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Once the non-stop action starts, you will forget that there is no depth and enjoy the ride.

The next anime on the list is 2000’s Blood: The Last Vampire. Blood takes place in 1966 at the American Yokota Air Base. It is actively gearing up for the Vietnam War. Much of it takes place at the high school on the air base, Yokota High School where the children of the American service men go to school. It’s Halloween, the perfect setting for a horror story.

Early on we meet Saya, a girl who hunts monsters called chiropterans. These creatures feed on human blood and disguise themselves as humans. When transformed, they look like giant bat-people. We also meet David, her handler. He presents Saya with a mission to pose as a student at the high school, as at least one monster is hiding there. Perhaps more. Sure enough, two of the students are chiropterans. Saya takes one out, but one escapes wounded and heads for the student Halloween dance. Saya’s sword breaks in the process. The school nurse is witness to all of this and tracks the wounded one while Saya looks for a new sword. The nurse is taken by the creature only for Saya to save her, but the new sword she found is a fake.

The nurse and Saya track one to the air base, and manage to kill it when a gas tank explodes. Meanwhile a third monster appears. David brings Saya a new sword and they manage to take it out as well. The nurse is then interviewed by the government.

Really and truly this film is all about the animation. It beautifully combines 2D and 3D digital animation. The opening scene is a sight to behold, with quick lighting changes and a claustrophobic sense of being on a subway train. Speaking of lighting, it’s beautifully rendered. Contrasts of light and dark and shadows of in between shades add to the horror that is going on. The animation is similarly of high quality with few if any errors. The colors have a sepia tone to them, indicating this takes place in the past as well as enhancing the horror atmosphere. The atmosphere conveys a sense of immediacy. Saya and David need to kill these things now, or lose the opportunity. The nurse witness to all the horror, and the shattering of her reality at the realization these things exist.

Another strong point to Blood is the decisions made with the dialog. To be honest, there is not a lot of it going on. The story generally unfolds visually with the dialog supporting the comings and goings on the screen. But the choice to use both English and Japanese is really intelligent. It really puts the viewer on a military base from another country. When dealing with the military and school, English is primarily spoken. When in town, or one Japanese is speaking to another, Japanese is spoken. The fact that the voice actor playing Saya, Youki Kudo, is able to speak both languages fluently is pretty spectacular given the large linguistic differences between English and Japanese.

There is one big problem with Blood though: it is only 45 minutes long. While the story as it is is entertaining, it definitely lacks depth. There is only so much you can cram in that time, and Blood rightfully chooses to use that time for the action/horror, and not on character development. So the plot is mostly run around and kill things. It does this very effectively, but if someone is looking for a deep plot line exploring, say the fear of the unknown manifested as these creatures, one will be sorely disappointed.

Despite the major short coming of a shallow plot, Blood is thoroughly enjoyable as long as expectations are tempered. It is not deep. There is no character growth. What it does do is give a non-stop ride of action and horror. It also is a great work of animation combining both 2D and 3D digital animation. And as mentioned, the voice work, especially for Saya is really good. Give Blood: The Last Vampire a shot. It is short enough (45 minutes) and shallow enough to throw in after a long day and watch without being too heavily invested, but is engaging enough to want to watch.

 

Directed By: Hiroyuki Kitakubo

Produced By: Yukio Nagasaki, Ryuji Mitsumoto

Written By: Kenji Kamiyama

Starring: Saya- Youki Kudo, David- Joe Romersa, Nurse- Saemi Nakamura

Distributed By: Sony Pictures Entertainment

 

Release Date: July 29, 2000

Rating: NR (though not suitable for children)

Run Time: 45 minutes

 

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