Blood: the Last Vampire (anime, 2000) was originally a short animation by Production I.G. (most famous for the anime Ghost in the Shell) that was attempting to mix traditional animation techniques with CGI. If you go into this movie without knowing that you’ll find the plot severely lacking. Once you know this you have to throw your mind back to when this anime was made and realize that a lot of what you are seeing on screen had never been seen before. Then this little movie is pretty amazing.
It’s like watching the Matrix now. You’ve seen a bunch of movies using the same techniques so the original movie that did it seems less impressive. You have to somehow have to force yourself to forget seeing the same techniques in recent movies and imagine seeing things for the first time. It’s mind blowing.
In the anime Saya, the main character, shows up, does her job, and leaves. Really, there isn’t much more to it. They don’t explain how she got into her current predicament. They don’t explain much about the organization she works for. They don’t indicate if she would rather be doing something else, but she is all round grumpy. This is just a day at the office, but the office is a sword plus monsters face.
There was enough there and a solid fan base so a live action adaptation was made in 2009. I went into that with a lot of trepidation because they needed to fill in another 40 minutes to make a full movie.
There were a couple of ways they could do this. The safest would be to just add more demons for her to fight. It probably would get boring, but it was technically the safest option. They could kill the same amount of demons as in the animation, but make the fights last longer. This is risky but has a certain appeal. Then you get into the more Hollywood feeling options. Add in a love interest, fill in her backstory, examine her motivations or have her take on the very organization she works for.
They went with filling in her backstory, which is a sensible course of action, but you know that every fan had their own theory that they consider better than whatever actually got made.
At least the creators were conservative with what they did. Everyone she knows basically gets killed and she becomes a vampire. I know that sounds like a spoiler, but I think anyone who sat down for 2 minutes to come up with something could have written that, so I don’t feel too bad.
In the animation Saya very grudgingly protects the school nurse. At one point she says “You’re lucky I’m not allowed to hurt you.” Which is part of the appeal. It is really clear that there is something holding her back from murdering anyone who even slightly annoys her. In the live action movie the nurse is replaced with a schoolgirl who becomes a kind of confidant. At least they didn’t shoehorn in a love story as it doesn’t match the character at all.
Blood: The Last Vampire isn’t significantly better budgeted than other gore movies I have reviews, but it certainly surpasses its limitations. I’m not saying it deserves any awards, but the animation is worth watching when you understand what it is and the live action movie is worth watching because, a) it’s not a bad movie, and b) it’s interesting to see what they did with the material.
You probably don’t want to watch them both in the same night, but you definitely want to watch them close enough together to be able to compare the two.