Blood, the Last Vampire

Image of DVD cover (68k jpg)

Released by: Madman Entertainment.
Region: Four.
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 (anamorphic)
Disc 1:

Blood is a visually & aurally stunning short piece about Saya - a brooding and enigmatic person who in the first few minutes of the film has cut someone down who may, or may not, be a monster. This tone of ambiguity, menace and mystery carries throughout the piece and is capably supported by careful lighting, musical score and a deliberate scene pacing. Indeed this marks the first anime I have seen that is meticulous about shadows, lighting and their careful use in establishing mood.

All in all it is a very assured and mature piece of filmmaking. I have talked about the progression of Anime into telling more sophisticated tales with my review of Perfect Blue and Blood continues this trend albeit in a different way. Blood concentrates less on the complexity of the overall plot, which is really a fairly straight-forward fight and chase sequence, but more on mood and quite carefully placed subtle subtexts to what is going on.

Some reviewers have criticised it as being all show with no substance which I think is unfair. Blood doesn't shove the motivation and reasons in your face but instead hints at them and shows them in the actions of the characters. I would point anyone who doubts Blood's complexity to watch the sequence after Saya kills the flying monster. This clearly shows the conflict she has about what she does. Other non-verbal clues are dropped throughout the sequence so that while we can't be completely sure a strong picture about the characters is formed.

Not to mention this is the point of Blood - it is about unease and dread, the realisation that monsters walk amongst us and can be very hard to spot - should you even want to.

Much to my delight the R4 release of the DVD is excellent. We get the same features as the R1 release with the added bonus of a PAL transfer with the slight edge that gives in vertical resolution. It being a fully digital transfer (rather than digitised from a telecine transfer) there are absolutely no discernable image problems. Everything is simply there as it is meant to be. Even better the transfer is an anamorphic one so those of us watching on a widescreen TV get an anime that takes advantage of it.

The bar has been raised by this anime in no uncertain terms with the production value rivalling that of conventional film. If you can handle a great deal more subtlety than you might be used to in anime then have no reservations about getting this one. It will no doubt be the measuring stick for anime to come. Possibly the highest praise I can give it is that now that I have had a taste of Saya and the world she moves in I can't wait for further tales of her exploits to be released.

Philip R. Banks
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