Tentacle-Free Anime: "Blood: The Last Vampire" (2000) Review
In honor of horror month, I have teamed up with one of my amazing fellow Trash Mutants, Ninja Ross, for a double review of a movie that I have enjoyed several times over my lifespan as a human organism. This feature dabbles in my favorite kind of monster from the horror genre: vampires!
Kazekun: This was a fun movie, I've seen it several times and it never gets old. It's one of those "Day in the life" type of movies 'cause if you think about it this was just a few days in Saya's life and not a very "big" adventure. But I enjoyed the dark atmosphere and the superb animation. The chiropteran beasts looked terrifying.
Ninja Ross: I have indeed seen it before, a few years ago. I barely remember it, but there are some images that stick in the mind, since they were pretty well done. As you mentioned, I don't watch a lot of anime but one thing I have noticed, is... There are a lot of schoolgirls in anime, including this one; What's with that?
Kazekun: School girls are, for lack of a better term, a fetish in this anime otaku culture. Manga comics (which in turn become anime) have always been considered more for boys and what do boys like better than young schoolgirls around their age to fawn over? Though in recent years other animators have begun to turn schoolgirls in anime into the symbol for shows regulated more towards girls. Here in Blood we see the creator showing an empowered girl who is both sexy and badass in what she does. Something for the girls and the guys.
Ninja Ross: I did notice that Saya wasn't as exploited as some anime I've seen. That was certainly nice! Thanks for clearing that up, I've always wondered about it! I thought the horror in this was excellent, thanks to Hiroyuki Kitakubo's directing. The way he created tension using close ups and sound was very effective in creating atmosphere. The opening scene especially, with the way he used the credits to break up the action, was very well done.
Kazekun: I completely agree! This was an original concept story where he got to be really experimental, it came out in a time when anime was sort of seeing a boom in more original stories an experimental work than you can see today. I loved every close-up of the chiropterans (which, if you didn't know, chiroptera literally means bat) their red eyes shining in the darkness was creepy. And there were a few moments that put you right on edge, most those scenes dealing with the nurse, experiencing all this carnage through her eyes. That being said though, and going back to your original comment on Saya's professionalism, I did notice that you really can't relate to Saya and she remains a sort of enigma throughout the whole thing. You get in and out so she comes across as a little too one dimensional.
Ninja Ross: Saya and David were pretty much the only characters I liked. I enjoyed how cold Saya was and how she was clearly there just to do a job. Her lack of emotion made the scene with the final vampire, on the airstrip, more effective. I liked David simply because I like grumpy characters. But the nurse... She drove me nuts. I'll admit, I really wanted a vampire to eat her. All she did was scream and sob. I know I know; she was frightened for her life. But still! Saya could have taken the time to at least find some duct tape.
Kazekun: Hahaha, I do like Saya and I agree with you on that, I wasn't a big fan of David but all I could think of was poor nurse. She was trying to hard to stay alive and just wanted this all to be a dream. But I was expecting her to die and was kind of glad she didn't. Maybe I was able to put myself in her shoes easier. What did you think of the setting? I thought it was quite original, a 1966 U.S. military base on Japanese soil. And everything looked real and authentic as well. I just realized this movie takes place during the Vietnam War, which went from 1955-1975.
Ninja Ross: I don't think she was trying that hard to stay alive. People who try to stay alive don't act as dumb as she did, surely! I liked the setting, sure. It was certainly unusual but it helped the atmosphere, I think. A violent war, unwanted by the people, seems to add to the tension a little.
Kazekun: She's an older, motherly figure, probably single and doesn't think much of herself and has never really been in trouble. At least that is what I think of when I see her all panicked about instead of having the survival mind. I really like when characters and settings are realistic (even in fantasy you feel like it still could exist in some way) I especially love when characters look like real people like we had here in Blood. Though I have to say... Saya's lips. What was going on there? Haha
Ninja Ross: You've probably got the nurse spot on, there; but that doesn't make her any more tolerable to me. I appreciate why she was there; she was there to, essentially, be the audience. To voice our concerns. "What was that? Why did that happen?" and so on. So, in that sense, she served a purpose and did it well. Something I didn't like about the movie, though, is the animation. I know it's not exactly a new movie and that anime tends to have a pretty tight budget but a lot of scenes were very clunky.
Kazekun: I agree with you on that, it's that middle ground between CGI and 2-d animation but I thought it was gorgeous in a lot of scenes. What was clunky?
Ninja Ross: Mostly the more subtle scenes. The action scenes seem to have eaten the majority of the budget, leaving others looking slow and poorly done at times. Although, the action scenes were pretty great. So, maybe it was worth it. You have a good point. This wasn't a very long movie so they spent every dime on the action. There really wasn’t a lot of subtle scenes anyways.
Kazekun: I know there is a related anime called Blood+ that really expands Saya's character. I don't know if you've seen it but it's pretty great. So overall what did you think of Blood: The Last Vampire?
Ninja Ross: It's something I may check out in the future, actually. Over all, it was a well-directed horror with one annoying character and some animation problems.
Kazekun: Characterization wan't perfect all around, I would've liked to have known Saya a bit better, but I understand why they gave her such professionalism. Actually in a way she was like Hellboy, but without the snark and cigar.
Ninja Ross: 4 Whiny Nurses out of 5
Kazekun: 4 Red-Eyed Chiropterans out of 5
Have you seen "Blood: The Last Vampire"? Enjoyed the review? Let us know in the comments!
Tagged: Tentacle-Free Anime.