While I have watched a ton of cartoons, the same really can not be said of anime. Sure, I know my classics like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, or Vampire Hunter D but by and large I am not up on my anime. I certainly like it but when I look the shelves and shelves of television episodes or movies, I’m mostly overwhelmed. However, a little bit ago I saw a commercial for some Marvel Anime on G4, I was instantly interested. Little did I know that a couple of the series would end up on my doorstep.
Eric Brooks hunts vampires. He is half human and half vampire. He is what is known as a day walker, able to harness the strengths of the vampire but not exhibit their weaknesses such as death by sunlight. Eric is on a mission to hunt these monsters for they infected and killed his pregnant mother. The vampires call Eric by another name, Blade. He is on the hunt…
A drunk man is in the alley and trying to get over aggressive on a female. Little does he know that she is actually a vampire. The man finds out (when he gets too fresh) and then runs in the direction of the cops. The cops are also vampires. Scared and corned, he is saved by a flash of light. Two vampires dissolve into ash and Blade is on the scene with his trusty silver hardware. He finishes them off and questions the remaining vampire cops about a vampire with four fangs.
The cop claims to know nothing but gives himself away when Blade pulls a disappear/reappear trick. It appears that the leader of Existence (a vampire organization) will be at the club tonight. Meanwhile, a vehicle pulls up to that same club. A woman named Makato steps out, seemingly ready for action. From the moment she steps into the club, the swarm of vampires is attracted to her very scent like wild dogs. It particularly attracts the attention of Radu (it might also be Ladu, they play on words here and I swore I heard him correct Makato and say Ladu), the club owner.
Soon Radu takes Makato up to his private suite for some private seduction. During this, the cages come down and the male patrons take on their vampire forms as they drool over their fresh meat. But Makato upstairs is not an innocent victim, she is actually here to kill some vampires. She starts to shred vampires with her special silver knucks and her father, Hayate busts in with guns a blazing. But Radu is having none of this and to the surprise of everybody, turns into a werewolf.
It is about that time when Blade invades the club, killing more vampires and facing off with the werewolf. Makato and Hayate soon run for the door. Blade faces off with Radu and we find out that his boss is the infamous leader of the Existence. Blade is able to finish off the werewolf with his Residual Move, a deadly sword technique. Meanwhile outside, Makato and Hayate run into the man known as the leader of the Existence, Deacon Frost.
Frost goes after Hayate and beats the crap out of him and then bites him for good measure. Blade can not get there in time before Frost leaves the man for dead. Blade and Deacon Frost face off. Frost shows him a scar that he got from Blade’s mother that night many moons ago. Blade is outraged and tries to take out Deacon Frost. However, Blade is subdued and two of Frost’s henchmen take a couple of blood samples before he momentarily passes out.
Elsewhere, Hayate becomes a vampire and threatens to kill his own flesh and blood, Makato. Blade wakes up in time and is able to save Makato by killing her father, now transformed. Makato is upset and sobbing but her target is not her dead father. She is angry with Blade. Makato vows revenge and will make Blade pay. But Blade has other matters to attend to as he leaves to find Frost and finish the Existence.
Blade Anime is actually a 12 part series, the synopsis represents only one episode out of the mix. It is a long continuing story that is quite the unexpected surprise out of this anime experiment. It has some great characters and even better storytelling. Furthermore, these are actually some really scary and gruesome stories with vampires that look straight out of a mythology tome rather than a teenage bad romance book. Creepiness is achieved all over the place and it is easily the darkest I have seen this character.
Is it perfect? No, along with the vampires does come of what I like to call Anime campiness. We get some really elevated voices or expressions that seem like they came out of a Sailor Moon episode rather than Blade. It kills the mood at one or two points but should not be distracting for too long. I also was not super impressed with Deacon Frost as an antagonist but he does indeed get better as time goes on. However, the good way outweighs the bad here and the series is excellent.
The video is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. Like the name implies, this cartoon has a very anime style (and even an occasional fanboy or two anime moments). The color is excellent and the action is able to keep pace with detail and intensity. The characters are thankfully not over the top like a lot of anime but there are a few moments that really capture the essence of what the animators intended to do. Great style as long as one is not looking for something super polished.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 Dolby Digital track in English and Japanese. I opted for straight English rather than the original Japanese. The dub is actually excellent and honestly unless the person is one of those, we have to do original no matter what, I really think they will be fine here. Dialog is clear and despite the odd variations of some of these vampires, everybody is fairly easy to understand. Surrounds and bass are flavorful and create a lot of boom. One would be pressed hard to find a better audio in a dvd setting. English and English SDH subtitles are included.
- The Marvel Anime Universe: Blade Re-Awakened 10:21 : This featurette explains that this is a new world for Blade, the developers really consider the style almost noir in a sense. Madhouse and Warren Ellis created a really gritty and completely weird world for Blade to play in. There is some real mythology as well as designs created completely out of Asian style vampires which are very different from their European counterparts.
- Blade: The Vampire Slayer 6:41: This is basically an extension of the first featurette and talks about the romantic lure that vampires have. They like that Blade was different and explain that the hero is only as good as his villain. I really liked here how they went over the origin and that they mix in a lot of comic art from his afro days.
- Special Talk Session: Marvel Anime’s Blade and Wolverine 33:01: This is found on the second disc and is basically the Japanese side of the house. It is subtitled in English and features the directors and creators from the Asian side of the fence. There is not much here about Wolverine, it is very slanted towards Blade (which makes me kinda weary about reviewing the Wolverine anime in the coming week). It appears that this was recorded around the 8th or 9th episode of the show and the guys really have a grand old time as they talk about the characters and motivations they went through. We do get some sketches but to be honest this is one of the dullest roundtable type featurettes I have seen. It dragged quite a bit.
- Previews: Attack of the Show, Resident Evil: Damnation, Starship Troopers: Invasion, 21 Jump Street, Lockout and The Raid Redemption.
My first time watching Marvel Anime was a strong experience. Blade is a character that is ripe for this sort of thing and I am so glad that Madhouse and Marvel stepped out of the box for this twelve episode series. I am honestly a little saddened that it actually ended so soon but who knows what the future might bring. This show is more authentic to the Blade experience and despite enjoying the Snipes live action trilogy, this feels to capture better Eric Brooks as the ultimate daywalker and vampire hunter.
The disc package is mixed to good. The video and audio are both excellent but the extras are thin on content and this also comes housed in a 2 disc eco holey case which does not exactly hold up to repeated viewings. Despite this, I still recommend this package. The anime is fantastic and the story is captivating. Blade is a worthy character in this universe and I can only hope my experience with Wolverine anime is as special in the following week. Stay tuned.
His Name is Blade
A Night for the Living, A Mourning for the Dead
Dead on Arrival
That was then, This is Now
The Island of Fire
Claws and Blades
Old Wounds, Fresh Blood
Sins of the Father
The Last Sunset
The Final Glory of Deacon Frost