Reviewby Christopher Macdonald,
The Last Vampire 2002
Blood: The Last Vampire was an excellently crafted 45-minute episode; unfortunately, it was presented to us as a stand-alone “feature film” and as such it lacked the development, background, and explanations that the audience expected. Blood: The Last Vampire 2002 rectifies this situation, providing the explanation and conclusion lacking in the movie. Taken together, these two “episodes” form a much more complete—and satisfying—story.
The Manga still leaves many questions unanswered, questions that are perhaps answered in the PS2 game, but it does manage to answer others. In particular, the Manga tells us who exactly Saya is and why she works for the US government, along with a few other details. It also provides the story with more of a conclusion than the movie did. At the end of the movie, it seems that things were as they were before: Saya still worked for the government and would presumably go on to hunt down more Chiropterans. At the end of the Manga however, things have changed quite considerably.
Benkyo Tamaoki's art style has never been what one would call “beautiful;” readers familiar with his other Manga will instantly recognize his gritty yet realistic art. While most Manga and anime “beautify” the world, Tamaoki eschews this trend. The result is that upon first glance, most of his work looks quite ugly. In addition, his dark, busy art style further ads to the “ugliness” of the Manga. Although many will be turned off by the art, it is in fact a strong point of the Manga. While it may be “ugly,” the art is far from bad, and the “dark” art is very well suited to the somber story. Furthermore, having an art style different from the hordes of generic Manga is a pleasant change.
The story takes place in 2002, some 25 years after the Anime. Saya has once again been sent out to hunt down a den of Chiroterans. As with before, the Chiropterans are feeding on unsuspecting high-school girls and Saya must track them down using a young girl as bait.
The Manga is much more graphic and violent than the Anime, and in addition to the graphic violence, it contains many scenes of nudity and sexual suggestion—definitely for adults, and definitely not for a mainstream audience.
Given that almost every Manga publisher is now publishing titles in their original right to left format, it is a bit disappointing that Viz would chose to “flip” Blood, particularly given that this title has absolutely no chance of attracting a mainstream audience.
All in all, Blood: The Last Vampire 2002 is a very interesting story, well written and entertaining. However, the Manga is best viewed as a conclusion to the movie, not as a separate entity. Potential readers who are interested in the Manga but have not yet seen the movie should see the movie first. Picking up the Manga on its own will be akin to starting a story in the middle. Fans of the original movie will be entertained by another captivating episode, and they will also be very thankful for the explanation and closure to the story.
+ Adds much craved details to the story of Saya, art sets it apart from most generic Manga
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