This driven anime rips steel through flesh in the first few moments and doesn’t let up for the next 47. God bless it.
The first fully digital animation from Production IG, Blood the Last Vampire is a stylistic experiment in using 3D rendered backgrounds with 2D characters. A camera pass is rendered through the backgrounds and the animation and lighting is matched – the result not only works, it is crisp and gorgeous, particularly on DVD (albeit a dark, brooding kind of gorgeous). The action scenes are blinding, and the film is almost entirely action.
Whether there were cutbacks due to the gruelling production schedule, Blood the Last Vampire definitely feels like it is one chapter of a larger story – the DVD extras hint to a wider universe and plot threads not explored in the anime. The film has copped a lot of flak for being too short, but I have to say, for those 48 minutes this film is ON – which is more than you can say for most 90 minute efforts. Saya arrives in a shower of blood and goes out in a pall of black smoke, never overstays her welcome, and never says sorry.
The setting is a US base in Okinawa in the 1960s, and as such there are a mix of Japanese and American characters – so, basically each character speaks in the language appropriate to the scene. This gives the film a mix between Japanese and English, but that doesn’t mean it is dubbed. The result is entirely natural, and the performances are seamless. Youki Kudoh (seen in Snow Falling on Cedars and Heaven’s Burning) is particularly great as the terminally pissed-off vampire hunter Saya. The music score also pushes along the action, with a few jazz interludes.
I’ve watched Blood the Last Vampire more than any other anime in my collection – just like the organisation knows when they decide to send in Saya, you get an intense, quality hit every time.