I sat down to watch Blood: The Last Vampire
confident that I was about to experience something special. The film garnered many critical accolades upon its release a decade ago, and also sold truckloads of DVDs here in the States and abroad, so it was reasonable for me to expect a great film. Imagine my shock when the film ends (a scant 45 minutes after starting) and I question if I watched the same movie as the multitude of praising critics and adoring fans. The film I saw was far from a masterpiece of anime cinema. In fact, Blood: The Last Vampire
is the very definition of mediocre.
Before you light up your torches and head to the Home Depot to buy pitchforks in bulk, hear me out. Consider for a moment that many successful and beloved films really aren't worth the praise heaped upon them. Take James Cameron's Titanic
for example--a film lavished with praise far and wide, and a winner of several awards to boot. Titanic is a film wrought with flat, boring characters; melodrama so thick you can spread it on toast; and a piss-poor romantic A-plot that really has no business in a film about a terrible real-life disaster. And don't get me started on that damn Celine Deon song.
You're no doubt asking Hey bub, what's your point?
This: sometimes, the masses are wrong
. In the case of Blood: The Last Vampire
, the film's admirers aren't dead
wrong, but they are quite close. To start, let's look at the film's positives. Visually, Blood
is astounding. Film is a visual medium, and Blood
succeeds in presenting a palpable visual and audio aesthetic that is top notch. The mix of traditional 2D hand-drawn animation, 3D CGI, muted color scheme, and moody score works well, creating a dark and foreboding atmosphere that ratchets up the tension from the film's start. In a horror film featuring vampires and demons, atmosphere is key in setting the right mood; and here, Blood
But visuals alone cannot save a movie from critical damnation--well, at least not for me. I need characters I care about. I need a story that intrigues me. Blood: The Last Vampire
doesn't offer either of those things. The protagonist, Saya, couldn't be more boring. You never learn anything about her other than what the title tells you--and even that
is never explained in depth. The English actress voicing Saya brings absolutely no emotion to the role. I know Saya is supposed to be a hardcore bad-ass slayer of demons, but the actress could try
to care. She does not, unfortunately, which in turn makes me not want to care about her.
There's a nurse character whose name I didn't bother to remember due to her annoying lack of humanity. She figures prominently into the plot of Blood, but I'm not sure why. She offers nothing to the proceedings. She's a whimpering buffoon that has no place in a movie like this. And as bad as Saya's voice may be, the woman voicing the nurse is exponentially worse. If every anime film featured voice actors like this lady, I'd swear off anime forever.
But enough about the acting. The plot--arguably the
reason to watch any film--is paper-thin and inexplicable. I had to read the Wikipedia article about Blood
to know what the hell was going on. From the film alone, I gathered Saya was out to destroy demonic creatures called chiroptera on an American Air Force base on Halloween. That's pretty much all any sane or intelligent human being could gleam from the film's threadbare plot. I understand that the Japanese don't often explain a hell of a lot in their films, and I'm fine with that. I can fill in the blanks with my imagination; and I'm more than happy to do so in a film with a solid plot structure. Blood
solid, riddled with one too many of the aforementioned blanks.
What Blood: The Last Vampire
needs is an extra hour or so of plot and character development to flesh out the film, along with a stronger voice cast. I'm hoping that Blood +
, the anime series loosely based on Blood
, can offer that. Sadly, the makers of Blood cannot turn back the clock and undue their mistakes. The film that I watched will remain, now and forever, a visual masterpiece cursed by lackluster acting and a virtually nonexistent story. Considering everything under the sun is remade these days, perhaps all is not lost. Perhaps one day soon, we'll see a proper Blood: The Last Vampire
anime brought to life (if in fact Blood +
sucks). Until then, I say rent this for the fantastic atmosphere alone, but don't expect much else of worth.