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BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE
Blu-ray Edition

Film review by Alex Haberstroh
Technical specs by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Youki Kudoh
Director: Hiroyuki Kitakubo 
Audio:  DTS HD 5.1

Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Anchor Bay
Features:  See Review
Length:  44 minutes
Release Date:  November 26, 2009

“Don’t you ever piss her off again!” 

“But…”

“No buts!  As far as we know, she’s the only remaining original!”

“Original…?” 

Film ***1/2

Blood: The Last Vampire is a hard movie to rate.  Should it be judged for the enjoyment it provides as a blood soaked anime that keeps the viewer wide eyed for the duration, in the same company as films like From Dusk ‘Till Dawn?  Or rather, should it be criticized for raising more questions than answers before its short forty-three minutes are up?

With its short running time, its often violent nature (well, what would anyone expect out of a film with “blood” in the title? Obviously some is going to spill before the credits roll), and finally its confusing and unapologetically Kubrick-like conclusion, this film will easily find its detractors. 

It is October 1966 in Vietnam.  Even though a conflict is soon to begin that will rage into a full-scale war, a secret US organization’s biggest worry in the area is not the V.C. who will soon overrun them, but rather the demons that walk within their base.  Their only weapon is Saya, a world-weary girl of mysterious origins, who mercilessly hunts the “triopterates” down with an old samurai sword. 

True, the film is not for everyone, but that didn’t stop me from sitting wide-eyed through every moment of it.  Would I have liked it to be longer?  Sure, but only because I enjoyed the world and characters that are quickly revealed and withdrawn, like a magician showing you a trick, only to pull it away before it loses its charm. 

In all fairness, the film is merely a glimpse into its world, nothing more, nothing less.  As such, its material should be studied more for its art and style than for a thorough plot development.  In those terms, the film was a knockout.

Video ****

With a blend of anime and digital backgrounds, Blood looks quite amazing in high definition.  The computer renderings give the animation a near 3-D quality, with striking color schemes, even with the deliberately muted imagery from time to time.  Images are crisply rendered and very clean.

Audio ****

When the DVD of this movie first arrived, it actually won our annual DMC Award for Best Sound Quality.  Quite an achievement for a short animated film.  It may not replicate its triumph this year, but only because the competition is fierce.  This uncompressed DTS soundtrack still delivered everything I hoped for...it's dynamic, strong, and makes incredible full-on use of the front and rear stages and subwoofer.  There are plenty of big action scenes in its short running time, and you'll really feel like you've experienced it all up close by the time it's through.

Features **

A quite detailed Making of Blood: The Last Vampire is included.  It offers an extensive amount of information about the project and how certain problems are overcome and implemented (like the film’s incredible mixing of digital effects and traditional animation).  There is also a trailer and a "digital data" version of the film, which I looked at, and...can't really tell you what it's supposed to be.

Summary:

While certainly not for everyone, this somewhat gory film is definitely worth checking out (to buy or rent) if you’re a fan of anime.  With a reference quality transfer and audio mix, and an in depth documentary, Blood: The Last Vampire, is hard not to recommend.

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