Blood: The Last Vampire Complete Box - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A+
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.
  • MSRP: 11800Ą
  • Running time: 48
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Blood: The Last Vampire

Blood: The Last Vampire Complete Box

By Chris Beveridge     April 25, 2001
Release Date: April 25, 2001


Blood: The Last Vampire Complete Box
© Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.


What They Say
The movie uses the full spectrum of digital animation which is said to have impressed even James Cameron. Japan's top creators gathered to make the show, which was shown in theaters using the HDCAM24P format which George Lucas will also be using for his Star Wars Episode 2. Triple disc set on DVD: Disc 1: Main feature (original film) Disc 2: Main feature (from digital studio master, using the master from the theatrical release using the HDCAM24P format) Disc 3: Bonus features (Interview with the production crew, Gallery of production material in 2D and 3D)

The Review!
I can tell you right now. This show is not going to go over well when it gets released in the US.

Audio:
There's plenty to love here in terms of the audio. The main attraction is the vibrant and dynamic 5.1 track that's got both the Japanese and English language mixed through. This is a very multilingual show, with characters slipping back and forth between English and Japanese depending on the situation. The 5.1 mix is incredibly dynamic with some excellent directional movement and probably one of the crispest sounding tracks I've heard in a long time. The action sequences in this show simply rock once they come up. There's also a great 5.1 isolated score track that will definitely get some repeat playing on my system. Overall, this is one top of the line disc.

Video:
Since we were provided with both a digital transfer disc and a telecine film version disc, we watched the digital version for our primary review. This anamorphic encoded transfer is just brilliant looking. The clarity of detail, the fluidity of the motion, it's simply a jaw dropper. There was no artifacting, no rainbows, no line noise during camera panning sequences. Nothing. The majority of this show is very dark and cramped, and it pays off wonderfully here. Watching this on the HDTV was one of the best anime viewing experiences I've had in ages.

Packaging:
For this box set, it just oozes quality. The box opens from the right and upon opening has a great picture of the cover on the left inserted in (that's removable, for proper framing no less) while the inset on the right has the two discs laying on top. Below it is the image gallery booklet, the how to use this sheet and the screenplay book that's both in English and Japanese. Finally at the bottom is the third disc with the extra material. The box itself is a great looking black lacquer style with little information really on it besides the brief technical boxes on the lower back side. This is one of those packages that you keep pulling out to show people cause you know they'll be shocked at how great it is.

Menus:
The menu system for the two main discs is pretty simple, with no moving animations or music. Selections are all done from the main screen except for scene select, and telling what you've got selected for languages and subtitles is pretty easy to discern even for the non-Japanese person. The mood is indeed set by the menu.

Extras:
Beyond the included materials in the package, the big extra is the 41 minute documentary piece that's provided on the third disc, that I believe was originally a give-away during one of the Japanese theatrical showings, most likely the premier. The unfortunate part to this third disc is the lack of subtitles as well as what appeared to be no interviews with the English speaking cast, though we did get a brief chat with Yuki Kudoh, a woman who completely blew me away with her performance in the hauntingly beautiful US movie "Snow Falling on Cedars". I was very surprised to find her involved with this production. Watching the making of material may be a challenge for some folks, but others will revel in seeing all that's included in it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Let's get this out of the way right from the get-go.

This show is unfinished.

There's no real ending to it. The best way to sum up the show is this; We're introduced to a dark brooding girl named Saya, who we learn may be the last of the "originals", presumably one of the eldest of vampire. Working with some unknown group that has connections to the military, Saya hunts down the various broods of vampires that exist. We meet up with her at the end of one assignment and the start of the next.

She gets assigned to take on the role of a student at a US military base in Japan where the militaries kids go. She's decked out in the traditional Japanese schoolgirl outfit and is thrust into the mostly English speaking world of classmates. Her English is quite good, though she slips into Japanese more often than not during her limited dialogue. According to her briefing, there are two demons in this school she has to hunt down. And so the chase begins, goes, and ends.

Honestly, that's about it. There's a number of gorgeously done action sequences throughout. But the plot is razor thin, hinging more on the novel that's released that presumably deals with the backstory as well as the Playstation game that presumably moves the story forward.

At first you may not realize it, but the story takes place in 1966. There's plenty of hints before the date is actually shown once, but the layout and design of everything is very minimal, very moody and undefined. Unless you knew beforehand, the opening half of the show feels like it could very well take place today.

The style of the cinematography is wonderfully done here, with some great inventive angles and mixing of the animation and 3D CGI that's surely bound to annoy some folks. The meshing of the two works almost seamlessly for the majority of the show, but there were a few motion sequences where you just felt like you were watching a cutscene from a Playstation game. Mind you, an intensely awesome looking cutscene.

While a lot of people really despise the "leave your brain at the door" movies, and the anime ones as well, a show like this is a pleasant break from the constant 13-26 episode grind of most series. There's a hell of a lot of blood, sweat and tears poured into this release and it shows on practically every frame of this show. Those with the ability to play region 2 discs as well as having anamorphic sets are going to simply drool over this. It's going to get a lot of repeat play on those dark and eerie nights.

Features
Japanese / English Language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround,English / Japanese Subtitles,16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen Transfer,Digital Master Direct Transfer,
Film Telecine Transfer,Limited Edition: DVD Box with Katsuya Terada Illustration embossed on the cover,Limited Edition: 3rd DVD - Special "Making Of BLOOD..." and Staff Interviews,Limited Edition: BLOOD booklet containing over 500 image boards from the movie!,Limited Edition: Complete BLOOD English and Japanese Movie Script!,Limited Edition: Katsuya Terada High Quality Full Color Illustration of Saya,"Super Picture Labels" for all 3 DVDs

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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