I’m going to do a brief series on what I suppose is called the “Blood Franchise,” just for giggles. This week is the film that started it all, Blood: The Last Vampire. I’m going to do both of the anime series, and the book series based off of the anime, but I won’t be doing the book form of the movie or the manga of the series, mostly because both of those were a little too out there for my case.
Although I derped to do this for Hansel and Gretel and for Dragon’s Keep, I’m going to keep trying to summarize what content-wise I saw. Blood: The Last Vampire follows a girl named Saya as she hunts monsters on an U.S. air base in Japan (Yokota, if I’m remembering the spelling right). She infiltrates the high school to identify the monsters while they are still in their human shape, in the process dragging the school’s timid nurse along for the ride. She has some sort of power, though what it is remains a mystery as she struggles during this hunt, hampered by the nurse, her weapon, and orders forbidding her to hurt humans. In the end, it is revealed that Saya is the only known original vampire left, hinting that these monsters are, in a way, her children, reflected in the way she stands over the last one.
I guess I’ll start with the animation/drawing style of the movie. The background is very pretty and realistic, not just “cartoon” realistic, and I like that we can see all the details on the character’s faces and props at times. The fact it isn’t completely dark colors or completely bright colors also balances well, creating an “adult” feeling to it, suiting to the genre. I’m not saying anime isn’t adult, obviously, but that sometimes it’s jarring to have these serious issues being faced by character with neon pink or blue hair, so this is a nice change. I also liked how there were different body types, and even though Saya is in a typical high school uniform of the sailor variety, she isn’t overly sexualized, or really all that sexualized at all. But some of the drawing style was…weird. The way mouths were drawn just seemed strange to me, and at times the close up of sweat on the faces was unsettling.
Character-wise… Well, the story definitely didn’t rely on explaining or showing characterization off, beyond Saya and the nurse at least. Really, it focused on Saya’s relationships with those around her, which I thought were really interesting. Her and David were close, and that much came through once the danger became real, as did Lewis being a bit of a butt to her. Her relationship with the monsters they were hunting seems complicated, though we aren’t given quite enough for me to really understand her motivation. More than anything, I wish we had been given a little more background on Saya’s hunt. There just wasn’t enough information there for me to sink my teeth into as a stand-alone story.
The plot was really simple and straightforward. Not a bad thing, since it meant it couldn’t have unnecessary plot lines that were left unresolved…but bad, because there just wasn’t enough on the bone for me. I feel like there is so much that I don’t know about these characters or this world, and because of it I felt a real disconnect. Without that story, it was just…excessive gore. I understand the want for mystery throughout the movie, leading up to the big “vampire” reveal at the end. But there just wasn’t enough clues leading up to it for me. I needed more. There are hints of a huge back story, but I just wasn’t given enough of it.
Which at this point, I have to go to the film as a whole, since…that’s all about what’s to this one. Obviously, it was meant to be simple and provoke thought and curiosity about what Saya’s story is, along with supplying enough gore to keep the horror fans happy. In those aspects, at least, it succeeded. But I think it could have been pushed further, and just rested on the mystery…which was really more of a, “We’re not going to tell you anything at all,” than a true mystery to me. The animation was nice to look at, if pushed maybe a little too far on the quirk scale for me, and obviously I loved the character designs. Overall, it isn’t a bad film. I just think it could do better.
And it did…eventually.