This 45-minute theatrical feature animation managed to gain quite the reputation, but I found it difficult to see why; I can’t recommend it in the least. It has just one thing going for it: some above-average, albeit not stunning, animation sequences.
Released in 2000, Blood: the Last Vampire has spawned its own animation series, Blood+, as well as various video games. The plot is basic – vampires in an American military base situated in Japan must be hunted down by a kickass babe in schoolgirl’s clothes. Cue lots of bloodletting, lots of ugly, cheesy monsters and a fair few clichés that will have you burying your face in your hands. Not bad for three quarters of an hour.
If your idea of anime is stuck in the 80s, that is to say that you pick up a DVD from Manga Entertainment expecting a splatterfest of gore and maybe some idealised girls and explosions, but don’t care about plot, then just maybe this will be for you. If you like any semblance of plot or characterisation, look elsewhere, for our protagonist is a typical ice-maiden that it’s very hard to care about, and the sympathetic character at her side is even duller - although her character design (a dumpy middle-aged lady) is a welcome deviation from the rest of the clichés surrounding it. Much better action adventure anime can be found – just look at Princess Mononoke or Mai-HiME. Fans of vampire anime would do far better with Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust or Trinity Blood, which take their subject seriously but with strong characters and interesting storylines. There’s also the classic Hellsing, which is also cheesy in its way, but infinitely cooler than Blood: the Last Vampire because it revels in its schlockiness.
Perhaps the title was marketed heavily towards the English-language market because some half of its dialogue is in English. But this is to the detriment of the title, because the badly-written dialogue is made still worse by some stiff and lifeless English-language acting. And the way some of the black guys are drawn borders on offensive.
The integration of CG and hand-drawn animation is technically impressive, in the opening scene in particular, but that alone does not make Blood: the Last Vampire worth seeing. I also think it a little reprehensible that the running time is not supplied on the DVD case. I’m sure several people have bought this thinking they’re getting a full feature, only to have a piece of animation the length of a single TV special.
(originally written 11.9.07)
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