The events in Blood C - The Last Dark take place shortly after the events of the original anime ends; for those not in the know which, besides a cursory acknowledgement of the 2009 live action movie of the series, includes me: Saya, our heroine of the piece, is a teenage school girl half vampire/half human hybrid who hunts monsters with the help of her super shiny, and way sharp, katana. So far, so awesome, right?
The obvious comparative point for Saya as a main character would be to draw parallels between her and another teenage monster hunter: Buffy Summers. To go a littler deeper with this comparison, think if Buffy were crossed with the inner turmoil of Blade; hunting your own kind, etc, and you’ve got a pretty accurate approximation of Saya.
The story itself goes beyond mere monster hunting/slaying however; thematically Blood C - The Last Dark is rich with concepts: mistrust, betrayal, teenage angst/hormones, the concept of us (youth) vs them (adults) and even delving into the pros and cons of the internet as a tool for good (hacking for freedom of information) and evil (hacking as intrusion/invasion of security,etc), especially against the backdrop of heavy censorship, enforced by an uncaring government, that is so heavily highlighted throughout the movie.
Some of the characters fall into pastiche along the way, while some provide so little to the story development they may as well not be there at all, and the sexualization of these, obviously, young characters even extends to an unnecessary nude bathing scene that consists of a conversation that could have taken place literally anywhere else in the world but the baths. It’s a shame that something like this is almost to be expected, or accepted, because, hey, it’s anime, baby; but given the strength of the themes, story and action, and the fact that it took place in one scene, it almost felt forced. Nudity for nudities sake. Once again, bearing in my mind the ages these characters are supposed to be, maaaaybe you shouldn’t be enjoying it so much now, should you? It doesn't detract so much as it distracts due to its inclusion.
The animation itself is solid work. Strong, detailed and fluid animation, especially in the, overall, well thought out action sequences are only offset slightly by the odd use of 3D for certain elements: some locations, vehicles, the final big bad and, at one point, swinging doors all opt for 3D rather than a consistent 2D style. This is especially odd when the characters inhabit a smaller 3D space, like the inside of their car, for example. Although the 3D isn’t terrible, the 2D art is so good, it’s an odd choice to want to needlessly integrate these two styles.
What’s great about this as a stand alone movie, is the way it doesn’t really matter if you’ve seen the original anime or not. They’ve done a pretty good job of filling in some of the gaps without overtly beating you over the head with endless flashbacks or exposition to explain little things in an attempt to tie it back to its source material. Does it happen occasionally? At times. But never to the point of frustration, and always in a quick and subtle fashion. Because of this, Blood C - The Last Dark plays really well as a supernatural, conspiracy movie with some awesome action set pieces. The first one, in particular, is a great way to grab an audience’s attention with the intention of never letting go.
I didn’t expect to enjoy this movie, I didn’t expect much from it and, in truth, I expected to be confused and lost as I was when watching Sengoku Basara - The Last Party, but the director and creative team have clearly made some great calls to craft a movie that, whilst respecting its lore and history, isn’t completely closed off to new comers.
Granted, if you’re a long time fan, you probably will get more out of it and its subtle nods to the anime; but if you’re not then it’s no big deal. Besides, the concept of a series that follows the exploits of a character that is a mix of Buffy The Vampire Slayer crossed with Blade, does sound undeniably bad ass.
Steve Russell // @stevetendo
Blood C - The Last Dark is out on the 24th March 2014, courtesy of Funimation & Manga Entertainment