by his desire for vengeance, but he grows through the help of the other characters. When Jin fights, he does it without emotion or cares for others, he is showing his Mishima side. But on the other hand, he remembers to be kind and caring towards others and is therefore showing his Kazama side. Jin’s use of the Kazama fighting style is the show’s way of indicating that Jin is different from the Mishimas and is a Kazama first and foremost. Though he doesn’t often use that fighting style. But when it shows up, it shows him going back to his roots, going back to the teachings of his mother, making him learn to be a good person as well as a good fighter. This helps with the completion of his arc throughout the season.
The phrase “What is it that haunts you? Whose eyes peer at you from the dark?” shows off the theme better than any line in the anime could. This makes the story not only engaging but thought-provoking.
References to Its Video Game Origins
There are many references to Tekken: Bloodline’s fighting game origins throughout this anime, especially within its opening.
If you look at the opening, the machines that light up are arcade machines. This references Tekken: Bloodline’s fighting game origins as that is what it was played on for some time. However, this is not the only reference that fans can appreciate.
When the characters are fighting you can see the same visual effects and hear the sound effects that have been used in the games as they hit their opponents. The small effects that show when they do hit the person range from the signature explosions of blood to the white effect from blocked attacks, electricity, explosions and more. These details make it feel like you are watching a Tekken match play out before you. As characters chain together combos you can hear the sound effects build up to the final blow of the combo. The animation supports that as well as the camera pans around the characters it emulates what it looks like when you are playing the Tekken games.
Another thing that shows off its video game origins is that during the King of the Iron Fist tournament, the way they show who wins and who is going up against each other is exactly the way they would show it in video games giving it a nostalgic feel. However, there is more about this beautiful anime, such as the animation.
The animation in this anime is gorgeous if you overlook one singular aspect that I will discuss in a bit. The style is beautiful and gives it charm. You can see the way they incorporated the style into the character designs and therefore picked the perfect style to tell this story. It works perfectly as you can barely tell when they are using 3D animation over 2D as it blends them so smoothly. The use of camera angles is perfect and tells the story in more visual ways. Additionally, the fighting choreography is excellent, every attack has weight and style to it and once again pays tribute to the source material and the characters. However, there is one aspect that can be rather annoying to those who notice it, and there is no way to unsee it.
If you look at the characters you will notice that there is a constant triangular shadow on their head that continues onto their body. It doesn’t fit with the style and just in general looks terrible as it doesn’t move with the characters, it is not dynamic in any way. You will see it in scenes where the shadow should not fall that way and just in general not fit. This is the case throughout all six episodes and in the beginning, it can be rather jarring, it is also somewhat noticeable at the end but somehow you end up getting used to it.
Tekken: Bloodline is worth the watch for any anime or Tekken fan. It tells an engaging story that is also animated well and has stuff for fans of the games. It can keep anyone engaged as the fight scenes are very well choreographed and make you feel the weight of every punch and kick. It has a great sense of theme and carries out an engaging character arc. The only issues are that many fan-favorite characters don’t make an appearance, they get mentioned but don’t have any screen time. This is a story purely focused on Jin and the Mishima Blood Feud, so try not to get your hopes up for your favorite character(s) making an appearance or getting a good amount of screen time. This anime is also only 6 episodes long, making it easy to binge within a single day. As a result, there were a lot of missed opportunities to pad out the series to cater to more character development and screen time, but it is still a fun watch anyway.