The movie of an average but gory series gives a character rearrangement to its lead, some gorgeous animation and monster designs, but ultimately suffers due to having the same problem as the series – predictability and it isn’t that interesting when reaching the conclusion.
What They Say :
Saya is part human, part monster, and has one thing on her mind revenge. Visions of twisted experiments and creatures slaughtering everyone she loved fuel her thirst for vengeance. With blade in hand and rage boiling in her veins, she tracks her tormentor to Tokyo, where flesh-hungry beasts have begun to feed. There, she joins a group of young hackers hunting for the same man. As Saya slices her way through lies, traps, flesh, and bone, how much blood will she shed to cut down the mastermind behind her madness.
Set in 5.1 Dolby Surround sound in both English and Japanese, like most movie releases this really showcases how good this was when originally realized in Japan. Both tracks are excellent as listened to half the movie in English and half in Japanese – there was no issues with the subtitles in sync with the audio and visual format. Set in widescreen, the animation was very fluid and the action sequences meant it was a great visual sequence as well(especially with the monsters appearing). However, this was the first movie release I noticed there was some blurriness when it came to pausing the movie with the animation appearing to be stretched. A minor issue maybe but it does showcase the quality in the transition is a bit dulled. Otherwise in motion however it is excellent.
Menu is quite basic with a nice image of Saya looking quite badass on the right, with the selection choices below and centre of Play Feature, Scenes, Set Up and Extras. All easily selectable but with the extras I noticed that it was slow in selection for some reason – main menu not so much of an issue but was quite noticeable. No probs switching from the movie to menu, but overall not really excited to look at and very basic, plus with some noticeable delay on some of the menus as well.
Quite a few extras for the movie release. The main extra is a full commentary of the entire movie of the English language dub. Set where one (or two) actors/actresses enter with ADR Director Mike McFarland (and voice of Kurito) to talk about their experiences of the movie. Mike for example first talks about directing himself, what traps not to fall into, what needs to be done, etc before being joined by Alexis Tipton (Saya), who speaks about series vs. movie Saya, how challenging to stick to the lower voice, favourite moments in the TV series, comparing vampires with Moka (Rosario Vampire, seiyuu links with Nana Mizuki), rules with vampires stories, etc. So there is a mixture of topics for all the people who pop in and whilst some are similar subjects they are all interesting.
We next get Jay Saxton (Mana), and after that a combo of Josh Grelle (Fujimora) and Tia Ballard (Tsukiyama) which is a bit more comic, Josh enjoys talking about various vampire anime in particular talking about (Blood The Last Vampire, Shiki, Dance In The Vampire Bund, Hellsing), then we get Robert McCullom (Fumito) about how he was one of the few actors who worked this movie that was in the TV series, then we get Jerry Jewell (ADR Director of the TV Series) as a comparison between movie and series – first thing he directed, talks about how Saya would have been affected in the gap period between series and movie, how the innocence is gone and Alexis having to adjust, talk about CLAMP animation and the Watanuki link, changes of Fumito, etc.
And at the end we get some behind the scenes people in Kyle Pylf (voice director) and Neil O’Malley (post production) for a bit of how things have to sound and how work is cleaned up. Lasts throughout the whole movie so a good combination of informative, interesting and a tad silly.
We get the English Language Trailer, and some promotional videos and teasers in Japanese (which are quite similar). The other unique extra is called the NoneNone theatre, featuring the twin girls from the TV series talking about how the old series leads into the movie, and some of the things involved from Sara, to 7th Heaven, to Fumito, to the Bairns, the locations and even that mysterious dog. It is done puni plush/chibi style so is a very weird change of pace considering the violence of the series and darkness of the movie, but reminds you of the silly nature the series had before the plot kicked in. It does do a good reminder for fans to showcase what the series and characters were about to set you up for the movie so it is informative in that respect.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
My review of Blood-C was one of basically trying to throw the viewer off guard (especially during the final episode) with a weird twist and extremely violent and gory imagery. Whilst the violence and gore does remain in the movie it more tries to revolve around Saya and how her character is now focused on revenge – no more of the goofy singing Saya, she is all business. And whilst that makes her better focused as a character I can’t say it really helped the movie as it suffers from both similar problems to the series as well as a few other things.
Continuing where the series left off, here we get Saya trying to hunt down Fumito, the charming man who helped her with drinks before turning to be the true instigator of all the monsters appearing and her ‘friends’. Set a year later after the series, our first look at Saya is her killing off an Elder Bairn, saving a young woman named Mana who is later discovered to be part of a group of hackers/resistance group called SIRRUT. During the year that Fumito has taken control, he has created a bill called the Youth Ordinance Bell, restricting the use of the internet and also putting a curfew upon minors, causing some civil unrest. When Manas’ friends appear, Saya is dragged along for the ride as somehow also opposing Fumito, but more for revenge against him personally rather than any moral crusade.
They are looking for something known as The Tower, which is where they believe Fumitos’ base of operations is. We are also introduced to Fumitos’ cousin, Kurito, who appears to be the head of this resistance. After some brief exposition, we get a really unusual sequence due to the CLAMP crossover nature that happened in the TV series involving the dog, for those who don’t know, the dog was in fact Watanuki from Xxxholic. And Saya now looks for now his shop, to grant her wish on a new sword. Mana seems to have an infatuation of trying to be friends with this woman and follows her around as we get this one scene wonder of Watanuki appears, talking with them both and giving Saya the weapon…and then basically vanishes.
The movie then tries to add a bit more comedy in Manas’ attempts to become friends with Saya (with a bath sequence played for fanservice as much as Manas’ awkwardness) but gradually throughout the movie we see her efforts seem to work a little as Saya does talk more to her as well as Mana explaining her situation about her father and how he got involved (which becomes a little sad when you learn what actually happened to her father by the end of the movie) – however this does lead to a moment when Saya lets her guard down which does begin the climax of the film. After one of the other SIRRUT members (an adorable young lady named Tsuki, sadly outside of Mana and Kurito, her and the other two members really don’t get much airtime) actually discovers the Towers location where the company 7th Heaven is based, they prepare an attack on Fumito, which leads into some nice animation of the monsters and Saya with a roaring rush of revenge. Unfortunately, turns out Kurito was a backstabber and the moment she let her guard down with Mana, he poisoned her coffee and caused her to pass out.
It leads to a white room where Kurito and Fumito greet her with some taking over the world exposition, though the two cousins are quite different in their words and their own ideas, which causes some conflict. Of course Fumito was well aware of this as he stabs Kurito with some of Sayas’ blood which turns him into an Elder Bairn. Saya has to bring her weakened body to try and stop them and kill Fumito before it is too late…
The movie is basically got quite a few problems with it though also a fair bit that is good. What is definitely good is the animation – it is superb, the Bairns animation is very fluid as are the fight sequences with Saya – it is a great film to look at, and also a good dub along with the great Japanese work involved in the original language.
In terms of the movie itself, the main strength is actually from Saya. In terms of the TV series, she was very airheaded and bubbly before having to get into her inner strength, and whilst not helped by her supporting cast, her character did get old very quickly. Here, she is no-nonsense, a total badass and focused on her mission, but also at the same time does have enough of that human compassion still to at least be developed, especially when her friendship with Mana is concerned. In fact, if you didn’t like the TV series, you might find the movie to be far better as what is basically an action movie rather than a 13 episode walk around school drama which ends in the most over the top way.
However, whilst I enjoyed it in terms as an action movie, there are a lot of flaws which are quite noticeable. It suffers from the same reason Blood-C suffered, the villain is not very interesting and doesn’t get a lot of background in terms of what happened during the year between the series and the movie. The double cross led to basically just a basic take over the world motive, and wasn’t established upon and became very predictable. If maybe we had seen some of the movie via Fumito’s perspective it wouldn’t have been so bad but here we get very little on him, and almost as little on Saya – we know she has changed a lot, but outside of Mana trying to be friends, we don’t get much out of her either.
Also, because of the timescale of the movie, the rest of the crew in the hackers are woefully underdeveloped. Used a little for comic relief (and Tsuki is mainly used to feel jealous that Mana wants to be close to Saya – insert CLAMP joke here) A lot of the time is devoted to Mana trying to be friends with Saya, and various things could have been changed or added (for example, the Watanuki scene is a real shout out to Xxxholic, but after that isn’t mentioned, maybe more time in their development or backstory would have helped)- for fans of the show, the fact it does seem to be just an action movie with little direction will disappoint people, though maybe not if they enjoy how Saya has changed from the series.
I wasn’t a fan of Blood-C, and the movie didn’t change my opinion. It was very generic, very predictable, not enough characterization for the villains, and the finale is very bittersweet as well. I did enjoy the animation and battles – and the violence made more sense compared to how over the top it became in the TV Series. That said, it is hard to recommend both as a show for fans of the series because of the change in direction, or just as a general action movie because it is very generic. The one thing that was good was Sayas’ character in how she is now totally focused and how powerful she gets, but otherwise the movie is very forgettable.
The Last Dark does conclude the series, but in a very anti-climatic and bittersweet away as the villains don’t get enough focus to really feel or despise them, they are just generally annoying. The new cast bar Mana really don’t have much for them, and Mana just feels a generic friend character that comes across as annoying. The saving grace though is that action fans will enjoy this because of how awesome Saya changes and comes across, combined with superb visuals and audio it is definitely at least enjoyable in that regard. Otherwise, outside of the Watanuki cameo, there isn’t really anything memorable about this movie that gives it a recommendation.
Content Grade: C
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: C
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Manga Entertainment UK
Release Date: March 24th, 2014
Running Time: 106 minutes
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.