“Tekken: Bloodline” Season 1 Review – Enjoyable For New And Long-Time Fans!

Tekken Bloodline season 1 review
Jin goes to meet his grandfather Heihachi Mishima in Episode 1 (Image: Tekken Bloodline Season 1)

Even though I wasn’t interested in an anime show focusing on Jin Kazama’s heritage (he’s not my favorite character), Tekken: Bloodline was still able to offer a very fun story in six episodes. I hope this series returns soon!

Based on the long-running Tekken video game series, Tekken: Bloodline did a satisfactory job of presenting a story that packaged most of the game’s lore in a manner that felt accessible to new viewers as well as enjoyable to passionate fans. From what I could tell, the primary inspiration was the events that transpired in Tekken 3, with Ogre being the big bad and Heihachi Mishima wanting to harness the creature’s supernatural powers.

Of course, Jin Kazama’s our main lead. The series opened with a young Jin living with his mother Jun Kazama. Jun taught Jin how to fight in the Kazama style as well as help him understand the importance of kindness. Throughout the six-episode season, Jin (growing from a kid to a teen) continued to struggle to find a balance between the “good” from his mother’s side and the “bad” from his father’s side.

Yes, Jin’s story did come across as quite tropey (lone wolf hero wanting to avenge a parent’s death while struggling with the darkness inside of him). But then again, that’s to be expected considering that’s literally Jin’s original storyline from the decades-old game. Personally, I didn’t mind it. The writers did a good job of staying true to the source material to please fans. And with how much Jin got to learn about his father Kazuya Mishima and the mysterious Devil Gene, I need Tekken: Bloodline to come back for a second season ASAP! Jin has to face his father! The entire narrative’s been building toward such a confrontation.

I also liked the little creative changes the team made to strengthen the connection between Jin, Hwoarang, and Ling Xiaoyu. From what I could remember, Xiaoyu and Hwoarang never really spoke to each other in the game series even though they both worked to aid Jin at different stages in the story. This anime series making Jin, Hwoarang, and Xiaoyu a trio of friends make a lot of sense to me. The dynamic between the young characters allowed for some comedy to be sprinkled on top of the high-stakes family drama.

Fingers crossed such a change also makes its way, in some form, into the game series, too, whenever the next main Tekken installment gets released. Tekken 7 was released back in 2015. So, it’s been a while.

As for the fight sequences, I think they were handled well. It was so much fun to see the character moves from the game series being adapted into the show’s anime style. From the blocks to the punches and kicks, the animation team did an impressive job of showcasing each character’s individual fighting style and the impact of each hit.

Coming to the gripes (yes, I have some gripes), my biggest complaint would be the limited six-episode run with each episode being approximately 22 minutes long. The story could have easily been elongated to 8 episodes without feeling like a drag.

Also, for an anime based on a fighting video game, I was expecting a lot more fights to be shown instead of having them occur offscreen. Everything felt too rushed. I think allowing the main characters to take a breather while other battles were going on would have allowed for their specific fights to feel more intense.

In my opinion, there were also some missed opportunities for certain character-centric moments. With both Nina and Anna Williams competing in the tournament, I really wanted the iconic rivalry between the two sisters to be showcased. I was also expecting the writers to hint at Steve Fox coming closer to figuring out that Nina was his mother. Not only that but with Ogre defeating Baek Doo San, I was also expecting Hwoarang to have a bone to pick with the monster to avenge his master’s tragic fate. Ogre’s backstory and his connection to Julia Chang could have also been explored.

Again, I just didn’t like the fact that Netflix wanted the first season to have only six episodes and constricted what the writers could portray onscreen in the process. If this show does return for another outing, I have my fingers crossed it gets an expanded episode run. I’m okay with the primary story focusing on Jin’s family, but other characters should be allowed to develop too.

Tekken Bloodline season 1 review
Ling Xiaoyu fights Nina Williams in Episode 4 (Screengrab: Tekken Bloodline Season 1)

Talking about my favorite character from the Tekken franchise, I was on board with how Xiaoyu was treated. The writers took the time to have her share her concerns about not being taken seriously as a competitive fighter because she’s a young girl who still attends high school. The scene in the infirmary where Jin opened up to Xiaoyu about being trained by his mother was well-written. I liked how the series allowed Xiaoyu and Jin to develop their relationship in a mutual manner instead of only having Xiaoyu fall for him.

Freaking Heihachi Mishima also praised Xiaoyu during her fight with Nina, highlighting to Jin how Xiaoyu made up for her smaller stature and lack of power through strategy. If there’s one thing Heihachi’s going to do it is praise strong women. He’s got a type. Ha!

Now, I get that certain fans weren’t happy with how such a young Xiaoyu was able to defeat Nina. But I think it was obvious that Nina’s loss was due to her underestimating Xiaoyu and not because Nina was weaker than her in the present timeline.

Other than that, Xiaoyu was able to hold her own against King even though she lost in the end. And another impressive moment occurred when she found herself basically being the last person standing in front of the monstrous True Ogre after Jin, Paul, and Hwoarang were knocked out. I knew she wasn’t going to win such a fight, but seeing her not back down and keep going until Jin was able to reenter the battle was awesome!

Released on Netflix on August 18, 2022, I highly recommend that you go binge this series ASAP. I’ll definitely be rewatching the fight sequences as soon as I finish writing this review.

Did you watch Tekken: Bloodline season one? What did you think of it?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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