Mania Grade: NA
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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: N/A
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- 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 Roman Martel
February 06, 2002
Release Date: August 28, 2001
Overall Rating: 4.3
(on a scale of 1-5)
One look at the cover and you know it's cool. The copy reads... from the makers of Ghost in the Shell. It's got vampires. It's got a sword wielding school girl. And to top it off, it's called Blood. How could any self respecting anime fan miss this one.
This movie is visually outstanding. The sound design is top notch. So we need a presentation that is worthy of it. Manga has released a very clean looking version. The picture popped right off the screen and the sound work was also great. The menu was pretty classy with clips of the movie playing the background of the main choices. Everything is selected quickly and accurately. The keepcase will catch most people's attention, especially fans of horror or dark anime. The case contains most of the information you need to know, except for region coding. Oh yes, the reading for the time says 85 minutes. Well I don't know what kind of drugs they were taking, but this movie is only 45 minutes, and the documentary is about 20 minutes. I guess if you go through the gallery really slow it could add up to 85 minutes. For goodies you get a behind the scenes documentary, a gallery with still from the movie and the Japanese trailer. You might also get a little bonus DVD with a music video and some trailers from Palm Pictures. All told, it's not a bad disc technically. Good job Manga.
Horror movies are always tough for me. Blood, guts and gore, do not make a good horror movie in my opinion. You need a plot and you need a bit of the uncanny to really creep me out. I'm a big fan of the original version of The Haunting, Jacob's Ladder, Lost Highway and dare I say, The Blair Witch Project. Those films creep me out. Most everything else "horror" tends to be entertaining at best, or boring and funny at worst. So where does Blood fall. Well it's more of a traditional horror movie. It builds suspense with chases and gore. I didn't find it scary, but it was pretty entertaining.
The story follows a young girl named Saya. She looks a bit like a prototype for Laura Croft with her large lips and cool expression. Add to the fact that she's armed with a deadly katana and has no problem with slaying vampires and she steps up to a new level of cool. She's teamed with two Americans (they could be secret service, INTERPOL, or even MIB). It seems that some vampires have been found on a high school campus near an American Airbase. The year is 1966 so the American military presence in Japan appears to be more substantial than it is now. Saya goes undercover among the American students to weed out and kill the Vampires. But what is the secret that Saya hides and what are the Vampires after.
If you are going to see Blood for any reason it would be the animation and sound work. This movie has a great look and some excellent style to it. The use of lighting and motion makes this movie seem as cutting edge as Ghost in the Shell and Akira. The way computer animation and cell animation is combined works very well, even if at times it seems a bit off. It takes a bit to get used to the way the cell animation stands out against some of the CG, but overall the lighting does a great job of blending them together, especially in the scenes that take place within the school. The sound design combines well with the visuals. Since this movie takes place in the "real" world, most of the sounds are familiar, but some are just tweeked slightly off in some scenes to create an eerie mood. My only minor gripe has to do with the fact that movie takes place in 1966 but all the characters look fairly modern in dress and even some of the military equipment looked a bit too modern Aside from that this the animation is very impressive and is worth a rental.
The story is where I had the biggest problem. In itself everything is done fairly well. You are introduced to Saya and her companions. You see her in action, and see what kind of beasts the Vampires are. Most of the rules that apply to traditional Vampires don't seem to apply in this case. They can walk around in the daytime, they don't seem to have problems with holy symbols or garlic. These creatures do drink blood and are very strong. And the only way to kill them is to make them loose enough blood with a single blow. Guns don't work, but a sword, or well placed shovel could do it. Things are hinted at, especially to the true identity of Saya. And then the credits roll. You wait for the next episode... and nothing happens. This "movie" is essentially great set up for a really cool series and it seems like everything is in place for it. For example why have the setting be 1966? The way the movie is now, it can easily happen in our time, with no changes at all. In the end I was disappointed by the fact that all this set up happens with very little pay off at the end.
The dub is very strange. Since this movie takes place on an American military base in Japan many of the characters speak English. In fact Saya switches from English to Japanese depending on who she is talking to, as does the school nurse. Both actresses do an excellent job and their accents aren't thick enough to make them difficult to understand. The rest of the English cast does a good solid job and brings life to the characters. This is an unusual and well done dub.
The score is really good most of the time. It manages to maintain the eerie atmosphere in most of the key scenes. There were a couple times where the music seemed a bit too much but overall it worked well. Sorry, J-pop fans, there is no singing to be found here.
When it comes down to it, I enjoyed what was on the disc. But it was really a let down to not have the story continue. There really seems to be so much that could have been taken from the characters and the whole situation as it was set up. But as it is you're left with about 45 minutes of a good start and no pay off. I think this is a rental for any anime fan, but as a purchase it just isn't enough to really justify it. If you love horror style anime, if you are interested in studying how digital animation looks (and need something till Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within comes out), then you should buy it. But I think for most people this is a great rental.
Roman J. Martel
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Phillips Flatscreen (27 Inch), Sony Playstation 2