NOVEMBER 22, 2009
Had I known Blood: The Last Vampire was not a feature length anime, I wouldn’t have agreed to review it for Anchor Bay, because HMAD is all about the features baby! Also it meant having to review Ghost In The Shell 2.0, which IS a feature but not even horror. I don’t have time for these shenanigans! Oh well, at least Ghost is considered a classic (I’ve actually been longing to see it for quite some time, thanks for the kick in the ass, AB!) and Blood is, short or not, a fun little vampire tale that I was happy to check out.
At a scant 45 minutes, there isn’t too much of a plot to discuss: our heroine is on the trail of a vampire who is a student at this one particular school, she finds it rather quickly, and they fight. Then they fight again a few minutes later. The end. There are some other subplots that seem a bit underdeveloped (why is the David guy having her kill a non-vampire at the beginning of the film?), but it moves along so fast you probably won’t realize it until it was over and you had to write a review.
(See what I did there?)
I’ve never been a big fan of anime, however, and part of the reason is the stuttery animation. People never move as fluidly as they do in traditional hand-drawn animation (i.e. Disney), and it seems like half of the time nothing is actually moving, and the animators are simply playing with rack focus shots and such in order to give the shot some life. The stories are larger than life, but the animation often seems like the result of several cut corners.
I do like the actual STYLE of the film though; meaning, if I were to pause the screen at any time, I would like what I saw. The vampire is a great looking bat/rat type thing, and the characters are all well defined (I never confused one character for another, something I cannot claim for others I have seen). And I LOVED the bit where the teacher goes to the school dance and is accosted by a traditional “big red collar and slicked back hair” type vampire. And even though the short length keeps it from getting too wide-reaching, I liked the scope of the tale - we go from a subway to a little school to a big army base to a runway, all in the span of 40 minutes, each with their own major setpiece. Plus, like I always say, any movie where a young girl slices another young girl (who is a vampire) in half can’t be all together bad.
The special edition contains a strange bonus feature titled “Digital Media Version” (as opposed to the “Telecine” version that is the main feature). Maybe someone with a sharper eye and better TV set can spot a difference, but I am not one of them. Either way it seems like a random way to fill up the disc; would anyone really sit through the entire movie again just to see the difference between a film transfer and a digital transfer (of a cartoon where people aren’t moving half the time anyway)? Of far more use is the making of, which is VERY technically oriented but worth a look all the same, if for nothing else than to see how these sort of things develop as opposed to a traditional feature.
Unsurprisingly, the recent live-action feature version, which I have heard is both “mind-blowingly awful” and “incredibly bad” (talk about polarizing the audience!) - the release of which is probably what prompted this new edition of the nine year old film in the first place - is not mentioned at all. Assuming that what I’ve heard echoes my sentiments toward the film should I ever see it, it’s a shame that it turned out so bad, because my two main concerns with the animated version were its rushed story (I later learned that the "film" was actually the middle part of an intended three episode series) and somewhat stunted animation, two things a 90 min film could have corrected. Oh well.
What say you?