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1 review, 1 rating

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Blood-C: The Last Dark
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by Jay Seaver

"Hopefully you've been following along."
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2012 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: I wouldn't recommend seeing "Blood-C: The Last Dark" at all, but above all else, do not go in to see this movie cold. Seriously, don't do it. I am pretty sure that this would be a tiresome excuse for a movie with overly frantic action, a protagonist completely devoid of personality, and a laughable finale even if I had seen "Blood: The Last Vampire" recently or had picked up any of the multimedia tie-ins between then and now, but not having the "Blood" mythology in one's back pocket doesn't help.

The film opens with a couple of men stalking Mana Hiragi on the subway. They hulk out into vampire-on-steroids monsters and corner her at the station, only to find Mana probably wasn't the one they should be concerned about; Saya Kisaragi (voice of Nana Mizuki) was also riding that train, and Saya is a vampire-human hybrid who has been fighting monsters for far longer than the school uniform she wears implies. It turns out that Mana is part of a team investigating these "Elder Bairns"; this "Sirrut" group believes that they are connected to industrialist Fumito Nanahara (voice of Kenji Nojima).

Nanahara also seems to have something to do with draconian curfew laws in Tokyo that affect the teen-age heroes. To be fair, the filmmakers do a decent job of laying out just enough mythology that a new or lapsed fan can grasp the important elements without smothering the audience with exposition, at least on average. After all, while Blood has amassed a fair amount of details, the broad strokes are familiar enough - long-lived vampires gathering power behind the scenes, their victim/creation seeking revenge, the time to unleash an occult force of unspeakable power drawing nigh.

On the other side, there's a band of underground fighters that are ragtag despite being funded by a billionaire of their own. Driver Matsuo Ieri does things like scream about not thinking they can trust Saya when she's standing right there, Saya is blank and affectless wel past the point when it's intriguing, and just to be extra-special lame, there are three characters described as "hackers". You know what is exciting cinema about watching hackers working? Nothing. The closest thing they do to being cool is when there's a shot of the youngest working a second keyboard with her toes. Aside from that, their main accomplishment is being tricked into walking Saya into an obvious trap.

Despite all that, it's not hard to see how Blood became something of a phenomenon in the first place: The animation is, by and large, quite good; both human characters and monsters have designs that tell the audience all they need to know at a glance, and Production IG's work is smooth. Even the action scenes, which occasionally fall into the quick-cut "slash too fast to see then stand dramatically by/over falling corpse" mode, can still be quite thrilling when director Naoyoshi Shiotani slows down and lets the audience see the lay of the land and what's going on; a well-matched soundtrack by Naoki Sato helps. At least, until the rather disappointing finale, when a digitally-rendered monster doesn't mesh with the traditionally-drawn Saya at all.

Now, to a large extent, "Blood-C: The Last Dark" is probably not meant to be seen as a stand-alone film, but as the climax to the "Blood-C" animated series from a year before and a special event for those been following the series in all its incarnations for the past dozen years. Those folks probably don't need much of a recommendation one way or the other, although I suspect that even they may be disappointed, as there are certainly weaknesses that have little to do with not knowing what came before.

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originally posted: 09/13/12 13:08:18
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2012 series, click here.

User Comments

3/07/13 M.J. This review stinks, since JS mention "Last Vampire" I knew all critic-cliches that follows. 4 stars
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Directed by
  Naoyoshi Shiotani

Written by
  Junichi Fujisaku
  Nanase ‘kawa

  Nana Mizuki
  Misato Fukuen

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