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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 8/17/01

Blood the Last Vampire
2000 (2001) - Manga Entertainment

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Blood the Last Vampire Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B-

Specs and Features

48 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, single-layered, Making of Blood: The Last Vampire featurette (21 mins), Manga video previews, theatrical trailer, Manga DVD catalogue, DVD-ROM web access, English credit sequence, animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (8 chapters), languages: Japanese/English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: English

"Don't ever piss her off again!"

Like so many wickedly cool anime films, I couldn't tell you what the hell is going on story-wise with this film. What I GATHER is that cantankerous and no-nonsense Saya, who appears to be an everyday average Japanese schoolgirl, is really the last "original" living in the world (we'll assume she's an original vampire). Anyway, she's been contracted by the American government to hunt down bloodthirsty demons/vampires/spawns of Satan and unquestionably kill them with a high quality samurai sword that may (or may not) be specially made for the job. I don't think it's special, considering that she uses a shovel to attack one later in the film, commenting that these creatures "have to loose a lot of blood in one strike or they won't die". But a sword seems to do the trick most of the time.

The setting for the film is an American Air Force base in Japan in October 1966. Saya latest mission is reentering high school so she can flush out a recently discovered demon and destroy it. But when she gets there, she finds out that these "demons" are getting even more powerful than the government guessed - and there may actually be more than one on the base. What follows is an epic battle that will leave you scratching your head, but with your mouth wide open at the eyeball-popping animation.

Blood the Last Vampire is awfully cool eye candy. It's also awfully vague and awfully short. The run time is only 48 minutes and 15 seconds long. But there's enough here for a full-length film, or that is to say, enough missing. It's definitely not bad in any way - I'd actually say it's so good I was upset there wasn't more here to gravitate to.

The main reason you'll want to check it out, is that Blood was conceived by Mamoru Oshii, the man who gave us Ghost in the Shell. But it doesn't appear that he had anything to do with the overall project other than putting together a wonderful team of traditional animators and computer technicians and making this film possible. The box proclaims Blood to be a breakthrough in digital filmmaking, but it's not really - at least not in this day and age. But don't take that as a poo-poo. This is definitely state-of-the-art stuff. There are some shots in this film that are so photo-real you'll jump back to see the image again looking for faults. And the character animation, although poorly synched, features some of the coolest looking characters I've seen in anime. Saya herself is pretty badass and the demon creatures will send a nice willie down your spine.

The picture quality on this DVD is very nice. It's the best thing Manga has ever put onto DVD, video and audio-wise. The anamorphic widescreen picture is artifact free with nice colors and deep blacks. There's no shimmer, no blur and no bleed. I was very impressed from the first moment I put the disc in the player. The sound is also top notch. You get both Dolby Digital 5.1, which is wide open and playful, and a 2.0 track as well.

Extras on the disc are light, but what you get is important. Along with a trailer and the standard Manga video ads, you'll find a Japanese documentary about the making of the film. A lot of work went into Blood the Last Vampire. A lot of work and a lot of pride. Here, you'll see exactly what it took to make this film and how they got it to look so "different". Unfortunately, the documentary gets slightly annoying when you notice that the interviewer is constantly agreeing with the interviewee, with uh-hum's over and over again. At first I had no idea what it was that was bothering me about it, and then it became as clear as day.

Blood the Last Vampire isn't a breakthrough, but it sure is cool. Every animation fan should pop this sucker into their player. It may be more of a rental for the curiosity factor, especially given the brief run time and the price, but it's definitely worth checking out. Blood will suck you dry and you'll love every moment - as short as those moments may be.

Todd Doogan
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