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The Violent New Anime Series That Everyone's Binging On Netflix

Life in ancient Greece wasn't all drinking wine and composing poetry while lounging around in breezy robes. There were plagues and thieves and wars aplenty, and depending on how much stock you put in legends, a whole pantheon of vindictive gods just waiting to cast your city into the sea or turn you into a spider. The gods of Greece may have given people many gifts, but they were also notorious for wreaking havoc on our mortal plane.

The new Netflix original anime series Blood of Zeus takes place in a version of ancient Greece wherein the gods are very real. It's a classic sword-and-sandal epic in the style of Clash of the Titans or 300, which takes elements of Greek mythology and adds the unique spin of creators Charley and Vlas Parlapanides into the mix. That, and about a million jugs worth of blood. Blood of Zeus is a brutal and gruesome show that more than delivers on the promise of its title.

Netflix viewers are clearly interested in this graphic take on classic mythology, as the show is currently sitting on the Mount Olympus of Netflix aka the streamer's top 10 most-watched series list. Here's what you need to know about this intense new ancient Greek anime Netflix fans can't get enough of.

What is Blood of Zeus about?

Heron (Derek Phillips) is a peasant who lives on the outskirts of a town with his mother, Electra (Mamie Gummer) in the days of ancient Greece. They are outcasts of their community who barely keep themselves afloat and often care for an old drunkard (Jason O'Mara) who has a love of telling the tales of the gods. One day, a small battalion of warriors led by a woman named Alexia (Jessica Henwick) arrives in their town. They are in pursuit of demons that take the shape of man, who have been terrorizing the countryside in a frenzy of bloodshed.

When one of the demons attacks Heron, Alexia makes a point to show the inhabitants of the town exactly how dangerous the threat they are up against is. Heron realizes that a great war between man and monster is soon to be waged but feels powerless to protect himself and his mother. That is, until he gets instructions for how to craft a mighty sword from the old drunkard. The man, as it turns out, is actually the God of gods, Zeus, disguised to walk among the mortals. Not only that, Heron is his son, and therefore a demi-god in his own right. With this powerful knowledge — and a demon-slaying sword — in hand, Heron sets out to wage war.

For the creators of Blood of Zeus, history is personal

While Blood of Zeus certainly takes many liberties with the classic legends of antiquity, the inspiration behind the series comes from a very traditional place. The Parlapanides brothers grew up in a household shaped by their Greek heritage, and the stories of their ancient culture had a huge influence on their creative lives.

During an interview with Asbury Park Press, Vlas Parlapanides explained, "[W]hen we were younger our mother, our grandmother, told us these Greek mythological stories and we just remember those were the first stories we ever heard and they had a sense of wonderment and awe and excitement, and that stayed with us." In another interview with NJ.com, he extrapolated more on how he thinks the mythologies have influenced not just he and his brother's work, but also our culture in general. He said, "The Greek gods were the first superheroes for us." 

Charley agreed, drawing a parallel also noticed by at least one star of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: "If you really look at what Marvel and DC did, they took the pantheon and they just put costumes on them."

This idea is very present in Blood of Zeus. While it may be more ancient (and significantly bloodier) than most superhero stories of today, it still contains many elements of the genre. Heron's journey makes it easy to see the line of influence from Mount Olympus to Marvel Studios.

Blood of Zeus is one production COVID-19 couldn't stop

It's no surprise that film and TV productions have been deeply affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There have been significant delays for blockbuster movies, and even shows getting canceled outright, because of the difficulties involved in navigating the current climate. While the disruptions caused the creative team behind Blood of Zeus to adapt, ultimately, the show's creators, who also co-wrote the scripts for movies Death Note and Immortals, feel lucky that this was the project they were working on during this difficult time.

Charley Parlapanides explained to Asbury Park Press, "We're primarily feature writers, and the feature business right now is getting killed because COVID [...] Because production hasn't been able to return to a level of normalcy we had before this, the market is drying up and studios are buying less, so we feel doubly blessed that we're working in animation."

Blood of Zeus is produced by Powerhouse Animation Studios (who are also responsible for Netflix's Castlevania series), based out of Austin, Texas. Powerhouse co-founder Brad Graeber gave an interview to The Austin Chronicle where he explained that despite having to make some major changes to workflow (and resolve issues with recording clean audio without having voice actors come into the studio), that the company was adapting to working while locked down, and that, "Our deadlines haven't changed."

Netflix viewers are clearly pleased that the studio was able to get Blood of Zeus out, even in the midst of everything. If you're looking for your own escape, you can catch the bloody good time on Netflix.