Blood, Guts, & Asians: Blood: The Last Vampire (2000 & 2009)

When the anime movie Blood: The Last Vampire came out in 2000, it spawned the manga series Blood: The Last Vampire 2000, a trilogy of light novels, the anime series Blood, video games, and most recently, a live-action film of the same name.

While the anime film and the live-action film share the same name, they’re completely different movies.  Different actors, different directors, different producers. The plots and settings start out relatively similar, but the live-action film veers off into its own story.

Blood: The Last Vampire anime film is a short piece – 48 minutes long.  The main protagonist is Saya – a young girl who hunts demons called chiroptera.  She doesn’t have much to say and doesn’t seem very happy, but she knows how to use a sword.  She’s sent to a school on an American Air Force base in Japan to seek out some of the chiroptera.

The animation is very well done and quite beautiful – Blood: The Last Vampire won many awards for its use of CGI back when it was released.  There are several cut scenes that highlight realistic details, such as the sweat building up on the face of a clarinet player at a party.  The movie itself is dark and tense. I admire the demon design, especially the transition from human to demon form.  Due to its length there isn’t much time to have meaningful dialogue or flesh out a backstory, and I’m okay with that.  I knew the basics of what was going on and a little more was revealed at the end.  It’s longer than the average short, but not quite the feature length film.  It’s a short story.  It was enough for me to concentrate on the animation and the occasional blood splatter.  The only distracting negative, and to be honest a huge part of the movie, is the nurse character.  I suppose she was there to serve as a foil – to show human weakness and to contrast Saya’s curt, no-nonsense personality, but she just annoyed me.  She was too weak and too distressed – she should have died.  And I’m a terrible person.

The live-action Blood: The Last Vampire came out 9 years after the original.  It stars Gianna Jun (better known as Jun Ji-hyun) as Saya.  I was completely surprised to see Gianna in this role since she’s more well-known for romantic Korean movies such as My Sassy Girl and Il Mare. But she plays Saya quite well giving the character more sympathy but still kicking ass.

As previously mentioned, the live-action Blood: The Last Vampire is quite different from the original anime film.  The first scene is  set in the Tokyo Metro (just as in the original) and Saya goes undercover in a school on an American Air Force base (just as in the original) but then the similarities stop.  The live-action movie is very much a Hong Kong film –  the movie focuses on the action – fighting, jumping around, and CGI blood.  Lots of CGI blood.

Saya is half-human and half-vampire.  She hunts demons/vampires and, in particular, she’s searching for the oldest and most powerful vampire, Onigen.  Saya hesitantly works for “The Council” who supply her with weapons, information, and blood.  They also clean up the dead vampires after she deals with them.  After fighting off the vampires in the school, she inadvertently gets a sidekick.  An American girl who replaces the annoying nurse in the anime.  The American girl was clearly used to reach a wider audience . . . or something.  She’s somewhat annoying but not completely useless; so she’s more tolerable.  Together they find their way to Onigen while battling hoards of vampires and avoiding some asshats from “The Council.”

The CGI in the movie isn’t very impressive.  They use an exorbitant amount of CGI blood and the CGI demons are meh.  The highlights of movie are Saya (Love Gianna Jun!) and Onigen.  Onigen is just so damn beautiful. 

The live-action Blood: The Last Vampire is not a great movie but it’s entertaining. 

Do I like one movie more than the other?  Not necessarily.  It would depend on what I’m in the mood for.  If I wanted a dark and gritty anime, then I’d want to see the original.  If I wanted gravity-defying action, then the live-action movie is the way to go.

The anime Blood: The Last Vampire is available on DVD and Blu-ray.  The live-action Blood: The Last Vampire is also available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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About Tiney

Crazy Japanese school girl? Close, but not so much. More like crazy Chinese editor-turned-writer who may or may not have a couple of Japanese school uniforms in her closet. Tiney's hobbies include playing video games, sewing and costuming, crocheting miniature Cthulhus, and preparing for the coming zombie apocalypse. If you get cornered... bash them in the head, that seems to work.