Blood: The Last Vampire - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Manga UK
  • MSRP: £16.99
  • Running time: 45
  • 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 Kim Wolstenholme     April 19, 2005
Release Date: September 17, 2001


Blood: The Last Vampire
© Manga UK


What They Say
At the Yokata Air Force 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…. She is the last remaining original.

Featuring brilliant character designs, top-notch animation and a stunning musical score, “Blood the Last Vampire” is a breakthrough in digital film making, taking anime to a whole new level.


The Review!
Audio: B+

Viewers get a choice of either Japanese / English 5.1 or 2.0 tracks for this movie. Both tracks are fully functional with the 5.1 track standing out due to the use of the surround speakers, especially during the action sequences. As the movie is set on an American Air Force Base and associated school, the majority of the dialogue is actually in English with very few instances of Japanese being spoken.

Video: B+

Blood the Last Vampire is presented in its original aspect ratio and is anamorpically enhanced for widescreen televisions. For the majority of the film a muted colour palate is used and certainly up until the last 5 minutes bright colours are used very sparingly. As you would imagine for a film of this nature most of the action takes place at night and the blacks come across well, without being overpowering. As the film is so dark in tone for the majority of its running time it’s probably best to view the film in a darkened room to really appreciate the colour palate utilised. I noticed no digital artifacts or edge enhancement with the transfer.

Packaging: B

A nice atmospheric cover, which is mainly black with a moody profile shot of Saya taking up the main part of the cover. Underneath this there are a few screen shots taken from the move with the fences of the airbase visible right at the bottom. On the back there are another 4 screen shots along with a few quotes. The technical information for the disk is in a separate box, which interestingly doesn’t include the running time of the feature.

Menu: B+

The menu replicates the front cover of the box, but without the profile shot of Saya. The menu options are listed on the left hand side of the screen, whilst on the right side 3 ‘blood’ droplets play selected scenes from the film. The access times to the sub-menu’s are quick and a transition sequence of blood droplets is used to animate the move between the menu’s. The majority of the menu’s are accompanied by music from the soundtrack Once again the menu fits in with the mood and tone of the film very well.

Extras: B-

The disk comes with a large variety of trailers for the majority of Manga’s releases at the time these include Rayearth, Blackjack, X the movie, Ghost in the Shell, Perfect Blue, Ninja Scroll and Street Fighter Alpha. Unfortunately all of these trailers are way too short and don’t give any indication of what the films they are promoting are actually about. A photo gallery of around 20 screen shots is also included – this just displays stills from the movie that have to be manually selected. If nothing else it would have been nice to have music from the movie playing whilst the stills were being displayed to make things a bit more interesting.

By far the best extra on the disk is the making of feature, which lasts for around 20 minutes. This gives some background on the origins of the movie and some of the difficulties encountered during the production process. Lots of people are interviewed, which gives a good indication of just how many people are involved in making an anime film. The feature also discusses some of the issues with the use of 2D and 3D images and how they were ‘merged’ together.

The interactive links included on the disks didn’t appear to work properly with my Mac OSX, however, upon checking my desktop I found several folders which included an original trailer, some wallpaper and a screensaver. It would have been nice to see this trailer actually included on the disk itself.

Content: B+ (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Blood the Last Vampire sets the pace for the film right from the start with the heroine of the piece, a young girl called Saya, hunting what she thinks is a vampire in a Metro train in Tokyo. This is quite a stylish opening for the film, which showcases the 3D animation that is used throughout. This sequence is played out in brief flashes in-between the opening title’s (a tasteful blood red on black), which helps to build up the suspense of the chase and its inevitable conclusion.

It soon becomes clear that Saya works for a covert organization that appears to have a hand in targeting and destroying vampires. Upon dispatching her initial target Saya is given another mission; to hunt down and kill 2 vampires that have infiltrated the local American Air Force base school before they go into hibernation. In order to carry out her mission Saya must join the school that is situated in the grounds of the base and trace the vampires that reports say are there.

Saya joins the school the day before the Halloween party is going to be held, an event that the whole of the base is gearing up for. During her first day in the school Saya quickly establishes that vampires are indeed at the school after she finds where they have killed one of their victims. But will she manage to find the vampires in time before they go into hibernation?

Blood can’t be said to have a complex plot full of twists and turns but what it lacks in story (and let’s face it, the story’s not all that bad) it more than makes up for in action sequences and visual panache.

Saya the ‘heroine’ of the piece is far from your usual anime female. She’s portrayed as being strong-willed and is certainly not afraid of making her feelings known, as we find out right from the start. Strong female characters are now starting to be portrayed much more frequently, but at the time Blood was made having a strong female character who was also the lead was an exception to the rule. This determination to be different is also present in Saya’s character design. She’s not the typical cute anime girl with big eyes and vibrantly coloured hair, she’s thin, dark and doesn’t draw attention to herself unless necessary, something that is obviously a bonus in her line of work.

Apart from Saya the other characters come off as being quite 2 dimensional (although there is not a huge amount of time dedicated to character development it must be said). The school nurse in particular probably comes off the worst. I get the impression that this character was designed to provide a counter balance for the strength of Saya’s character however she comes across as far too meek and weak willed.

For such a short film the action sequences are certainly numerous. From the initial subway chase through to the climatic chase of the final vampire the action rarely lets up. These action sequences are fluid and graceful and show just how powerful and manipulative the vampires (in their human form) are. The visual style of the film also appeals, dark moody colours combined with pale pastels give the film an almost unearthly feel and for the majority of the film the only bright colour used is blood red. Blood has been billed by some as having ‘style over substance’ and whilst this criticism does hold water, the movie is so stylish that it’s easy to overlook the slender plot.

The film was made using both traditional and 3D animation which have been used to give the characters and the backgrounds much more depth and detail than is usual in short films of this nature. Another area in which this film excels is the use of shadow detail and lighting effects, which help to maintain the dark and brooding atmosphere that the majority of the film depends on. These effects combined with an ear popping soundtrack, numerous action sequences and interesting character designs (especially the vampires which are suitably ugly) make Blood the Last Vampire an enjoyable film to watch. The only disappointment is the short running time, however the story adequately fills the time allocated and the film doesn’t overstay its welcome, which is a criticism that can be leveled at more recent films and series.

In Summary:

Blood the Last Vampire is touted as being the first digital animated film, I’m not quite sure how valid this statement is, but the film serves as a very good study in the use of 3D and 2D animation, with both techniques being used very effectively. The film itself is visually stunning and holds up well when compared to newer films that have used the same combination of animation techniques. It’s a shame about the short running time as the film could easily have been fleshed out - a back story for Saya could easily have been added without sacrificing the overall pace of the film. However, as a first time effort for many of the people involved it certainly showcased their potential talents. If you like your anime to be action packed and stylish this is certainly a release to recommend

Features
Japanese / English 5.1 Language,Japanese / English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Norwegian Subtitles, Finnish Subtitles, Swedish Subtitles, Danishv,Portuguese Subtitles,The Making of Blood the Last Vampire Feature,Image Gallery,

Review Equipment
Panasonic 42” Plasma, Arcam 88+ Prog Scan DVD Player, Kef Egg 7.1 Speaker system with a Ruark log sub. Denon 3802 amplifier.

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