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Blood-C The Last Dark Blu-ray Anime Review (S.A.V.E. Edition)

10 min read

Blood-C Movie SAVE CoverOn a quest to end what happened during the TV series run, Saya finds herself closer to her goal than ever before.

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?

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in t.1 as well as the English language adaptation, which is also in 5.1. Both tracks are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec and the results are pretty solid. The feature works in some expected ways here as you’d want it to where the action scenes are strong but the dialogue and quiet moments have a lot to offer. The forward soundstage for the quiet moments are very good when it comes to placement and depth as dialogue moves across the screen and we get some areas where it feels very warm and engaging. The action takes all of that and ramps it up a fair bit there with a lot more detail and intensity to it as it moves back and forth but also some excellent throws to the rear channels. The dynamic of the action really sells it well in the different situations we get, but even more so in the final action sequences that go big. It’s a good mix that definitely serves the material well and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally in theaters in the summer of 2012, the transfer for this feature film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Taking the style of the TV series up several notches and really expanding upon it since it shifts from the small town to the big city, it’s hard to really compare the two properties in a lot of ways since they work so differently. The commonality is the character designs, which look great here, placed within the darker and far, far busier world. It definitely looks great and the blending of the CG animation, especially with the amount used with the cars, hits all the right notes here. Production I.G. has created a very appealing and dark work here with all the detail and the general color design of it that translates well with the transfer. It’s rich, layered and one of the more fully lived in kinds of worlds that I’ve seen in an anime feature in a long time. Colors are spot on and the dark nature of it comes across very well here with little in the way of problematic noise or breakup.

The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case where we also get a slipcover that mirrors the case artwork itself. The front goes for a dark and violent look with an overly exposed Saya taking center stage in the dark with blood, water and lights all around that makes for a fairly intense look about her. With the frayed uniform and the heavy red eyes against the white face, it’s definitely striking and eye-catching. The logo is a good size along the bottom and fills it well and generally looks good. The back of the cover keeps to the dark and almost rusty approach that allows the text of the summary to come across well and a generally decent look to make it readable. The usual array of items are here with a choice quote, a few small and hard to decipher shots from the show and a clean listing of the extras included. The technical grid lists everything for both formats in a clean manner as well with everything laid out accurately. Though there’s no insert included with the release, we do get some really good artwork on the reverse side where the right has a great close-up of Saya from the side while the back has a full length shot of her being serious in her school uniform against a blood red background.

The menu design for the release has a good feel and texture to it even as it goes for a mostly simple approach with what it wants to do. The left side, which doubles as the pop-up menu, has the logo and navigation against a blue background with some hazy imagery from the show. It has an old and worn feeling to it that definitely fits nicely. The rest of the menu is given over to a large close-up shot of Saya’s face done in a purple filter that has her looking intense while playing some clips from the show through it. The layout is quick and easy to navigate and the submenus load quickly. The extras are also laid out well as one of them includes a very needed play-all feature.

The extras for this release are quite good as there’s a lot to like on both sides of the audiences being catered to. For the English language fans, we get a brand new full length commentary by the voice actors and production team behind the adaptation where they have some fun and go into the whole thing with its connections to the show and more. It’s definitely worth a listen and is fun, making me wish they had been able to do a video commentary. From the Japanese extras side, we get a good selection of promotional materials with videos and trailers. We also get the six NoNeNoNe theater pieces that were created to talk about the show and what it means for those that were just going into the feature on its own without the background of the series.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Blood: The Last Vampire was one of those properties when it first came out years ago that I loved the idea and concept behind it and where it could go. That original OVA was also fairly forward thinking in how it used a few different languages to it that gave it a large appeal which worked well to draw in people that might otherwise pass over it. Over the years, we got some manga series that did their own thing, a few novels and of course the lengthy Blood+ TV series that aired over here and got its own fan base. When CLAMP got involved in working with the Blood-C series, there were a lot of expectations and a huge amount of disappointment with it because of the way the series was structured. It was and is a hard show to watch in a lot of ways because of the pacing and the fact that it is a sort of prequel to this feature, but when I revisited it earlier this year and marathoned it, my opinion really solidified in a very positive way, especially because of the way it just gave in to the ultra violence and brutality of it all.

With this feature, we get to follow up the events of the TV series by moving it forward by several months as Saya, now more aware than ever before but still missing a lot of the pieces of the puzzle. In most ways, the feature works a predictable and understandable path but has enough to it that it keeps it moving and, surprisingly, more open-ended than I expected. After what she experienced in the fake town that was set up for her, Saya is intent on finding Fumito and having her revenge on him. Her goal is simple in that she wants to kill him for all the pain that he caused her back there and she’ll do whatever she can to exact it. Unfortunately, Tokyo isn’t the city she once knew from her previous experiences there that were seen in other series as a Youth Ordinance Act is in play that keeps people under twenty under curfew and there’s a sense of oppression among the youth. Saya stands out amid all of the because she doesn’t hew to it and her presence in the darkness of the night as she hunts for clues for Fumito gives her a reputation as someone that is defying the ordinance, something that almost nobody else is really doing.

Saya’s journey into Tokyo brings her into contact with a group known as Sirrut, a group of hacktivists spread about in different groups that don’t know each other that are trying to do good things. We get the focus on just one of the groups that knows some of what’s going on in the world with the Elder Bairns that Saya was fighting back in her fake village as they’re being backed financially by someone who clued them into it. This man is one side of a coin involving two families that go back generations that form something called the Tower. One side of it handles the agreements that are in place when it comes to Elder Bairns in providing humans for consumption so that it doesn’t go into a huge feeding frenzy while the other protects them throughout the centuries to ensure there is no greater discovery. Like any long time organization like this, it all works well while everyone adheres to the basic ideas behind it. But as we find here, one side has not gone well with this and has opted for something else, which is revealed that Fumito is that side of the coin. His reasons are unclear, but it makes the sides taking place here plain as Saya sort of throws in her lot with Sirrut and their backer in order to get her closer to Fumito.

Blood-C: The Last Dark works in a familiar pattern where Saya does her investigating aspect, gets caught up with those that have similar goals but keeps her distance and invariably finds herself facing down the enemy at the end that she has such a problem with. That familiar film structure is handled very well and capably here since it’s backed up by all that happened in the TV series, which gets its nods at time. Going from the two kinds of Saya’s we had there, having her mostly in a serious form here works since she’s struggling with what happened and all those losses while getting ever closer to her end goal. Saya’s closed nature here is fairly strong and in a lot of ways that makes her rather inaccessible, even with the flashes of what motivates her, but coming from the series helps alleviate that. Looking at it as just the movie itself, it’s fairly formulaic as it goes about what it needs to do, but it executes it well. When you add in the additional background, it does work as a good bit of closure for this particular arc of Saya’s life and experience.

In Summary:
Revisiting this series without the immediate context of the TV series was interesting, particularly in how much of the TV show came back to mind and how little of the film did. Blood-C: The Last Dark certainly brings a good part of what the Blood-C experience is to a close and sets Saya up to go pretty much anywhere at this point with something new. In terms of the overall story between the two parts to it here, the feature comes across as anti-climactic when it gets to the end, so much so that the final fight is just so abbreviated from what you expect that it’s very surprising. Though there’s more than enough formulaic moments here and a predictable plot path laid out, it’s executed with the kind of polish and style that you’d expect from Production I.G. and the team here. It’s solidly done and achieves all it sets out to do, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like it really challenged itself at all. Especially when you consider the kinds of things that happened to Saya in the TV series. It’s a solid closing to the arc that plays some echoes to the original OVA and works well enough on its own.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary, NoNeNoNe Theater, Original Previews/Promos

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: October 4th, 2016
MSRP: $24.98
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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