Blood: The Last Vampire

Blood: The Last Vampire

blood4Set just before the Vietnam War, an American agency working out of a military installation in Japan is hunting strange, abnormal creatures that feed off of human blood. At the head of the hunt is a mysterious young woman named Saya, who even her American supporters seem to fear. Using only a sword, Saya, with the help of a pair of US secret agents, tracks down and attempts to kill the last few of the monsters before they can escape or go into hiding once again. But what is her connection to the beasts she hunts?

Walking a similar pathway to action films and franchises such as BladeBlood: The Last Vampire is Japan’s animated contribution to this genre back in the year 2000. Despite the fact that is it over fifteen years old it has continued to hold up well. With smooth animation, non-stop action scenes planned out in excellent detail and well-rendered CGI it has all that any vampire fan could want. Add in some well-timed music and your usual dark, brooding atmosphere and you have all the ingredients for a vampiric hit.

Throughout the film the production is fantastic. That sound quality and musical score sets is apart from your usual vampire film from the get-go. As it’s a more recent animation, computers were utilised in the inking and shading stages, so many of the backgrounds and environments that the characters interact with are models that have been blended into the animation (I was surprised to hear this and couldn’t believe it upon a re-watch).

Coming in at only about 50 minutes in run-time, Blood is nevertheless a film that requires your full attention. The pacing and plot flow smoothly from scene to scene in a logical way that maintains your even though many of the main characters just suddenly appear and assume that you will just accept who they are and what they are doing. Since it’s first and foremost an action movie, you don’t really have the time for much exposition and ‘getting to know the characters’. Things shoot off at a fast pace and you have to have your wits about you to keep up.

blood2The main character here is, of course, Saya the “vampire” hunter. Young, grim and gothic, Saya is the perfect portrayal of a cold-blooded single-minded mercenary. Her actual aims and goals aren’t ever really revealed, but this doesn’t matter much since the focus is the hunt for the creatures. Other characters are mostly window-dressing when compared to Saya’s role, but you don’t feel like there is anything particularly lacking from their participation – especially the nurse who gets wrapped up in the hunt whilst Saya pursues a pair of students who are vampires in disguise.

I’m not usually a fan of dubs, but to my delight upon purchasing this DVD (many, many years ago), that the American characters in this feature were being voiced by both Japanese and Western voice actors. The tones for some of the foreign characters was a little slow occasionally, but I’ve watched a lot worse. You can see the effort that has gone into the design and production of this film – they’ve really thought about culture, translation and international dialogue.

As you should have already established at this point, Blood: The Last Vampire is a Japanese action film about hunting down vampires and, as a result, does tend to get very violent and messy in a few scenes. I wouldn’t invest in this one without expecting to seeing a generous helping of sword action and blood spatters, to say the least. I wouldn’t say that it was over-the-top at all, considering the context and setting, but you shouldn’t go into this one without expecting gore.

Considering the time it was released, this film is a great achievement in animation with the ability to tell a great story whilst refusing to neglect action. I would go as far to say that it’s got to be on every budding anime fanatic’s ‘must-watch’ list.