It is 1966 and not much is known about the demanding Saya, other than that she is quite young, prefers to carry a katana and slices and dices some very unsavoury things, working in the employ of some shadowy organisation. Oh, and she’s also what they’ve dubbed, “the last original”.
Her mission is simple. Identify, locate and destroy the monstrous, murderous, blood-sucking bat-like creatures known as Chiropterans.
And did we mention she is rather violent?
This 45 minute short feature film was released way back in 2000 and remains one of the crowning achievements for the powerhouse that is Production I.G., as it marked the first time a Japanese studio produced an anime almost entirely in English with Japanese subtitles, priming it for deeper penetration outside of Japan’s borders. Directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo, Blood: The Last Vampire is a completely original concept, not coming from some or other existing anime or manga series.
Set around the American Yokota Air Base located in post-World War II Japan and just before the Vietnam War, the film tells the story of a mysterious girl charged with destroying rather monstrous creatures called chiropterans. Because of its short length, don’t expect much by the way of character development, but rather sit back and enjoy the fluid animation, violence and a piece of work that just exudes style and flair.
It is a dark story with a lot of violence and death, but it is masterfully executed, even when you boil it done and realise that all you have sat done and watched is one extended fight scene between a girl with a sword, three bat creatures and one witness who believes she may just be going mad.
Visually Blood: The Last Vampire is simply divine. A muted color palette highlights a very strong main protagonist and Katsuya Terada’s character designs are all completely spot on for this horror tale.
The animation is very fluid and detailed, and as such, there is almost nothing you can fault it on – it is just that damn good! Part of this is of course thanks to the steady hand of animation director Kazuchika Kise and more importantly, the exclusive use of digital animation rather than the time honoured tradition of animation cels. This means that the entire movie was inked, colored and then animated with computers, one of the main reasons behind its distinctive sleek look.
As for voices, Youki Kudo reprises the role of Saya, fitting the character like a glove. Likewise, Joe Romersa fits the role of the handler David perfectly, making for a great sounding combination. Yoshihiro Ike is responsible for the music and manages to come up with the perfect score balance between dramatic and action, resulting in a fantastic aural experience.
In summary, despite its relatively short length, Blood: The Last Vampire is a fantastic piece of work, both beautiful to watch and enjoyable to take it. It is blood-soaked action of the highest quality and thus most deserving of its status as an anime legend!