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28 October 2020 06:38

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Blood of Zeus: Greek myth meets anime inspiration in Netflix series from NJ brothers

Growing up, Vlas and Charley Parlapanides would hear stories about the Greek gods from their mother and grandmother. Now the Parlapanides brothers, who grew up in Seaside Park, have created a story of their own steeped in Greek mythology. Called "Blood of Zeus," the series, which debuts Tuesday on Netflix, is an epic anime saga that stars the gods, mortals and Heron, a man who discovers he is the son of Zeus. "The Greek gods were the first superheroes for us," Vlas Parlapanides tells NJ Advance Media. Consider some of the most popular film franchises today, says Charley Parlapanides, who came up with the concept for the show.

Charley and Vlas wrote the eight-episode series and serve as executive producers. The show was originally called "Gods & Heroes." Netflix changed the title after pulling data showing Zeus would likely resonate with people in Asian countries. The trailer for "Blood of Zeus" generated north of four million views.Netflix The genre can provide much-needed escapism during a stressful time, they say, pointing to "Castlevania," an anime series based on a medieval-fantasy Dracula video game, which, like "Blood of Zeus," comes from Austin's Powerhouse Animation. Charley says anime is "COVID-proof," unlike blockbuster live-action films such as "The Batman," which had to halt filming when star Robert Pattinson tested positive for COVID-19. Charley and Vlas adapted the popular manga "Death Note" for a Netflix film released in 2017.

Jessica Henwick ("On the Rocks," "Game of Thrones") voices Alexia in "Blood of Zeus."Netflix The brothers' interest in Greek gods could be seen before that, with "Immortals," a film they wrote that opened No. 1 at the box office in 2011 and went on to gross $226 million globally. The movie, directed by Tarsem Singh, is based on classical mythology and stars Henry Cavill, Superman himself, as Theseus, along with Luke Evans as Zeus and John Hurt, Freida Pinto and Mickey Rourke. "Blood of Zeus," which stays true to their story, features Jessica Henwick ("Game of Thrones," "The Matrix 4") as the warrior Alexia and Mamie Gummer ("True Detective") as Electra. Before Marvel and DC came along, Greek gods were the first superheroes, say writers Charley and Vlas Parlapanides.Netflix Blood of Zeus: Greek myth meets anime inspiration in Netflix series from NJ brothers The Parlapanides brothers looked to the past to inspire their new Netflix animated series, "Blood of Zeus." Brothers Charley and Vlas, who grew up in the Ocean County town of Seaside Park, are taking cues from Greek mythology for the anime-inspired series, which debuted on the streaming service today. "Being Greeks and having that immigrant experience definitely shaped the stories that we want to tell," said Vlas Parlapanides.

Created and executive produced by the Parlapanides brothers, "Blood of Zeus" comes to Netflix via Powerhouse Animation Studios, the Texas-based production company behind Netflix's hit adaptation of the "Castlevania" video game franchise. The sword, sandal and sorcery adventure focuses on a young man, shunned by local villagers, who finds himself in the center of an epic conflict between humans, gods and goddesses and monsters as he learns the secrets of his own lineage. "I think who we are as people and having the experience we had growing up, being children of immigrants, being a little bit of an outsider of sorts (is in the story)," said Vlas Parlapanides, recounting that growing up the brothers "always felt we were a little bit different. Following up on their writing work for the 2011 mythological action film "Immortals" and Netflix's 2017 adaptation of the manga and anime franchise "Death Note," the brothers pivoted to animation at just the right time. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on live-action film and television production but animation, as Charley Parlapanides put it, is "COVID-proof." "We're primarily feature writers, and the feature business right now is getting killed because COVID, we didn't get this under wraps like other countries, say like South Korea or New Zealand," Charley Parlapanides said.

Tapping into the rich Greek mythology tradition, "Blood of Zeus" has plenty of storytelling potential, and the brothers tell us they have a tentative five-season arc planned for the story. The possibilities are limitless thanks to the sturdy foundation of a protagonist coming to terms with their identity while battling nigh-impossible odds — a story structure with echoes in Joseph Campbell's monomyth, fellow New Jersey native George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire," George Lucas' "Star Wars" and yes, ancient mythology. "It resonates because people can relate to a character like that," said Vlas Parlapanides. "Blood of Zeus" is now streaming on Netflix, netflix.com/bloodofzeus. All eight episodes of Blood of Zeus are currently available to stream.

Hop on your trusty Pegasus and get ready for an epic journey with Netflix's gorgeous and thrilling new adult animated series, Blood of Zeus. Originally dubbed "Gods & Heroes" back in 2019, this epic Greek mythological tale centers on Heron (voiced by Derek Phillips), a young man whose life is changed forever after his village is attacked by demons. On the surface, Heron's story appears par for the course: a young man discovers he has great powers (probably related to someone important), learns how to use said powers, and saves the day... Series creators and executive producers Charley and Vlas Parlapanides (Immortals, Death Note) do a fantastic job of world-building in the first few episodes with thrilling flashbacks, which offer insightful context for what's happening with Heron in the "present day." One of the most jaw-dropping sequences happens when the village hermit (think Obi-Wan Kenobi) Elias (Jason O'Mara) recounts the tale of the Titans' defeat at the hands of the gods, and how their deaths spawned giants, who in turn spawned the demons that are terrorizing local villages. Without going into too many details, the Parlapanides chew through a surprising amount of story in eight 30-minute episodes.The voice acting in Blood of Zeus is also excellent, with Veterans like O'Mara (Batman: Hush) and Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect) adding a nice bit of gravitas to their respective characters. Thankfully, these nitpicks don't get in the way of what is an otherwise engaging story since the primary characters all get their moments to shine.But please, more Ares, Hades, and Poseidon if Blood of Zeus gets picked up for a second season. But Netflix's latest anime, Blood of Zeus, will change how you look at the Greek pantheon by recognizing the gods are simply characters in an epic soap opera full of infidelity, violence, and giant monsters. Showrunners Charley and Vlas Parlapanides take us back many eons ago to a time of gods, heroes, and giants. The two are no strangers to tales of Greek mythology, having worked on the Henry Cavill-starring Immortals in 2011, and use the classic hero's journey to lure you into a sense of academic familiarity with Blood of Zeus, bringing out many of the major gods and showing off their otherworldly powers. The story follows Heron, a young man ostracized by his community, who one day discovers he's actually the latest bastard son of Zeus, and it is his fate to save the world from an awakened ancient evil that threatens to destroy the world. In many ways, this feels like a retelling of other stories you've heard before, but by framing it as an ancient myth lost to time, Blood of Zeus is able to focus on what really makes this special: its depiction of the gods. While our protagonist is in a classic epic adventure, the show pulls back and dives into an aspect of the Greek pantheon that's essential to the mythology, but hasn't been explored much in pop culture: Zeus's many, many affairs. Netflix anime series Blood of Zeus better have a f—ing kraken in it. Created by brothers Charley and Vlas Parlapanides (writers of Netflix movie Death Note), it's a story about a demigod of destiny, fathered by a man referred to in the series as "the king of kings" — and no, it's not Jesus, but rather Zeus, although THAT would've been interesting, eh? No, we've got eight episodes of titan-clashing Greek mythology spiked with fast-paced action and brutally violent brutal violence that's thematically a little outside the normal adult-anime box. BLOOD OF ZEUS: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT? Then the god Ares shows up to say hi to the old man, who isn't an old man at all — he's Zeus his damn self, and I'm pretty sure he once did the horizontal hi-there with Electra, and Heron was the result. Our Take: Oh, the strings and choirs and brass do heave on the soundtrack of Blood of Zeus: Heron is clearly no clochard, but a game-changing son-of-a-god who will inevitably dispatch many demons from this plane in a gruesomely violent fashion. If Blood of Zeus can keep up this bloody pace, these eight episodes will zing by before we know it. Stream Blood of Zeus on Netflix