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Reflection of Saya in a shop window
Reflection of Saya in a shop window
Reflection of Saya in a shop window
Reflection of Saya in a shop window
BLOOD - The Last Vampire
Reviewed in June, 2001 by Mark Vallen, Jeannine Thorpe, and John Lentini . Screen shots generously provided by John Lentini.

(Comments by Jeannine Thorpe) Occasionally an anime comes along that breaks so many new frontiers, that it's considered an instant classic. BLOOD-The Last Vampire will surely be one of these. Already, it stands apart as the first 2D anime to be created using completely digital media, and the first anime film to have a bilingual score of Japanese and English dialogue. But the truly masterful thing about this remarkable anime is how the various elements come together to create an unbelievably realistic work of art that will hold you breathless from the very first frame, to the very last.

Set on the Yokota American airbase in Japan during the beginning of the Vietnam War, you are immediately pulled into the story of Saya, a mysterious young female figure who is brought to Japan to hunt down a menacing race of demons, the Terrapterans. Little is revealed about Saya or her background, but her strong will and grace with her preferred weapon, the Japanese sword or katana, bring the screen to life.

Saya is brought into the American style High School located on the base in order to lure out the hiding demons, and the story that unfolds is as dark as it is terrifying. The digital animation, particularly the soft lighting effects and seamless movement, create the perfect illusion of realism, and you will have to suspend belief that you are not watching a live action film! It is the bilingual, bicultural nature of this film that I feel truly sets it apart.

Saya ready to attack
Saya ready to attack

Hearing the dialogue in both English and Japanese, seeing the melding of cultures on the American airbase, even the ultra realistic character designs which could arguably be labeled "American-inspired" due to the large full lips.... is a fascinating melting pot of cultures that one very rarely sees on film. Both native English speaking actors as well as bilingual Japanese voice actors were used, resulting in a flawless transition between languages, especially with the extremely gifted talents of Youki Kudoh as Saya.

The English dialogue is thoughtful and colorful, reflecting both the style of the time in this period piece, as well as the direction of the Japanese creators. It was delightful to hear English dialogue as the Japanese directors meant it to be heard, and not a bad dub by American companies who don't even listen to the original dialogue when doing a project. The overall feeling you get from this film, is that you are witnessing the true avant-garde of animation in art. Your only complaint will be, "why can't it be longer?"
A Demon in Human guise
A Demon in Human guise
Saya's sword blow
Saya's sword blow

(Comments by Mark Vallen) Forget Buffy the Vampire Slayer... Animation Studio Production IG and Director Mamoru Oshii ("Ghost In The Shell", "Jin-Roh") have presented us with the real Slayer, in Blood - The Last Vampire. This dazzling movie is a humorless, brooding, Gothic masterpiece with a plot somewhat akin to a cross between X-Files, Men in Black, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, unlike the aforementioned live action shows... "Blood" is ultra serious in it's treatment of the supernatural.

This movie goes beyond anything I've seen in terms of realism in animation. It is the most startlingly realistic work, so much so that at times you forget you're not watching a live action production. The movie flawlessly combines super realistic computer generated 3D Illustration with beautifully rendered, exquisite drawings. In this film, all things mechanical were produced using 3D software, and then welded seamlessly into other shots. The scene directly below is one such example. A 3D airplane is incorporated into a more traditional 2D animated tableau, and the computer controlled motion tracking results in the most incredible illusion of realism!

Saya-chan in deep thought
Saya-chan in deep thought
Saya-chan at the Airbase
Saya-chan at the Airbase

If you're a science fiction or Gothic Horror fan, the fabulous swordplay, demonic transformations, and unnerving terror of Blood will have you howling for more. But even if you're not a fan of the aforementioned genres, you'll still marvel at the unequaled artistic triumph of this production. The world of animation is definitely changing... and Blood represents the most advanced vanguard in the new school of animation art.

(Comments by John Lentini) When I first got into anime way back when, two series I remember vividly in my past were about Vampires, and at that time they were two of the best anime series I had ever seen. Those two anime series being Vampire Hunter D and Vampire Princess Miyu. Now over a decade later both Vampire Hunter D and Vampire Princess Miyu have returned to quench the thirst of anime fans that enjoy Vampire stories. So logic would dictate that more Vampire stories would follow, and the first one I got to see was Blood - The Last Vampire, which should really give anime fans what they want to sink their teeth into! Blood is a feature that will take a couple of minutes to adjust to, not only is this movie bilingual in Japanese and English, but all the characters are drawn as real as you and I.

Features like Blood and Jin-Roh appear to be going away from the usual style of anime, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't embrace this type of anime as well. Realistic storytelling and drawing seem to be the way of the future in anime features, so we as anime fans should open our open minds a little wider to accept this new method of storytelling. Blood does not have a lot of bright colors and cute character designs that so many of us have grown up on, but that shouldn't stop you from watching this fantastic feature.

A Demon transforms
A Demon transforms
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