Running Time: 83 Mins
MSRP: $24.95 (18.75€, £12.97)
# 5.1 Soundtrack
# 2.0 Soundtrack
# English Subtitles
# Making of Special
# Theatrical Trailer
The use of computers in anime isn’t exactly a new trend. Dating back to the classic Golgo 13 to Cowboy Bebop, the use of Computer Graphics has slowly made it’s way into the animation production process for better or for worse. Produced by Production I.G., Planned in part by Mamoru Ooshi, and directed by Hiroyuki Kitokubo (Roujin Z), Blood: The Last Vampire is one of the first ever all digital Japanese animation productions to be released domestically.
Set against the background of the Vietnam War, Blood revolves around a young woman named Saya. A woman with cold, serious eyes and a quiet, yet strong demeanour; she is a vampire hunter. Working together with a group of undercover agents, she hunts them mercilessly striking them down with a wicked slash from her sword. Her latest hunt is an undercover mission at the school inside the Yokota Air Base. While posing as a high school student, she is assigned to dispatching two more of her prey that have infiltrated the public.
If you believe that this is another run of the mill vampire movie, you are dead wrong. Straight from the opening scene, you are pulled into scene that will set the tempo for the entire movie. A moody, dark scene inside of a train transforms in the blink of an eye into an adrenaline rush of emotion and brutality that concludes within a heartbeat, leaving you breathless. Animated to perfection.
Blood is a movie with wonderful pacing as well. Like a great symphonic score, the movie goes through a series of peaks and valleys running through it’s 50 minute runtime, slowly building more and more steam until it’s crescendo followed by it’s resolution. The peaks are designed to move you through its brutal action scenes, the valleys designed to let the events settle in your mind. Wonderful pacing through great directing and writing.
The designs by Katsuya Terada are not your usual anime fare (big eyes, small nose, etc), but a surprisingly realistic style. His characters are gritty, and stark, but very capable of very real expressions and emotion. The demons that serve as Saya’s prey, appear as humans, but transform into rather morbid primal beasts. Mouths extending far from their face, great in size, with eerie red eyes.
If there is one drawback to Blood, it’s that a little shallow in terms of characterization, specifically Saya. While the story is enough for us to get into without any problem, it would be great to know exactly why Saya is doing what she is doing. As well as the background behind the rise of these demons. Despite this, the characters are given enough personality to set them apart from each other with their own little mannerisms and so forth. We are given enough to accept and enjoy, but there is definitely a want for more.
In a rare decision seen in this industry, the creators decided to embrace the characters’ origins rather than ignore them and combine both the Japanese and English languages into this feature. Being set on an American base in Japan, it’s only natural that the majority of the characters involved speak English while some are bilingual (Saya and the Nurse). I applaud them for taking this extra step in taking this picture one step farther in immersing the viewers into their world. In fact, the majority of this movie is in English while little Japanese is spoken. Several of our English dub voice actors made the cut such as David Lucas and Rebecca Forstadt while working with Youki Kudoh (Snow Falling on Cedars). While some of the English speech comes off stilted and artificial, the majority of the film is very well done and believable.
Manga has pulled out their best DVD effort to date with a perfect anamophic 16×9 digital transfer. This is the best picture I’ve had the pleasure of seeing on my television. The subtitled are white, but with the dark nature of the film, they worked very well. The 5.1 soundtrack is wonderful as well. The voices are clear and distinct while the music and effects compliment the action perfectly. The extras on the disc include a cool “making of” documentary (which takes up the running 33 or so minutes of the total running time) that goes through a lot of the background behind the making of this film. Also, there’s the Japanese theatrical trailer and a good sized photo gallery.
Blood: The Last Vampire shatters all of the boundaries once thought of with animation and silences all of the naysayers of CG’s place in anime. Blood is a visual tour de force complete with wonderful directing, style, and great action. Blood: The Last Vampire deserves a place in everyone’s collection as it has earned it with a top notch production and action. I think I speak for everyone when I say that I want more!