Being the capstone to the anime series of the same name, BLOOD-C: THE LAST DARK is a strange beastie. Once again, I find myself plopped into the middle of an already evolving franchise, not unlike a puppy abandoned inside a car already most of the way through the assembly line. Suddenly, there are all these monsters moving things around, and people speaking technical jargon - - then things just start moving in ways you don't expect.
Based on the clips of the show sprinkled here and there, though, I am not compelled to fill in the blanks. So it's once more, blindly, into the breach!
In the world of BLOOD, there are some sort of extradimensional monsters that devour people, and it is up to Saya Kisiragi to stop them. Not for any moral obligation or anything, but rather because these monsters are her only source of food. She arrives in Tokyo to wreak horrible vengeance on Fumito Nanahara (who destroyed everything she ever cared for) and, along the way, befriends a group of plucky young hackers who also hate Nanahara.
And that's the part of THE LAST DARK where things don't connect.
Nanahara has, apparently, taken over Tokyo with his unlimited resources and decided to make the youth of Japan go to bed promptly at 9PM. And, gosh darn it - - these kids aren't gonna take it anymore! They clash so heavily with the tone of Saya's story that it's difficult to reconcile the fact that they're actually in the same movie. The hackers are borderline obnoxious freedom fighters while Saya stoically goes about her business, plotting revenge and fighting monsters.
It's not even clear if the hacker kids are aware of the monsters: they just want to fight for their version of net neutrality. Heck, one of them gets attacked by one of the things in the first scene, but then it's never mentioned again.
The story isn't the only place where corners were cut, either. There are two times in the film where the use of computer graphics greatly clashes with the traditional style. The first, in the very beginning, populates Tokyo's underground subway stations with mechanical automatons, forced to move only in very specific locations by the hinges of their joints. The second, and much more egregious, is in a climactic battle with an enormous monster. Nothing pulls the plug on your suspension of disbelief like jarringly incongruous visual elements.
While the big set piece fights are lackluster, it's actually the subtler moments that make your eyes widen with horror. It's in the creeping dread of a man losing his mind to a monster, or in the false hope that your enemy is right within reach of your sword. It's also in the piecing together of clues in your mind thanks to dreams, and the realizations that your deductions bring.
If you've already watched the BLOOD-C series, you should give this a shot. Questions are answered, knives are twisted, and the setting is expanded. Outside of those people who saw that show through to the end, though, the time investment's just not worth it for the little sparks of fun here and there.
Matt Murphy is a freelance nerd who has contributed to many nerd websites. You can reach him by going to where the light meets the shadow, by sending out zeta-brainwaves or by following him on Twitter @Murphix