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Blood: The Last Vampire 
Written by: on October 24th, 2004

Release Date: Japan, July 2000
Director: Hiroyuki Kitakubo
Writers: Kenji Kamiyama, Katsuya Terada
Created By: Production I.G.
Cast: Yôki Kudô, Saemi Nakamura, Joe Romersa, Rebecca Forstadt

DVD Released: August 1st, 2001
Approximate Running Time: 48 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
DVD Release: Manga Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95

“At Yokota Air Force Base beasts lurk within vicious killers with an appetite for blood only one woman can eliminate them …the last remaining original”Blood: The Last Vampire Liner Notes

During an otherwise quiet subterranean train ride, a youthful female unsheathes her samurai sword and downs an unassuming passenger. Later, she meets up with two black suits (David and Lewis) who explain her next objective. After an offhand remark, Louis is disciplined by David and explained that she’s an ‘original’. Placed in the Yokota high school adjoining an air force base, the school is ready to celebrate Halloween. After a brush with the school nurse and two students Sarah and Linda, she begins her investigation.

Set in 1966 during the Vietnam War, this extremely theatrical production is a masterpiece. However, to tell anymore about the story would leave little enjoyment. The packaging states ‘Program Run Time: 83 Minutes’ which is very misleading. The movie is 48 minutes long with a 4 and half minutes in credits! As you watch the film, you can’t wait what happens next, and then the credits roll. The abrupt feeling leads one to believe that the original story/script was much longer than this feature presented. It only gave enough time for a simple action movie with surface details and dialog. Because of how short this film is, I’ve held back showing the best screen shots so that you yourself can enjoy them for the very first time.

Mamoru Oshii set the standard for animation with Ghost in the Shell and improves his techniques in digital animation and cinematography once again in conjunction with Production I.G. (best known for Kill Bill, Vol. 1’s animation). With the use of Photoshop and After Effects, Cell Animation layered with numerous filters and lighting effects give the anime realism not captured before. CGI is utilized for moving background shots. Many action scenes use the shaky cam to heighten the experience and the realism. Colors create a moody environment found in contemporary movies like Seven. A twenty minute documentary goes into some surface details, describing the creation process of this short feature.

The DVD:

This presentation is a digital transfer rather than a film telecine transfer that can be found on a special edition region 2, which many would state the digital transfer is better (the original format). No artifacts whatsoever, and even if the disk is single layer, the movie comes in with an average bit rate of 7.8 bits per second. The packaging implies that it has Japanese 5.1, when there’s only an part English/Japanese stereo and 5.1 track. The audio tracks are strong and clean, very realistic to the setting. Two subtitle selections of either when Japanese is spoken or when Japanese is spoken and credits roll.

My copy of Blood: The Last Vampire came with a mini-DVD that included a music video and advertising for The Mad Capsule Markets. Touting itself as futuristic-digi-hardcore-punk-metal, its sound is somewhat unique and if you haven’t seen the video on MTV, the CGI work is amusing for at least a single viewing. If your copy of Blood doesn’t include this mini-DVD, it can also be found in Manga’s extras on the right hand side under Palm Pictures.

The DVD ROM features include two desktop wallpapers and a simple promotional screen saver, supporting both PC and Macintosh. All instructions are in Japanese, but intuitive enough for most computer users to install and use. The very basic Manga Previews are included, looking much like any other Manga release which includes bastardized trailers that have been cut to show about a dozen features. Overall, the movie isn’t worth the hype as the characters are not allowed to develop, giving more of an impression that this film is really a television mini-series. On the other hand, this presentation has strong realistic animation and the audio makes this film haunting. This surface level film is worth at least one watch, especially to those who love the Ghost in a Shell movies and series. Manga should take better care in its misleading packaging, lying to consumers as to what the DVD actually features only leaves a bitter pill in the memories of its customers./div>

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