Blood C – The Last Dark (Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD/BD Combo (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 106 minutes approx.
Tokyo is currently under the strict rule of a shady organisation known only as Tower, run by the seemingly untouchable puissant magnate Fumito Nanahara, who has imposed strict limitations on the internet and a curfew for minors. The youth of this great metropolis are not taking this lying down with a small group of computer hacking rebels named SIRRUT dedicated to bring Tower down, although seeking its location and information about it is committed task. During a train journey home one night SIRRUT member Mana Hiiragi is accosted by a rampaging, flesh eating man mutant but is thankfully saved by a girl dressed in a dark blue school uniform, brandishing a slim but razor sharp katana. The members of SIRRUT are grateful to this stoic saviour, whom they already recognise as Saya Kisaragi, and recruit her to aid in their fight against Tower.
Blood C – The Last Dark is a continuation of the Blood C TV series which ended on a rather open note, although any intentions on providing closure to the main story and themes here are somewhat undermined by virtue of them being largely ignored. What this film does achieve however is to return Saya back to the no nonsense, unemotional vampire slaying warrior we all know and love, leaving behind the memories of the sweet natured but ditzy Saya we met in the TV series. Despite retaining her ludicrously long pigtails, the Saya we see here is very much in the mould of the one who debuted in 2000’s seminal Blood – The Last Vampire mini movie – right down to the absence of glasses and the familiar sailor suit uniform – which should please the old school fans put off by CLAMP’s twee redesign.
The film gets off to an impressive start with the aforementioned train assault, leaving us with little doubt that this is to be one gory outing – the first act of violence sees a man having his face chewed off! In a tribute to the famous opening scene of the first Blood film, Saya chase her foe along the carriages before he grabs Mana and flees, with Saya in hot pursuit. The animation in this sequence is a superb example of when CGI and 2D blend perfectly and is a treat for fans watching in HD. Having slain the mutant, Saya and Mana are whisked away by SIRRUT members Shun Fujimura and Iori Matsuo who take them back to SIRRUT headquarters. Saya is introduced to the group’s leader, wheelchair bound Kuroto Mogari, who has a personal grudge against Nanahara for killing his family. Other group members include lolicon computer hacker Hiro Tsukiyama, who can operate two keyboards simultaneously with her hands and feet!
Mogari explains that Tower have been involved in human experiments which have turned many into the flesh craving beast Saya faced while others simply died. Much to her surprise, Saya learns that she too was part of this experiment but survived due to her vampiric powers, discovering that Nanahara was to blame for the horrors that befell her family. With the seeds of vengeance firmly planted and the full support of SIRRUT, Saya agrees to take part in the bringing down of Nanahara and Tower.
So far, so good. However, much like its predecessor, this film suffers from pacing issues which do more harm than good. After the adrenaline rush of the opening sequence, things pretty much grind to a halt as the SIRRUT team are introduced and the storyline/character exposition is laid out for us. We have to wait until almost the hour mark before or next burst of violent action, in which Saya – undercover as a (guess what?) schoolgirl – does battle with a hideous tentacled beast. Obviously story development is necessary but the absolute lack of musical soundtrack in these segments and the unhurried pace makes for a rather dull viewing experience. Saya doesn’t say much while Mana simple follows her around like an obedient puppy. A subtly suggested Sapphic frisson between pair brings with it some nudity as the girls take a bath together. It’s not relevant to the plot but then again, fan service rarely is.
Where the story falls flat is having plenty of build up and little satisfactory pay off. Because Nanahara is such an elusive and private fellow little is known about him and he rarely appears, making him a less fearsome antagonist than he should be for someone with such incredible influence that he can control one of the world’s most powerful capital cities! The final act sees things take a surreal turn which brings with it a deus ex machina plot twist that again fails to resolve anything, leading to a showdown that is the epitome of an anti-climax.
On the whole and with the increased budget, Production IG’s visuals cannot be faulted and those watching the Blu-ray will find their eyeballs are in for a treat. While the opening scene, as mentioned before, shows how CG and 2D can work in tandem, the final scene sadly doesn’t with an impressively rendered CG beastie that clashes badly with 2D Saya. With much of the setting being at night the bright neon colours of Tokyo are lovingly recreated with great effect while there are no restrictions of the gore front, allowing the animators to have some unbridled fun. The character designs again by CLAMP have been toned down considerably from the TV series, especially Saya’s, which spares this film from looking too “cartoony”, recalling the aesthetics of the original Blood film in that respect.
If ever there was a case against over thinking a simple idea Blood C – The Last Dark would be Exhibit A. It looks great and delivers on the action on violence front but the story tries too hard to do more than it needs to with both its concept and its iconic main character. It promises much but will leave the die hard fans wanting more. Less angst and more ass kicking next time please!
Dolby True HD: English Language 5.1
Dolby True HD: Japanese Language 2.0
US Actor and Staff Commentary
NoNeNoNe Theatre parts 1-6
Ratings – ***
Man In Black