Blood: The Last Vampire Complete Box -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: A+
  • Video Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: A+
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.
  • MSRP: 11800¥
  • Running time: 49
  • 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

    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!
It?s not often that you get to experience a work of anime that is a true masterpiece. By ?masterpiece? I mean something that the creators have put their whole life, blood, sweat, and tears into. Something that just exudes Quality, Artistic Vision, and is pure Entertainment and wholly enjoyable.

We?ve seen it before with such DVD anime releases as ?Princess Mononoke? and ?Giant Robo GIGA Premium DVD Box Set,? to name a few examples. And we?re seeing it again with Production I.G.?s newest masterwork: ?BLOOD: The Last Vampire? Limited Edition DVD Box Set.

Perhaps the most unique thing about this Limited Edition DVD Box is that it contains 2 versions of the film on 2 separate DVDs: The direct Digital Master transfer, and the Film Telecine transfer. In addition, we also get a 3rd DVD full of extras.

The audio here is nothing short of downright *stunning.* Both DVDs come with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround ?Japanese / English? Audio mix as well as the ability to pick a Music-only DD5.1 mix. When I say ?Japanese / English Audio mix? it is literally that: BLOOD uses both English and Japanese language throughout the film, and in the end it makes perfect sense since it does take place on a United States military base located in Japan. The English voice actors are fair to good, with David (main American character) taking the cake as the best English actor in the film, voiced solidly by Joe Romersa. On the Japanese side, the highlight is Saya (main character), who is excellently voiced in both Japanese and English by international actor, Yuki Kudoh, known as the beautiful Japanese girl in the Hollywood film, ?Snow Falling on Cedars.? For being a native Japanese, Yuki?s English comes across as excellent, with a touch of slight accent which completely fits her character.

The video, like the audio, is nothing short of amazing. Besides the fact that we get *two* versions of the film, both versions are just super-pristine, gorgeous 16:9 anamorphic widescreen transfers: They are the cleanest anime transfers I?ve seen yet on DVD. For those who don?t know, Production I.G. went all out on the ?BLOOD: The Last Vampire? Limited Edition DVD Box Set by giving us both versions of the film - one which is a direct Digital Master transfer, and the other is a Film Telecine transfer which is a direct transfer from the 35mm film. This idea is already cool enough, allowing videophiles around the world compare and discuss which method truly ?looks better?: Film transfers or Digital transfers.

I reviewed both DVDs, and in the end, they were virtually identical. The Film Telecine version did have some specks and dust appearing once in a while, but it was very rare. In fact, I had to actually sit back and *actively look for* any blemishes before finally spotting some dust every few minutes or so (very rare and clean). In the end, the digital transfer wins out; but either transfer is ultra-clean with no rainbowing, no artifacting, or any blemishes. Nothing. Just perfectly clean video!

?BLOOD: The Last Vampire? Limited Edition DVD Box Set?s packaging is second to none. It comes in a huge, high quality, glossy DVD Box that opens up (like a valuable antique chest) on the right side by lifting the cover up. The Box itself comes with a gorgeous Katsuya Terada picture of Saya, embossed. When you open up the box completely, the underside of the cover contains a beautiful limited edition picture of Saya (again drawn by the original illustrator, Katsuya Terada) that can be framed (it?s *that* high quality and on good paper stock). The DVDs are lovingly packaged, with the Film Telecine DVD and the Digital Master DVD put side-by-side. Underneath that you?ll find the other extras, and on the bottom is the third DVD with the Interviews.

The DVD menus are perhaps the simplest aspect of BLOOD - you get a simple menu with a nice illustration in the background and your options to pick the language and subtitles. And that?s it, which is really all you need. The Extras are all on the 3rd DVD.

The Extras are just astounding! Besides the limited edition DVD Box (now *this* is a real DVD box), you get the high quality Terada illustration of Saya, both versions of the film, and a 3rd DVD full of extras from staff interviews with Hiroyuki Kitakubo, the director, to how they make the animated film at Production I.G., to interviews with Mamoru Oshii (Ghost In The Shell, Patlabor) who helped plan this film, to interviews with the beautiful Yuki Kudoh (voice actress of Saya) to the musical recording session for the live orchestra that they used to score the film! In addition, you get a wonderful BLOOD booklet containing over 500 image boards from the movie, and another book containing the complete English and Japanese script (screenplay) for the movie! Also, all 3 DVDs have gorgeous Katsuya Terada artwork for the DVD jackets, but, as a sidenote, the ?Regular DVD? version of BLOOD does *not* have them! Instead, they use a pretty mediocre piece of art done by some other illustrator.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As aforementioned, ?BLOOD: The Last Vampire? Limited Edition DVD Box Set is just a stunning package, and more importantly, a stunning work of art. The film while a short 48 minutes long, tells a compact, and tightly-woven plot about Saya, the last true vampire (an ?original?), and her quest to find and exterminate some hidden ?demons? (Saya calls them ?oni? in Japanese) who feed on the blood of humans; they are essentially descendants of true vampires given the references and how they are depicted, but they are never called that directly in the film. Taking place in 1966 near and on an American military base (Yokota base) in Japan, Saya has been working with an undercover group of US operatives who are trying to exterminate the last of these ?demons.? While simplistic, it is quite necessary and helpful given the short length of the film, but in the end, from the visual impact, to the wonderful film direction, to the engaging characters, BLOOD: The Last Vampire is a wonderful action-horror film that transcends the genre.

The film starts off with a quiet and powerful scene aboard a busy commuter train, with a subdued Saya sitting quietly, staring off in the distance, seemingly unaware of her surroundings. When the train finally empties, the only people remaining on board are Saya (sitting in her same, subdued position), and a normal-looking businessman. After a few minutes of silence, Saya quickly gets up and charges forward, unveiling a massive katana sword as she rushes this ?commuter.? The business man quickly gets up and starts running from her, with a horrified look on his face, knowing that he?s about to meet his maker. In a powerful, deft slice, Saya slays this man who turns out to be a demon in disguise. That, in a nutshell, represents much of what BLOOD is about: Perfectly composed film direction, moody, yet not overly brooding, and in the end, a massive amount of action.

From there the film goes on to mention that there are still a few more demons who feed on human blood, loose in the city and on the military base, and Saya has been commissioned by an undercover US military group to hunt them down. Suffice to say that the action and pacing gets even more moody, atmospheric, and powerful, with a powerful, stunning climactic action scene to end it all.

So what makes BLOOD: The Last Vampire so good? Probably the distillation of a vampire tale, powerful, genuine horror sequences, moody atmosphere, and awesome animation which all combine together perfectly in a 48 minute long masterpiece. While it would have been nice to have the film be a bit longer, what we get is pure artistry. Some great talent worked on this film and it shows: From Director Hiroyuki Kitakubo (Golden Boy, Jojo?s Bizarre Adventure), to Co-Planner Mamoru Oshii (Ghost In The Shell), to the wonderful and powerful designs by Katsuya Terada (a famous and talented illustrator in Japan, who?s painted works resemble something more akin to Frazetta than any ?typical? anime look), BLOOD just exudes quality and talent. In addition, they even got two of Japan?s most talented people in the anime industry to do *Key Frames* (i.e., something that people of this caliber normally wouldn?t do since they are qualified to do much more): Okiura-san (Director of ?Jin-Roh (Wolf Brigade)?) and Toshihiro Kawamoto (character designer / artist of ?Cowboy Bebop?!!). In the end, the stunning 3D work blends perfectly with the 2D sequences to create a powerful, visceral experience that is some of the best anime work ever seen today. All I can say is that we anime fans are truly lucky to be living in such a great Golden Age of anime, as now we see one of the ?big three? anime powerhouses firing their latest salvo into the anime industry (by ?big three? I mean Katsuhiro Otomo?s (Akira, Memories) group - Studio 4 degrees Celsius (Perfect Blue, Spriggan, Steam Boy); Hayao Miyazaki?s Studio Ghibli (Princess Mononoke, Totoro, etc.); and Mamoru Oshii?s group (Ghost In The Shell, Patlabor Movies, Jin-Roh: Wolf Brigade, and BLOOD). With cutting-edge works from groups such as this, it is even more amazing that Production I.G., Oshii, and Kitakubo have raised the bar of excellence once again. ?BLOOD: The Last Vampire? Limited Edition DVD Box Set is an outstanding film, and a perfect tribute to the greatness of anime.

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
Pioneer DV-606D (Code Free) DVD Player, Mitsubishi CS-3503R 35? TV, Yamaha RX-V2095 DD / DTS Receiver, MIT S-Video cable, KEF C85 Front speakers, B&W Center, Infinity Rear speakers, and NHT Subwoofer.


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