Blood: The Last Vampire - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A+
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Manga Entertainment
  • MSRP: 24.95
  • Running time: 80
  • 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

By Chris Beveridge     August 28, 2001
Release Date: August 28, 2001


Blood: The Last Vampire
© Manga Entertainment


What They Say
At the Yokota base in Japan, a nervous American military is on the brink of the Vietnam War. But a greater threat exists within the walls of the heavily guarded compound: Vampires. A team of top-secret undercover agents dispatches a mysterious young woman to destroy them.

Featuring brilliant characters design, top-notch animation and stunning musical score, Blood: The Last Vampire is one of the first Japanese animation films to be created completely digitally. The cooperative planning behind Blood: The Last Vampire was supervised under the direction of the acclaimed Japanese animation director Mamoru Oshii. Under a study group called 'Team Oshii', the creative staff were the same artists instrumental in the development and production of the smash Japanese animation masterpiece "Ghost in the Shell."

The Review!
Having thoroughly enjoyed Blood when I got the limited edition box set, I was looking forward to seeing how Manga was going to handle it. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that this release is the region 2 release with the region coding setting flipped.

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. Unfortunately, there's no 5.1 isolated score track here that was available on the region 2.

Video:
When released in Japan, both a digital version and a film telecine version was released. Manga's use of the digital version was expected, and frankly you need a really keen eye and a powerful setup to notice much difference between the two. 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:
A nice dark looking cover with the palest white looking Saya gives you the creeps right from the get go. The cover is very dark, but does work in its favor with a few shots of animation along the bottom. The back has a brief summary of the show and gives a few more shots of the animation as well as the technical specs. The one complaints I've heard, and it's worth mentioning, is that it lists a running time of 83 minutes. even in adding in the extras, you come up 20 minutes or so short. I don't know where they got that number from. The actual movie runs 48 minutes.

Menus:
The menus here are pretty decent, and considering the general minimal feel given to the region 2 menus, these seem pretty alive with animation and music playing along. Access times between menus is nice and fast and things are laid out in a pretty straightforward way..

Extras:
There's a few extras worth noting here. The first is the Japanese trailer that shows off the movie in letterbox form. There's also a decent image gallery which is made up with shots just from the show itself. The main attraction is the making of documentary. What's odd is that the running time for it is 20 minutes, when the making of included in the region 2 set is 41 minutes. There's some interesting material in it regardless, as well as some interesting tidbits with Yuki Kudoh who played Saya (and who I simply fell in love with in Snow Falling on Cedars from Universal Pictures).

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 this on 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 5.1 Language (one track with both),English Subtitles,Bonus feature "The Making of Blood",Original Japanese Trailers,Image Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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