Reviews of yesteryear: Blade

Welcome, my lovely fans, to the final review of horror anime month. You know, I love Marvel comics, okay, I loved Marvel comics until the mid-90s and now I don’t care for their new stuff except for Neil Gaiman’s 1602. But there’s one aspect where the company still produces decent stuff sometimes and that’s the movies. One of the early movies was Blade and, though it had some issues, it was awesome. Even though Blade was kind of a strange choice since he was a relatively obscure character best known for his guest appearance in the 90s Spider-man cartoon. Naturally, with the success of the films Marvel made the decision to work with Madhouse on various anime projects. There was Iron-man, Wolverine, X-men and Blade. Honestly, I’ve been hesitant to watch these since they seem like a cheap attempt to cash in on the movies and the trailers haven’t been promising, but to close horror anime month I’m going to look at Blade. To start off with I’ll briefly talk about what I thought of the movies, skipping the first one since I already mentioned it. The second one was good, not as good as the first but good. The third was, in keeping with Marvel film trilogy tradition, terrible. Let’s just hope that the Blade anime is more in keeping with the first two. Knowing Madhouse, it could go either way.

The story opens with Blade in Japan hunting vampires. He runs into a few and asks one of them where he can find a four-fanged vampire. His search leads him to a nightclub where a father and daughter pair of vampire hunters is fighting the owner, a vampire named Radu. I’m not sure if they’re referencing a really stupid horror movie series there or not. Anyway, Blade defeats Radu and then the group is attacked by Deacon Frost a vampire with four fangs. It ends with the father sacrificing himself, I don’t recall them ever giving the guy a name, and Frost running off with a sample of Blade’s blood. The story from there follows Blade as he hunts Frost and his vampiric organisation known as Existence. Makoto, the surviving hunter from earlier, chases after him. I will warn you that her initial reason for doing so is really stupid. It’s a simple story but it’s told pretty well. There’s one really good emotional moment towards the end. There’s also quite a bit of back story, which is worked in pretty well. The biggest issue with the story is that a lot of it involves Blade going somewhere in Asia, finding Frost, Frost getting away while Blade is fighting something, and then it repeats. So it does get repetitive.

The characters are mostly well done. Blade, Razor, Whistler… I mean Noah Van Hellsing (He’s basically Whistler they just gave him a different name) and Makoto, once she stops being stupid, (to be fair, she only acts like a moron for the first few episodes and it’s understandable in the first) are all interesting characters with depth. Even a lot of the one-shot characters feel like real people. That being said, there are some issues. I’ll start with the more minor one, Kikyo Mikage. Now, this is a Marvel anime original character and he’s terrible. He’s very one-dimensional and his power, retractable full length swords with hilts included that come out of his hands, is one of the dumbest I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen characters with the power to communicate with squirrels and the power to detach their arms. Full length retractable swords makes them seem almost mediocre by comparison. This guy shouldn’t even be able to bend his arms. My bigger issue is with Frost’s motivations. Towards the end they have him give a pretty predictable villain speech where he expounds about all his plans. If that wasn’t bad enough, he has two different and contradictory goals. That’s right, when he starts his speech he says that his goal is one thing. Roughly five minutes later when he’s ending it, he says his goal is something completely different. That’s great continuity right there.

The art is really good. The characters look good (mostly), although don’t expect Blade to look like Wesley Snipes. Which is fine since this isn’t connected to the movie trilogy. He looks more like the comic version which is somewhat similar to another actor. There’s a variety of vampire types, most of which are interesting and have a good aesthetic sense. The settings are varied and nicely detailed. I did have a few issues though. The first one is going to be really nerdy, fair warning. My first issue is that Madhouse fails at drawing Wolverine. Here’s the thing, Wolverine is supposed to be all of 5’3 and stocky. In this he’s as tall as Captain Blade of the space station DS 9, who should tower over him at 6’2, and he’s kind of scrawny. Yeah, Blade in this did remind me of Avery Brooks. As I said, it’s a nerdy complaint but it’s still valid. My second issue is with the final variety of vampires. They appear right at the end, there’s a lot of build up and I was wondering what they would do with them. Then they appeared and I burst out laughing. They look really stupid and it just kills the dramatic tension. My biggest issue is with the fight scenes. They almost all follow the same basic pattern. Peons get destroyed with ease, a big baddie shows up, it looks like Blade is getting his butt kicked, Blade does a slow-motion special attack, the fight ends. This is not how you make intense action scenes. The final battle between Frost and Blade… That works. It doesn’t follow that same pattern. Why didn’t they do them more like that throughout?

The voice acting is pretty good in this. Ootsuka Akio and Sakamoto Maaya especially do well. The first two movies had pretty awesome soundtracks, this does not follow suit. The music is pretty dull.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. There’s all of one major female character and she doesn’t get any les-yay with any side characters or anything.

So, how does the Blade anime hold up when compared to the films? It does okay. There’s quite a bit in here that’s done well, but there are also quite a few problems. The characters are mostly really well done, there is a good story hidden beneath the repetition and the artwork, aside from a few things, is pretty good. Really, every aspect of the anime had a lot of good things going for it but there are also negatives to everything. A lot of which just come from laziness. Whether it was repeating plot points, repetitive fights or continuity flubs. Almost all of which could’ve been avoided if they’d put in more effort. As such my final rating is a 6.5/10. If you like Blade as a character, either from the films or the comics, you’ll probably enjoy this but if you don’t care about Blade, it’s probably not going to have anything for you.

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