Mike wonders aloud which anime would be a good fit for the prestigious Criterion Collection.
Reviewby Christopher Macdonald
Blood - The Last Vampire
DVD / Theatrical Release
Right before the dawn of the Vietnam War, the US Army has plenty of fears with the deteriorating situation in Vietnam. However a new, potentially worse threat has appeared within their own bases, the Teropterids may look human but they are in fact evil creatures with no regard for the lives of the humans whose blood they feast upon.
Saya too is much more than she appears to be, a seemingly normal (although downright gloomy) Japanese teenager, Saya is in fact the best hunter of these fearsome creatures. A Teropterid is no match for Saya's more than human strength and her deadly sword, but how long until one Teropterid is lucky?
Saya is planted undercover as a student in a high school on the Yokota Base in Japan in order ferret out a group of Teropterids and exterminate them.
From the artwork and animation, to the soundtrack and direction, Blood: The Last Vampire is flawless. The problem with Blood certainly isn't any of these. Instead, Blood's flaw is with what isn't presented.
From the vehicles, which some spectators mistook for actual video recording (as opposed to animation), to the elegantly crafted features of Saya and the monstrous Teropterids, which could never be mistaken for real, the artwork within Blood is absolutely astounding. Superb animation brings the artwork together, realistic movements and fluid animation are just what you would expect from I.G., and once again they have delivered.
From the first action sequence seconds into the movie to the final showdown Blood is almost all action. The movie slows down only for a few short minutes to give the viewers an idea of just what Saya is doing at the Yokota Base. But herein lies the only flaw in Blood: The Last Vampire; while we know what Saya is doing at Yokota (Hunting Teropterids), we don't know why, we don't know what the Teropterids are, we don't know why Saya works for the US Military (or even if she really does), we don't know anything about Saya or the story itself, and we never find out, not in this movie at least. Mamoru Oshii may be writing a Manga for simultaneous release and Production I.G may be developing a Playstation 2 game, all of which may or may not explain the missing elements of the story. A feature film should not need external references to complete important aspects of its plot. Blood would have been flawless if the script had been extended somewhat in the middle to further develop the plot and the characters, Saya especially.
Traditionally, regardless of a film's setting, producers have always opted to have all major characters speak the language of the country where the film is to be released. As Blood takes place on a US military base Production I.G decided to break with tradition, 70% of Blood's original dialogue is recorded in English. The Japanese release of Blood will feature Japanese subtitles during most of the movie. The voice actors, led by internationally renowned actress Youki Kudoh, (Snow Falling on Cedars, War and Youth) who plays Saya, complete Blood's production with an excellent performance. From Saya's wrath to the nurse's dim recollection of events the voices always match the mood and the faces of the characters.
Blood is an easy movie to follow, the art, animation, and sound are all well done. The action will appeal to any action movie junkie, but the intellectual movie-goer will not have his/her appetite satisfied. Blood seems more like a filler episode in a series then a feature movie; the missing elements in the script keep this well crafted feature from being the masterpiece it could possibly have been.
Overall (dub) : A-
+ Superb animation, art. Great action scenes.
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