I went to the store to pick up a copy of the Akira DVD, and a copy of Blood: The Last Vampire was next to it. I'm not a Vampire-genre fan, but the storyline sounded interesting, and since it was an Oshii film, I figured it would be worth a look.
The first thing I thought when the movie was over was, "Ummm, where's the rest?"
The packaging said it was an 83 minute run-time. Blood ended just after 45 minutes. Digging around the menus and the scene access screens showed nothing to indicate that this was just the first part of the story.
Hopefully, this is not an indication of a shift in the industry. When I see that it's 83 minutes, I expect to see 83 minutes, including credits. If they want to just lump the extras (like the included 21-minute Making Of video) into the running time, this would be a bad trend. Besides, 45 minutes + 21 minutes = 66 minutes, which still does not add up, unless you include the video ads for other Manga titles.
Forty-five minutes does not allow the storyline to develop. The story has merits, but they never come to fruition. It's like coming into a theatre 15 minutes into the movie and leaving 15 minutes before it ends; you can sense that something important is missing, but you can't put your finger on it.
The only reason to buy this DVD is the visuals. The female lead (Saya) is particularly well-done, and the other "hidden" stars of this short are the background images. The CGI was helped by an impressive texture artist. Some of the shots were easy to spot as CGI, but I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the other shots were not hand-drawn. It can be very difficult to blend traditional with computer, and having a gratuitous CGI scene is as obnoxious as a gratuitous sex or breast scene. The Team did an exceptional job with the blending and the visuals, and this short will be the one remembered in the future as the trend-setter. The bar on visuals have certainly been raised.
Sound-wise, the short was very punchy and clear. The addition of a real score instead of the "J-Pop" tunes really helped to separate Blood from the crowd. The music helped create the moods, and they were non-intrusive. Some other folks didn't like the shifting between Japanese and English; I personally enjoyed it. Since it was a Japanese girl on an American base in Japan, it made sense not to have everyone magically speaking the same language.
The packaging has a picture of Saya on the cover, and it's a bad shot at that. I almost didn't purchase this DVD because I thought it was going to be second-rate animation. Luckily I read the back before putting it down. The menus are OK, but I didn't like the distorted scene access windows. Manga added their typical list of spam to the disc, which may round out the rest of the missing time on the DVD.
This is one of those animes that people will be talking about in the future. You should at least rent it to see the short once. If you're a fan of fine anime visuals, you'll probably want to buy it.
Equipment used when writing this review:
Toshiba DVD, Proscan projection TV, Pioneer sound, Yamaha speakers. Oh, and half a bowl of popcorn (the other half was thrown at the TV when it ended at 45 minutes).