In Blood of Zeus, the new Netflix Anime series from Charley and Vlas Parlapanides, Heron, a commoner living in ancient Greece, discovers his true heritage as a son of Zeus. His true purpose? To save the world from a demonic army. That’s about as classic a hero’s journey as you’ll find. But the action-packed battles of Powerhouse Animation’s signature style get a contemporary tweak thanks to the Parlapanides Brothers’ reimagining of well-known stories from Greek mythology.
I had a chance to talk to the Blood of Zeus co-creators about their “Lost Tales” and the heroic story of Heron. Our wide-ranging conversation covered the initial pitch to Netflix, the changes that came about during development, and the moment that Powerhouse came on board. The Parlapanides Brothers also talk about the epic stories they had to leave behind on the cutting room floor and their hopes to revisit more of them in Season 2. If you’re a fan of Greek mythology, a classic hero’s journey, or just epic anime action, you’re going to want to watch Blood of Zeus (again and again) on Netflix now!
You can listen to the full interview with the Parlapanides Brothers above, or read along below for some highlights, including what didn’t quite make it into Season 1, what we might be treated to in a possible Season 2, and how to make another season of Blood of Zeus a reality:
I was super interested in finding more about Alexia. Are we going to get another demigod backstory? Are we going to get an exploration of the Amazon culture? Did you guys ever consider bringing more of that into the mix?
Vlas Parlapanides: We had her backstory in the show, and it got cut. Last minute, we ran out of real estate, it killed us, it killed us right up until the very end. And one of the biggest challenges is that these scripts are 22 pages, 20 pages, you only have so much real estate. And so you have Seraphim, you have heron, and you have Zeus, and we just ran out of real estate, that one kills us. If, God willing, we’re afforded at the second season, we’re definitely going to bring that back story in and we’re going to talk further. But there was, you know, there was some of that in Season 1 that just got cut out at the end, and I wish it that didn’t happen. And I wish we could have given her her due and given her that moment, and to not just for her, but even the other, you know, secondary God characters, it’s just that we ran out of real estate, you know that as a writer. When you have an ensemble, it’s hard to service everyone, and the easiest thing to do is just to lose a couple characters, because then you can hone in on the ones that are left, but we totally hear you on that. And we do have her backstory and and we just hope and pray that we’re afforded a second season so we can explore that further.
Charley Parlapanides: And, you know, they, to be honest, the 100% complete truth, that stuff what was written and some of it even boarded […] There’s three or four scenes that we dropped for her that we just would have loved to have kept. But hopefully, you know, we’ll get a second season and then hopefully, we’ll be able to show who she is and why she is and why she has two swords.
Were there any other deities or mythological tales? What were some of the what were the toughest cuts for you guys to have to make in those those edits? What was something you really wanted to see, but just didn’t quite make it?
Charley Parlapnides: We had another scene. We had, we had like a three-scene arc with Dionysus, who is like a really cool character. We had a cool thing with Artemis that, you know, but it’s just, you know, pages and shots are money. And so you just have to make choices at some point. You know, we had asked for 10 episodes […] Netflix gave us a very generous and healthy budget […] So but just we were maybe over-ambitious, I think, Vlas and I in the scope of the story we wanted to tell.
[…] There is a sequence with Alexia, in the second episode, where we called Netflix, saying, “I will put my own money to get the scene in there, please.” But just in terms of like, you know, to get that animated with our post schedule, it just wouldn’t have worked. But as we were begging, like, please, we want to keep this for Alexia this. And but you know, and you just have to make choices. And you know, they were incredibly supportive. But there are things that we lost with other gods and another scene with the Fates that would have been fun, we think.
Vlas Parlapanides: The scene that he talking about, it was a it was an it was an action scene, but it showed how smart he was, it showed how brave she was, it showed how much she cared for her men. It did like three things. And it kept her in the way we introduced her, as a badass and it kind of kept that thread going. That one we lost, and that one hurt. And then there was a one where we revealed her backstory, because again, alright, she can do all these cool things, you know, from an action standpoint, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the character and delving into who they are and what motivates them. And we had that scene, and that scene also was interesting because it gave us insight into the character, and also the characters that were with her, for Heron, he gained insight into her. And her backstory actually was something that he could relate to. So it worked on that level, too.
We get a big reveal of a major God who’s been missing the whole time, in Hades. So can you talk about building to that reveal, coming up with this particular character design, finding the right voice, and then ,maybe is that a tease towards more stories to come?
Charley Parlapanides: We could talk for hours about where we hope to take this story and what we hope to do, and Hades is definitely a big part of it. The great Fred Tatasciore, who is so talented. And one of the great joys in making this show is just watching … he voices a bunch of demons, voices like four or five characters in the show. He’s the voice of Hades. And you know, he is so good. And, again, for us, just to be clear, because people have mentioned this, and I know, you know, Netflix is only committed to this one season, we hope that they order another one. But to be clear, like we don’t see Hades as a villain. If you know Greek mythology, he was actually one of the more kind of level-headed ones. And that moment at the end is meant to be more kind of like a Sysiphus or Prometheus type ending, where, you know, the eternal kind of punishment that you might have to face the thing that you despise the most is the thing that you have to repeat over and over again. But there are clues in the first season, in shots, and in moments that allude to more in the underworld and more with Hades, and that, you know, we have so many directions and things and stories we want to tell, that will involve him. And so if, if we’re lucky enough to get another season, Hades would definitely be a player in it, but not, I think the way people expect, or maybe not the Disney version, where he’s the bad guy, because he’s from the underworld, and not that there’s anything wrong with Disney. But, you know, I’m just talking about the old Hercules animated movie where he’s the villain, if he won’t be characterized like that.
What’s up next, for the both of you? What else is keeping me busy these days?
Vlas Parlapanides: We’re working on an MGM pilot. So we’re busy with that. And we have a couple other different projects, we have a couple features at different different stages of solicitation, where we have some producers attached. […] And, you know, to be honest, we’re hoping and praying that that we do get that that Season 2, because as Charley mentioned, we have so many characters that we want to explore, so many stories that we want to tell, we love playing in the sandbox. And we’re nerds, we’re always thinking about wouldn’t it be cool to do this and that. And we found another nerd in Shaunt, and now there’s three of us and I was always kind of batting ideas back and forth.
Charley Parlapanides: We have three future projects in varying degrees of development. But you know, all that’s kind of on pause right now, to be perfectly honest. And we’re just very grateful. This pilot that we’re writing for MGM, which is really cool mythology about fallen angels, that we’re really excited about, but that’s present day. And then we have to, you know, one more step on that that we have to do, but that’s really come together well. And, and then also, we have this idea for Medusa story that we just think is gold. And, you know, when we finish this other script, we’re going to start writing it. You know, there’s some ideas we believe you pitch, and some ideas we think you should just write; this one, you know, we’ve been doing this profession for 15 years, I think it’s one of the best ideas we’ve ever had. And, and we just want to write it because when you write it, then you can just tell the version you wanted to tell. At least initially, you know, it’s always a collaborative process, and there’s notes, but if you pitch it, then you have to know everyone that has to kind of be geared towards a target. Whereas if you just write it, it can just be what you hoped it to be, you know, and, and really think it can be special. So we’re going to finish that then hopefully write Medusa and hopefully get a Season 2 order.
Vlas Parlapanides: It’s been an interesting experience, because one thing to add, the first script we ever sold went to Universal. Now it’s picked up in turn-around at Netflix and you know, hopefully that’s going to forge ahead, too. That’s a heist movie. But working in the longer format and TV and working in animation, one of the things that’s been incredibly gratifying is that we’re involved in the whole creative process. And for better or for worse, we got to tell the story we wanted to tell. You know, we weren’t we written as we were, say on Immortals and say how we were on Death Note and and that was very gratifying. Again, for better for worse, we were able to tell the story that we wanted to tell. And it was it was just fun to again play in that sandbox. As Charlie said, we would just love to create, you know, that Medusa show and God willing get a Season 2.