Wednesday, 27 July 2011

ヴァンパイヤー戦争/ Vanpaiyaa Senzo / Vampire Wars

There’s something a bit upsetting about the fact that while Toei were animating Dragonball Z, they were also making this and the equally awful Psychic Wars. A 50-minute OVA, it layers several strands of bad storytelling on top of one another, none of them complimentary, until it is a garbled mess of uninteresting characters, clichéd setpieces and made-up powers. For the first half-hour there are no vampires and no sign of war. By forty minutes in there are not only vampires but aliens from outer space and we have found out that the war was intergalactic. This vaguely informs a contrived and unsatisfying ending.

A beefy, scarred mercenary type called Kuki gets tangled up in the abduction of a mysterious woman he has pledged to protect. Different factions seem to be after her, with their own reasons, and many of them end up dying very bloody deaths. But in the end, will Kuki be the protector or will he need protecting himself?

Art and animation is dated, and because they went for sober and realistic, it doesn’t have the charm of cutesy Toei – which includes Dragonball. The horror and sci-fi elements are if anything silly additions that get in the way of what could have been a functional crime story, but on the other hand may well be the only reasons this got an audience at all. The characters are hard to like, and the random sex and violence is all the kind of juvenile nonsense that made anime so awkward and puerile before its post-Eva renaissance. There are also some parts that just should have been excised in the planning stage, especially making the vampire character – a typically long-haired and elfin anime vamp – stand after having his neck broken and move about as though he were a cardboard cut-out on a stick. It was never going to look good.

Fans of the genre may find something to enjoy here, but most would be best-off avoiding.

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