This film is in essence the equivalent of a short story or novelette. Not just because it is literally a short film but because it wears shortness well; it compacts a tale without ever losing meaning or pace. They say short stories are some of the most difficult to tell, and if that is true, then Blood is a tiny masterpiece.
Saya is a vampire slayer working for an unnamed organisation whose main representation in the film is her colleague/boss David. She has to root out some vampires on an American base in Japan before their killing spree gets out of hand. There is a certain predictability here which the creators did nothing to avoid and that is part of Blood's strength. It's like the recipe for a traditional sponge cake; it is undeniably a good sponge cake recipe so we don't want to ruin it by chucking in almonds. The story is streamlined, that is, it is honed and polished to such an extent that, once set loose, there is no mistaking where it's going. What makes it so satisfying is the fact that it hits its target without missing a beat and the execution is impressive. The film shows you just enough to keep you morbidly fascinated; you are shocked by how violently the victims fall prey to the demons (and the sometimes darkly humorous ways their bodies end up) but, like any guilty pleasure, you keep anxiously hoping for more.
When it first aired, Blood's animation made ripples. As is natural, it has been surpassed by newer productions over the years but despite that, retains a classically mature and understated style which looks impressive even today.
Certain character designs like David's looked very ‘scratchy', as if someone had just sketched them into the scene with a pencil, which occasionally made for awkward movements but simultaneously enhanced the eeriness of the film. Needless to say the colours used are dark throughout - even daytime is treated like the night's poor attempt to cheer up - and that suits the anime's mood just fine. There are moments of course when the film has to portray normal happy people doing normal happy things, but the muted tones alone keep you on edge and remind you that death is just around the corner. Think Claymore but grimier.
The crowning glory of this film is its action animation. The opening five minutes have no real dialogue, which makes you appreciate just what visuals can do for a film when in the right hands. The ‘shock' pacing of the first scene doesn't just set the mood but displays intelligent and engaging direction as well.
Blood went with understated realism when it came to vocals and general hubbub. One of my favourite bits of sound (yes, crazily enough, I have those) is when Saya has to climb a wire fence during a pursuit. The timing and pacing was just perfect so the clinking of the fence was eerily discordant in the muted background noise.
Although not hugely original or unique, the soundtrack to this film is epic and dark when it needs to be, with hidden tensions in the rhythm and the bass line, use of strings, use of a gong to give it some ‘spook' etc. Especially in the climactic scenes, the music carries your emotions right where they should be - quite Bond-like in places.
Vocally, I enjoyed the mixed use of English and Japanese. The movie is set in Japan and pleasingly embraces this in the voice acting e.g. announcements at the train station are Japanese dubs with English subs. The Nurse switches from Japanese to English depending on who she is talking to and she speaks in both languages to Saya, reinforcing that sense of non-patronising realism the film is going for. The voice-actors used are also very appropriate. Being a bit of a sub junkie myself, it's a rare instance when I like the English dubbing, but the creators of Blood really watched out for this film. Saya and David's voices were fantastic; their dialogue, although slow at times, mostly came across as natural, and their voices are not just suited in themselves but also suited to each other. In fact, they're so good that you don't even blink when a girl who looks 15 sounds like a 27-year old.
I said the plot shows you just enough to keep you interested, which is also very true where the characters are concerned. We know that in a film this short, there is going to be little or no character development but, rather than allow it to be a handicap, the film flaunts it with flair. Take Saya for example; by the end she has learned no lessons, gained nothing new or lost anything precious, but as viewers we learn so much about her through details tossed to us as asides in the course of dialogue or imprinted on our minds in the form of ‘incidental' events. David exclaims quite angrily to another colleague that Saya must not be pissed off because she is the last ‘original'. What does this mean? Original of what? She clearly is related to those demons in some way, but how? The ending actually suggests her feelings towards her prey to be more complex than pure antagonism, and if this is so, then why does she really hunt them? So much is revealed and yet left unsaid, like delicious morsels of the concept to gobble up, savour and interpret later as we think back over the film. So Saya doesn't grow as a person in 40 minutes. Who cares when she is so intriguing?
Blood: The Last Vampire unashamedly presents itself as what it is; moody, dark and gory. However, it manages to wrap itself in some great speculation of what more could exist in the wider context of Saya's adventure, and that is all the depth it needs to be a great 40 minute production.
The storyline is very good. It is not that original though. You don't realkly care when the action animation is as good as it is.
It feels slightly dated, but the action animation is incredible. Definitely worth 48 mins of your time just to watch that.
The music is used well, it sets the mood and tone in a way that doesn't take anything away from what is happening on screen. At no point does it become a distraction. The voices are very well done and the mix of languages is handled very well.
Not much is shown by way of character development. You get little snippets of information in off-hand conversations that the characters have with each other which leaves you wanting to know more about them. This works really well in the short film.
This is a very good film, even for it being so short. It is not good because it's short and therfore will leave you wanting more, the mark of a good production.
Story: Blood: The Last Vampire was a mixed bag for me- I have to say when I watched it, it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. I'd heard a lot of good things surrounding this anime, but it did not fulfil my expectations.
The story of this anime is very, VERY vague and mysterious. Showing you what you presume is a normal, average stage in Saya the vampires life, it takes you through the stages of her job- killing fellow vampires. So many questions arose from this film, such as why is Saya killing off her own kind? Why is she said to be the last remaining ''original'' vampire? Who even IS she? But none of these were answered- something I found extremely irritating.
Also, the actual storyline wasn't exactly what you'd call spectacularly original- It was pretty simple, almost anyone could make it up. Sure, it was still entertaining to some point, but I still found myself drifting off at times.
As for the ending? I saw no point in it. The school nurse, a poor woman unintentioanlly stuck in all this vampire-hunting business, survives a vampire attack on the local high school where she works. With Saya now gone, the films conclusion involves her looking at the cross around her neck and talking about God and other religious principles till the ending credits flash up. I thought this such an odd and unfitting ending, I found myself fastforwarding through the whole of the credits, sure there must be something else at the end, but there wasn't. The ending, to me anyway, was so weird and random. It made little sense.
Animation: For the year it was made, Blood's animation is pretty good. The action, blood an gore are very life-like and gruesome. But the faces and expressions I thought at times looked a little...unusual. The first speech Saya makes in the film comes out of her mouth, a mouth what isn't even moving. This killed the creepy mood of the film instantly and just made me laugh since it looked so weird. Characters also looked unintentionally ugly because of things like this- the vampire girl from the school who was ill I thought looked so unusual it was like she was some demented character from a cartoon or something.
Sound: Sound wasn't used very much in Blood- but when it was used it worked well. A variety of creepy noises and tunes were used and they all conveyed the correct moods.
Characters: Saya was a complete mystery, which some may like, but for me it was a frustration. I'm fine with mystery characters if you actually discover more about them by the end of the film, but you never found out anything about her, there were more holes and gaps in this film than there were complete parts.
The nurse irritated me for some reason I can't quite place. Sure, she didn't go around screaming ALL of the time, she wasn't completely over-the-top in how she acted, but there was just something about her what frustrated me.
All other characters were hardly even named- just given about 2 minutes of screen time before they either dissappearred for no reson or were killed.
Overall: I can see why this is popular, but if you're a kind of person who likes mysteries to be solved by the end of the feature, then this isn't for you.
I wonder if this takes the cake for "shortest movie I've ever seen." But in all seriousness. I wasn't going to watch this, but since it's so short, I said, "What the heck," and lo and behold. Plus, I've been wanting to watch "Blood+" for a while.
Story: Saya is a woman. She kills these creatures with a sword. She then goes to a school near an army base... and... um...
Yeah, if you couldn't tell, the story of this is EFFING CONFUSING. I had no freaking clue what was going on until about half way through the thing, and even then I was like WTF. The English (yes, ENGLISH, not engrish) confused me, the killings confused me, everything confused me! I mean, I never even figured out that it represents war until the last five minutes of the movie!
On the other hand, the first few minutes of the movie are almost as shock value-like as the first few minutes of "Elfen Lied:" The story of it, the music and the art just work together to make a heart-pounding opener. I won't give away the ending, though, but I will talk about the credits. Watch them. You may have to blink back tears, but you should watch them. They are gorgeous.
Animation: Disturbingly realistic faces match the photorealistic backgrounds which match the eerie tone of the movie. But I need to explain further, because "realistic" does not necessarily equal "disturbing." The mouths are drawn with lips and everything, which is pretty unusual for an anime, unless you count those sensual bishies who wouldn't touch this movie with a ten-foot pole. Teeth are outlined one by one, which makes the viewer feel very uneasy. But it's the splatters of blood which really bring this movie to life, for me. Smears of blood cover walls, or a trail of it splashes lightly into a puddle on the floor. Combine this with detailed, moody backgrounds and you get some damn incredible artwork. The sketchy animation helps this effect. It is in no way fluid, but that just fits the movie.
Sound: First and foremost: Even if you listen to this movie in the original Japanese dub, most of the movie is in English. It is very well pronounced, but some of the English sounds better than others. For example, David's talking sounds fluid; the nurse's is very choppy and sounds acted. There is a good amount of suspenseful music which sounds straight out of any thriller, but it sets the mood well. The other sounds, such as the clanging of a fence or roar of a train, are done beautifully.
Characters: You don't expect to get much character development in a 45 minute movie, but there is so little it really is disappointing. The characters themselves are few. Saya, our heroine, kills with reckless abandon and is strong and silent for the majority of the film. David is your typical sidekick. They could have done so much more with his character. The only other person worth a mention is the nurse. She kind of got on my nerves, what with her naivete. I get how shocked she was, but SERIOUSLY. Also, everyone seemed very disjointed; there were no relationships or dynamics between characters.
Overall: A nice watch, but it is really an "animation and sound" kind of movie. "Blood: The Last Vampire" is actually almost worth it just because of its stunning animation and sounds. By the way, if the ending manages to make you want to flip a table, there is a sequel (at least I THINK it's a sequel) called "Blood+."