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Blood: The Last Vampire


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Title Info

  • type: Movie
  • grade: worthy
  • source: Madman
  • form: both
  • Other elements of this title:
    • This title may offend the sensitive.
  • people: Oshii
  • dur: 48
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Tue Aug 14 16:29:14 EST 2001
  • mod: none

This title was seen as part of the Melbourne Anime Festival (MAniFest). At which it was presented by Madman, the Australian distributor. I appreciate the work of both these groups in allowing me to see this interesting anime.


In a subterranean tunnel a train rushes through the darkness. This darkness, and the fact that there are only two passengers, suggesting that it is late at night. The sounds, motion, and detail having a clarity that lets you know something important is going on here. The two passengers are a young school girl, and a middle aged man slumped in his seat. And then, as the train enters an even deeper darkness, everything jars into motion.

It turns out that the young girl is far from normal. Having a complicated heritage, an unusual connection to the powers of authority and an equally unusual personality. She is sullen, anti-social and intense. She has a mission that consumes all of her attention, will let nothing stand in the way of her carrying it out, and considers even the most brutal acts of violence to be acceptable tools in her work. The bad news is that she's the `good' one, and the monsters she hunts, evil monstrosities that feed on human blood, are much, much worse. And, as in this case, normal people just might find themselves trapped in the middle of this conflict.


I had a better synopsis written...but it gave away too many spoilers so I scrapped it. It is worth mentioning that a synopsis is probably not too useful, or possible, for this anime. It's almost entirely an action and atmosphere piece. Apparently it's also meant to be the `origin point' for a range of games and other products which will extend and explain the story. As such there's a lot of elements in the anime that are left somewhat mysterious. In addition, as a story, it's not really very complex. After all, it's not a very long anime.

It also seems to be partly experimental. There's obviously some decent money behind it and some of this is used on computer graphics. But rather than use this for fantasy, spaceships and super powers it is used to attempt an unusual sort of hyper-reality. The `gloss' on the computer graphics is kept low, great attention is paid to `surfaces' and complexity and the emphasis seems to be on a more complex and detailed depiction of a particularly grungy reality. It's unusual, and there are some fan-service pans and times when it looks a bit artificial, but it's very interesting and largely successful.

The atmosphere generally works well too. Mamoru Oshii knows how to do this gritty and intense stuff well, and he does a good job here. The clipped and intense dialog, the complex suggestions of a wider picture and the way characters move and look is all solidly done. It does mean people look a bit ugly, they and the environment full of weaknesses, flaws and a dark sense of realism. Skillfully handled production that works well to frame and support the story. The pacing, direction and the way the various events link together also shows evidence of great skill.

However, in the end, it's not without some limitations. The first thing is that it is clearly just a single incident in a much wider story. It's somewhat annoying not to know the start, let alone conclusion, of what is going on. In addition the pace, and dialogue, limit the amount and complexity of character work. And, perhaps being somewhat over-critical, it didn't feel like Oshii was truly excited by the project. There's a couple too many style excursions, messing about with the possibilities of the computer graphics, and intense but not explained interactions. It sort of feels like he was brought in to do a job, which he did well and professionally, rather than something that truly interested him.

But really, who cares. If you are in the mood for a dark and atmospheric action piece then you should enjoy this. The lead character is wonderfully intense and capable, the combat scenes are detailed, well designed, and quite believable. There's a real sense of motion, danger and physical impact about them. Fast moving, gory (psycho schoolgirls with katanas, another reason to love anime) and carry a real sense of danger and reality about them. It's entertaining and exciting to watch.

As mentioned the animation is unusual but skilled and well handled. The level of detail allowed by computer assistance, and the artistic way in which it is used, being very interesting. Characters are traditional in depiction but somewhat unusual in design. To match the backgrounds they have more `detailed' features which don't match the `expected' anime look. The action is great, the environment is complex and believable and the production is solid in all aspects. The DVD I saw had a mix of Japanese and English, since the main part of the film takes place in an English speaking environment. It still seemed that too much attention was paid to lip-sync, leading to some stilted lines, but it was perfectly acceptable. Then again, one character was a Japanese woman speaking English, so perhaps it was intentional.

Other Reviews

  • Lord Carnage review It looks like Herself the Elf was in the chair for this one, and the review is informative and positive. It also states that it was designed by Oshii but not directed by him, that would explain why I missed his `touch'. I agree with the review, including the somewhat sudden `ending' (4/5).


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:15 WST 2009