BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE (2000) – The Dungeon Review!

As much as I love Japanese horror, exploitation and action films my foray into Japanese animation is sparse. The only reason I can cite for this is Pokémon. A few years ago I stayed with my sister and her family. At the time my nephew was hugely into Pokémon. He had a bunch of these Pokémon movies which would have been easy enough to avoid normally. There is nothing normal in my world about a three hour car drive to the cottage with a nine year old and a five year old. Three hours of Pokémon videos with commentary no less! Whose freaking idea was it to put TVs in minivans?! Evil sons of bitches! Hearing the kids fight would have been so much more tolerable than this. Each time a new Pokémon character came on the screen my nephew would comment on their ability. Something along the lines of “oh that’s a fire Pokémon and he’s plus ten and everyone has to go to the graveyard”…blah…blah…I love you kid but what the hell are you going on about?! Yeah, apparently there is a Pokémon card game. Pokémon may very well be the dumbest most irritating animated show I’ve ever seen! My god those voices!! Those horrible voices and sounds the various characters make are like nails on a chalkboard! I knew good and bloody well that Pokémon did not represent Japanese animation as a whole, but those voices! Those awful shrieking voices! I should also add that I have seen very few animated films from any country. The only animated films I ever seen growing up was what they showed on The Wonderful World of Disney. We went to the theatre and drive-in tons when I was a kid but I don’t remember seeing a single animated movie. I loved cartoons so I’m surprised I never begged to see this or that animated movie. Maybe I just don’t remember?! Anyway, animation as a whole is a bit of a gaping wound in my movie-watching experience. I bought an outdated book of animation on DVD dirt cheap and consulted with my friend Jason over at Genkina Hito’s J-Film Reviews who gave me a list of animated Japanese films. My video store only had a small collection of Anime; in fact they had just two titles from Jason’s list. Blood: The First Vampire was one of them.

Saya is a vampire hunter sent undercover to a school on an American air base. More accurately she is a chiropterans hunter (I don’t think they ever used the word vampire in this film). The school is believed to be educating two chiropterans which Saya quickly deduces to be a particularly anaemic student and her friend. Saya efficiently dispatches one of the chiropterans as the school nurse looks on in horror. The mysterious chiropteran assassin Saya may have more in common with her monstrous mark than it might appear.

The choice to set the film during the Vietnam War was an interesting one but of little significance to the story. I thought it was pretty clear where Blood: The First Vampire was going early. It is called Blood: The First Vampire after all! The problem was taking 3/4 of its runtime getting there. Saya’s true nature is revealed at the 3/4 point which is where I expected the adventure to begin. Instead of the adventure beginning however it came to an abrupt end. The build-up is certainly energetic enough and the time it takes to get to Saya’s story is reasonable for your average 90 minutes film. Blood: The First Vampire however was less than an hour. According to IMDB the film is 48 minutes long! I am mystified by this! Blood: The Last Vampire’s supporting characters are non-entities really except for the wishy-washy school nurse. Fortunately the Saya character is the focal point and she is sassy and intriguing. Saya is a woman of few words with a hell of a scowl. Saya has large attitude and outstanding skills with a Katana. The animation is beautiful. It has a lovely dark gothic look and the backgrounds were quite impressive. It was nice that Saya wasn’t drawn with an 8 inch waist and double Ds and I loved the air of mystery and strength her character possessed. Blood: The Last Vampire really is just an impressive film in every aspect where the visuals are concerned. Like I long-windedly indicated, my animation exposure is limited, but Blood: The Last Vampire is one of the most attractive animated films I’ve seen.

Blood: The Last Vampire is a striking visual experience but its story disappointed me; it basically ends as it was beginning to intrigue me. You certainly won’t be bored as the film is ridiculously short and absolutely flies by. In the case of Blood: The Last Vampire that isn’t necessarily a good thing; the film seemed in desperate need of a longer runtime! Blood: The Last Vampire is nonetheless an enjoyable watch. Recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Hiroyuki Kitakubo

Starring: Youki Kudoh, Saemi Nakamura, Joe Romersa, Rebecca Forstadt, Stuart Robinson, Akira Koteyama, Tom Fahn, Fitz Houston, Steve Blum, Paul Carr

17 Responses to “BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE (2000) – The Dungeon Review!”

  1. Fair review. Caught Blood when it first came out, and I agree with your assessment.

    When it comes to anime my personal favorite is Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s Wicked City (1987): Kawajiri is best known for Ninja Scroll (1993), which Jason probably recommended you, as it’s one of the greatest anime movies ever along with Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira (1988). Another Kawajiri favorite of mine is The Running Man (1987): It’s one of three short films in Neo-Tokyo: I love all three of of the shorts (includes directors Otomo and Rintaro), but The Running Man is special. Have fun.

    • It is certainly easy on the eyes…but it was a bit of a tease. Blood is ripe for a sequel. Jason recommended both Wicked City and Ninja Scroll and a few other most intriguing titles. My library had Ninja Scroll so I put a hold on it (I am number 3 in line) ;( Thanks for the link to The Running Man…I’ll watch it on the weekend! Neo-Tokyo looks great!!!…I’ll add it to the queue!

  2. As always, a well-written review. I, too, rarely venture into the world of Japanese animation, however, Vampire Hunter D and Wicked City are both excellent selections with a strong horror vibe.

    • I’ve actually just seen Vampire Hunter D. I didn’t have my list with me and rented it instead of Blood. It was good; I would probably give it the same rating as this one. I was going to review it, but I have a bit of a review pile up at the moment! The next anime I review will probably be Perfect Blue. Wicked City is high on the list to see though.

      • Perfect Blue is excellent, I forgot about that one; you get the feeling it’s an anime attempt to do David Lynch at times but, all the same, it’s really good. I think, with that title included, that’s literally all the anime I’ve enjoyed – for whatever reason I can’t get into the wholesome stuff like Spirited Away and whatnot.

  3. Pokemon…You poor Goregirl. I feel your pain. I love Americanized Japanese cartoons that I watched as a kid such as Kimba,Marine Boy,8th Man,Gigantor and Speed Racer,but the only feature length Japanese cartoon I’ve ever seen is the U.S. version of Alakazam the Great. Despite this,wonderful review!

    • I hope I didn’t insult too many Pokemon fans! I think they make sounds only dogs and children can hear. I have an album of various bands covering cartoon theme songs and Gigantor and Speed Racer were two of the songs. It’s okay; the best thing on it is The Ramones cover of Spiderman.

      • For sure,no offense to Pokemon fans,but I watched it once,and it drove me more bonkers than I already am! Wow,The Ramones doing the Spiderman theme,I will have to check that out!

  4. I recommend Spirited Away. I’m not an anime person, so I don’t know if it counts as anime or just animation that happens to be Japanese, but it’s very good.

    • Spirited Away is one of the very few I have seen! A great story actually, I even thought it was spooky at times and the little girl is so sullen. Do we ever make family-rated films in North America like Spirited Away?

  5. I saw the live action version, it wasn’t bad 😀

  6. Great review. I would agree with your assessment about the strength of the film being the animation and the weakness being the story. I like this anime a lot because it is so brutal and brilliantly animated and Saya is such a cool character. This is the first part of a major franchise which may explain why the story is short.

    Other franchise spin-offs: Blood+ is cool after the first ten episodes while I heard Blood-C: The Last Dark is supposed to be pretty good.

    As for the live-action film… I didn’t think much of it.

    Aaww, Pokemon… What a great theme tune… I never really watched it though because I found it too childish (which means it has found the right target audience!) and I stuck to things like Roujin Z and Wings of Honneamise and this 😉

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