Blood should have been made in Hollywood. It is the perfect example of what the film industry has degraded to. While visually stunning and scored with striking and emotional music, it lacks any character development at all. None. Zilch. Nada. There is, literally, more character and setting info at the movie's website than there is in the film itself.

Blood is a champion of the Japanese art form of animated film making. It's touted as the first all digital animation product, and the quality of the artistic team shows. The 2D animation is seamlessly blended with the CGI objects that comprise the majority of backgrounds and foreground objects. The sets are wonderfully lit and the use of warm exterior colors exquisitely blanket the surroundings in the soft blanket of a setting Japanese sun. The lip-synching is exceptionally accurate for an animated film produced in a country where, more often than not, the voice track is recorded after the animation is produced. I can't say enough good things about the artistic direction of this film.

None of that makes up for the films appalling lack of story. Even Jerry Bruckheimer would have included more character development. The main character, Saya, is a sultry little number who kills demons with a single blow of her well-crafted sword and refuses to socialize with anyone. She never duels with her opponents and clearly outmatches them in virtually every confrontation. She is particularly agitated by the mention of god. Why? Who knows? Her violent aversion to Christianity is never explained. We are told that she is the "last of the originals." Last of the original what? Who knows? Once again it's never explained. The website would have you believe that she is mixed up somehow with a failed "eternal life" experiment. Something to do with cross-breeding vampires and demons, although the word 'vampire' is never uttered on screen nor is any mention made of this experiment or the nature of vampires in this pretend universe. Unfortunately we are never told if she is the product of this experiment or its genesis.

And what of the setting? It's clear that the story is set on Yokota air base in Japan, but no indication of a time frame is given other than the vehicles used by the characters and seen in the background. Despite the websites claim that the Vietnam conflict is an important background event for the story, it isn't until the very last scene that any mention of Vietnam is made, and even then only in passing. I was left feeling that the setting was relatively unimportant and only existed to provide an excuse for a katana-swinging teenage hottie in a Japanese schoolgirl outfit.

I'm sure very little of this is the fault of the script writer. I'm convinced that whoever came up with the brilliantly original and not at all clichéd idea of a teenage vampire fighting other vampires at the behest of a concerned American government agency had many more brilliant ideas under his/her/demon hat. The film clocked in at 48 minutes and that was simply too long to hold the attention of a generation of Nintendo-buzzed otaku and teenage vampire freaks itching to paint their nails and write poetry about 'darkness.' 48 minutes was just enough time to include all the really important action scenes.

It isn't until the very end of the film that we glimpse a smidgen, nay a dash even, of back story. During a debriefing interview, a witness is asked to identify Saya in a photograph that is labeled '1892' and 'vampire.' Duh-duh duhhh! That's the cliffhanger folks. And then it's over. I was left sifting through the DVD menus believing that, like some other anime I had received, this was simply the first in a series of episodes included on this or another disc. No such luck I'm afraid; this was it, and I felt cheated.

It looked like such a cool flick, and I wanted to like it so much, but I just couldn't. I've gotten more cathartic satisfaction out of a rerun of ALF. I'm not usually one to trash movies. I like just about anything. Hell, I count Hudson Hawk as one of my favorite films. Blood is really bad though, and wouldn't have even made it to video if it hadn't been animated in Japan.