Sitges 2012 Review: BLOOD-C THE LAST DARK Brings Mixed Closure To The Franchise

The Blood-C saga is the latest entry in the long running Blood: The Last Vampire franchise, which has spanned different media such as novels, manga, TV series and films. Produced in collaboration by Production I.G and famous manga creators CLAMP, Blood-C puts a new spin on the story of Saya, the young katana wielding schoolgirl in her fight against the forces of darkness. Blood-C: The Last Dark is the film that serves as closure to the 2011 anime series. I have to say that I haven't seen the series, so I watched the film without previous knowledge of the Blood-C universe.

In a near-future Tokyo, the government has enacted the Youth Protection Ordinance, a law the imposes a curfew for the minors to be out at night. Internet is heavily censored and policed, but despite all that Sirrut, an underground rebel organization, is devoted to bring down Fumito Nanahara. He is the owner of Seventh Heaven, a huge multinational with numerous political ties and believed to be related with Tower, a mysterious organization that seems to be conducting experiments involving human beings. Saya Kisaragi is a strange girl that carries a dark secret and is also on the hunt of Fumito, trying to find more about him as she battles blood-thirsty demon creatures known as Furikomono. Once Sirrut members manage to get in contact with Saya, they'll have to work together to bring down Tower and its mastermind Fumito once and for all.

From the opening sequence the level of craftsmanship from the studio behind the film becomes immediately clear. Once again Production I.G proves themselves as one of the leading animation studios in Japan. The mix of traditional hand drawn cells with CGI - mainly backgrounds and vehicles - works perfectly, and the results are stunning on the big screen. Those of you familiar with the work of CLAMP will quickly recognize their hand behind character design. Unfortunately, the development of this characters doesn't match its visual quality. We're presented with a bunch of teenagers that once again follow familiar anime stereotypes, with no special traits that help people other than fans relate to them. As usual, the only adults in the film are shady characters and once more is up to the young boys and girls to save the day. Having seen the original film, it surprised me that there is no reference to vampires in this incarnation, just some kind of demons with a special preference for human blood and flesh. Besides, there's no development of Saya story or who (or what) she really is, but I understand that being a closure for the anime series there's no need for the film to cover that again.

But the main issue with the movie is that despite its visuals and themes, it can become kind of tedious and boring at some points. The action sequences are great and are easily the highlights of the film, but they're far too few and apart. There are long segments of the film devoted only to character development and their relationships, but they never manage to rise above the usual anime cliches. Even the final battle becomes too little after waiting for so long, even from the visual side as the integration of the CGI monsters doesn't work as well as the rest.

As I said, I haven't seen the tv series so I assume my take on the film is greatly undermined by that. Probably the fans will have a great time with Blood-C: The Last Dark, but for the rest of us just looking for good anime action will walk somewhat disappointed.
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