Genre: Vampire action/drama/romance (action)
What’s in it?: Fistfights, Gunfights, Alien vampires (you heard me right.)
What do NASA, Paris, an idol star, a terrorist and vampires have in common? They’re all stuffed into a 60-minute OAV known as Vampire Wars.
Vampire Wars is the kind of title that you know is going to be bad. I know you may be thinking, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but in this case I would suggest you judge this one by the cover, and judge harshly.
To me, there was nothing appealing about Vampire Wars at all. Where should I start? The plot I suppose. Well, I didn’t even bother writing up a decent plot summary. Is it because I’m lazy? Well, I am, but in this case I couldn’t find a way to formulate a coherent summary of this show. It has all the stuff I listed, but everything is jumbled together. The plot progression just gets choppy and uneven as the OAV moves along. The concepts presented to get things moving are downright implausible, senseless and totally silly. It also doesn’t help that the story is very cliché and convenient. For example, after our “hero” Kosaburo Kuki discovers the whereabouts of the damsel in distress, her mother just happens to have a helicopter that she uses to fly him over. Soon after, Kuki shoots one of those huge, stoic bodyguards (you know the type) full of bullets, but is still able to get the information he needs from him before he croaks. To add even more salt to the wound, the story doesn’t even conclude. It just cuts off abruptly on a cliff-hanger, with no continuation in sight. (Heck, the word “end” appears after the credits.) One thing I should mention is that Kuki spends very little time fighting vampires. In fact, for a show titled “Vampire Wars,” there is precious little screen time for the little neck-biters.
The characters are also an unappealing bunch. To be fair, their pasts are so poorly explained that there’s no hope anyone can empathize with them. The main character, Kosaburo Kuki, is completely unlikeable. He’s crude, blunt and mean. That didn’t bother me at first since, being a terrorist and all, he’s not supposed to be liked. However, due to that brilliant plot progression I mentioned earlier, Kuki is suddenly becomes Mr. Hero, who cares a great deal about the damsel in distress and simply must save her from certain evil. That’s all well and good, but there was nothing done to show Kuki was starting to change. One minute he’s being his crude, unlikeable self and the next minute he’s still detestable, but gives a damn. Kiki, the aforementioned damsel, isn’t so much unlikeable as she is forgettable (oops, I think someone better hand me a thesaurus). As a character she’s so poorly defined that I couldn’t care about the things that happened to her even if I wanted to. All the other characters are flat and not worth mentioning.
Artistically, Vampire Wars is bland and ugly. The art is not appealing, the backgrounds are unremarkable at best and the entire show looks fairly cheap. The character designs, while leaning toward older and realistic-looking, are pretty ugly for the most part, though perhaps passable on one of the vampires and a few women. The animation quality is sometimes passable but is oftentimes stilted and unnatural, with a few scenes having a surprisingly low frame-rate. This show doesn’t look like an OAV, even if it is from the early 90’s.
The Japanese acting isn’t completely awful, but isn’t particularly good. Good ole Kuki has a deep, monotone voice that makes the character all the more unlikeable. I guess the only other voice worth mentioning is Kiki’s, simply because one of her emotional scenes, while not terribly convincing, wasn’t outright bad either. The rest of the voices were indistinct and standard. As for the English, it was pretty cheesy, but also not completely awful. Kuki’s voice isn’t as deep and monotone, thus giving the character a little more personality. Some of the bad guys weren’t bad in a cheesy sort of way and none of the English acting was absolutely terrible. However, the amount of swearing in the script, while not as bad as I’ve heard in the past, certainly didn’t help. I’d cast my vote in favour of the original version if I had to choose, but I wouldn’t recommend this show in any language.
The background music was overly synthesized, cheap-sounding and unappealing. The end song was equally cheesy and the sound effects were very cheap and generic.
Vampire Wars isn’t popular in America (or Europe for that matter) and I sincerely doubt it’s known any better in Japan. There’s a reason for that. If this is the first time you’ve heard of this show, by all means don’t look for it. It’s not even good in a bad way. People who are especially interested in vampires will likely walk away sorely disappointed.