“Life, which is hard enough as it is, is even harder here. Even more so for a small timer like me, whose only redeeming feature is that I’m normal.”
– Leonardo Watch, Blood Blockade Battlefront, episode 1
Both viewers of anime and in-universe characters alike often yearn to be exceptional. The traditional special teen narrative focuses on plucking protagonists from their humdrum lives and plopping them elsewhere, bestowing upon them universe-breaking powers. Blood Blockade Battlefront‘s Leonardo Watch is no exception, only he never wished for the all-seeing eyes of god. They were given to him unwillingly, as his sister Michella was able to act more quickly in a high pressure situation, offering her eyes as part of a sacrifice.
As a result, his ordinary looks become his greatest asset, hiding his one of a kind power.
While we, as an audience, can easily identify with being normal, possessing the eyes of god is something completely unrelatable. It becomes the task of Blood Blockade Battlefront to convince us just how powerful Leonardo’s eyes are through visual representation.
This begins with an overall focus on characters’ eyes, or lack thereof. Leonardo now stands out from others, even with his ordinary character design, as his eyes are nearly always shut or covered by tinted goggles. The only times that they are not shut, are when he is actively using his power, or is forced to open his eyes by others.
Activating the eyes of god is accompanied by an auditory cue and the presentation of the scene through our eyes – what a normal person would see – and a haze, before the true image that Leonardo sees is revealed.
Pictured above is an instance where Leonardo accidentally sees through the facade of an underground human trafficking scheme. This is contrasted with Leonardo seeing the character of White for the first time. While the opening of his eyes is noticeably not accompanied by the sound indicating the activation of his powers, the eyes of god are visible but White appears as a normal girl.
This continued focus on eyes, specifically within the context of what the average person sees in comparison to what Leonardo sees sets the scene for Blood Blockade Battlefront‘s fourth episode, where vampires are thrown into the eclectic mix of in-universe creatures.
Bringing things full circle to Leonardo’s existence, his survival relies on the fact that he appears unassuming. Like the facades that he can see through with his god eyes, his outward appearance hides the truth of what is present. Similarly, the vampires of Blood Blockade Battlefront have full control over how visible they are to others, and what form they take. Most of the time, they cannot be seen at all, although when they allow it, they appear as normal humans.
Red eyes denote the Blood Blockade Battlefront vampire; however, this is solely for our benefit. We, unlike Leonardo, do not possess the eyes of god, and therefore require visual aid from the series itself.
Through the character of a mysterious blond boy, we learn that vampires don’t always have to have red eyes, and can seemingly choose to display them at their, or our, convenience. Pictured above speaking to Leonardo on the train, the boy has aquamarine eyes. Later, when speaking to White, he reveals that his eyes are red.
Most notably, this boy has been present since Blood Blockade Battlefront‘s first episode, and was shown observing Leonardo at his favorite diner.
Like Leonardo, the boy’s eyes remain hidden until it’s necessary to reveal them to the audience, often shrouded by his glasses. In addition to the visual cue of red eyes, he cements his identity by telling Leonardo that he knows his name, presumably from the piece of paper that Leonardo was able to read earlier in the series’ fourth episode.
It is this list of names Leonardo can see with his god eyes that precipitates Klaus Von Reinhertz’s ability to seal one of the vampires away. While Leonardo relies on his ordinary outward appearance for self preservation, the vampires in his story rely on their lack of identity. All of this is reiterated beautifully within the visual direction of the series.