This is review number seventy three and its part of the Summer 2011 lineup. This lineup is pretty short and I’ve seen most of them so I’m trying to watch those that I haven’t seen first. I’ll be reviewing Blade, a marvel comic about a half vampire killing vampires. It’s twelve episodes and it’s the fourth anime created by Marvel and Madhouse as part of their four part project bringing marvel stories into anime. Sounds exciting, isn’t?
My name is Eric Brooks. I’m a vampire hunter. Yeah, they’re the ones that goes bump in the night. Half of me is human and the other half is one of them. As luck would have it, that means I can go out into the sun, with the power of the Daywalker. I hunt them down and cut them apart.
It wasn’t long before they started to fear me and started calling me… Blade.
Taking the Pants Off
I love western style anime. You know the type, right? It’s those anime that has a big western influence to it. Its heroes are mostly muscle bound guys in contrast to the typical anime hero that are mostly normal teenage boys. The art is the big giveaway and I personally love seeing those muscle bound guys because I’ve seen too much of normal typical kids becoming heroes. Let’s have someone we can look up to instead of someone we wish we could be for once. They were huge in the early 80s and 90s. Anime like Project Arms and Hellsing was pretty popular back then. It got a bit of revival recently with anime like Heroman, Skullman and Zetman. Eventually, Marvel Superheroes got their own anime adaptation. Madhouse and Marvel has joined forces to deliver four Marvel anime. The first three were Wolverine, Ironman and X-men. It had American style characters talking Japanese. It’s hard to get used to it. The East meets West inspired approach has even hatched an original anime in Tiger and Bunny. I hope it’s only the beginning because I want more.
The fourth one hatched by Marvel and Madhouse is Blade. I’m not a fan of comics or superheroes. I’m 100% anime and I do watch superhero cartoons in Cartoon Network but I’ve never been into the whole superhero thing. Naturally, I don’t know squat about Blade. I’ve seen the Wesley Snipes movie but that was so long ago. I know that it’s gory. That’s about it. I’ll be reviewing the anime and I won’t point out how it stacks up to the original. I don’t do that. I try to be as unbiased as I possibly can.
So Blade is about this half human half vampire guy who hunts vampires because they’re the scum of the earth. He’s a special kind of vampire that can walk in daytime. He is known as a “Daywalker”. His notoriety spreads among the vampire community and it wasn’t long until he is being hunted down as well. He has one mission. It’s to kill the vampire named Deacon Frost who bit his mother while she was pregnant and started this whole thing. Blade plans to end it. Frost is an elusive man though and his hunt eventually leads him into Asia.
I have mixed feelings about the anime. The story particularly bugs me because I know it’s good but I also know that it’s generic. The problem is that it’s predictable. If you’ve watched those Saturday morning cartoons about the X-men or the Justice League then you can easily predict the story of Blade. I’m not saying it’s bad because people who have seen this kind of story set up will enjoy it like how we enjoyed those Saturday morning cartoons. I love anime because it doesn’t follow that kind of story set up. It’s different. It’s Japanese. The story of Blade is very American.
The anime also relied on building up the story and character development as it progress. It falls flat on first impressions because the story is pretty straight forward. It’s about Blade traveling Asia trying to find Frost and along the way; he gets into situations where vampires try to feed on humans. The characters were all bland too including Blade. They couldn’t shine because the story is focused on building up the story leading to its eventual climax and ending. So you’re first impression is naturally bad because even the action scene wasn’t great. One hit kills and a lot of talking isn’t the type of thing that hooks audiences. All of that is even more handicapped by the fans expecting it’d live up to the original.
You really need give it some time. Let it simmer and let the flavors build. At episode five, I was really enjoying the anime. The characters slowly grow on you and you eventually get a grasp of the story. The anime answered a lot of questions and it managed to let the characters grow. Blade started out as a stoic bad ass then as the anime progress; he started showing a friendlier aura. He even started depending and caring for his comrades. It’s important to get the story to build up because when the climax hits and the twist is unraveled, you will either love it or just go “meh” because you already saw it coming.
The anime isn’t without its merit. It had a lot of nice and unique things to it that makes it slightly enjoyable. I particularly love the setting of the anime. Blade in Asia, mostly in Southeast Asia, is a nice touch because the anime was able to incorporate new things to the already tired out genre of vampires. We have the typical human vampires but there are also cat vampires, rat vampires and even some lion vampires. The anime borrowed some of the countries culture and legend to the mix too. We see different kinds of vampires here that are mostly folklore to the country Blade visits. Also, he visited the Philippines sand it was nice to see my country getting some anime airtime. I give some points for originality.
The anime also used its flashbacks pretty efficiently as it explains a lot of crucial things you need to know about the anime. Why does Blade want to kill Deacon? How can Blade control hid thirst for blood? Why is Deacon such a huge douche? Some of them consume an episode though but it strengthens the story and adds more depth to the action. It was also used to establish some characters and strengthens them. The flashback is an important piece of the anime.
The fight scenes are also included in the anime’s slow build up. The crucial thing missing was blood. I was expecting gruesome blood showcasing like in Hellsing but the vampires would suddenly burst into flames after they die. It was a bit of a cop out. The fights doesn’t last that long too. Blade just swings his swords at the enemies and they die. He would always seem to win by just one swing of his sword. It was a bit cheap. The slow build up was in effect though. As you progress to the episodes, you would see Blade lose some of the fights and you see the fights getting longer. Blood also appeared at the later parts of the anime that really made the particular scene so very awesome. The sight of Deacon Frost twisting the neck of this dying vampire and drinking its blood like it was a mug of beer is still stuck to me.
The villains in the anime aren’t that great. The menacing ones that appear on the particular episode aren’t that great and Blade just kills them with no effort. The true stand out is Deacon Frost. A maniacal man bent on ruling the world with his organization. He’s the type of villain you want to die early but you know he can’t because he’s untouchable. He was an effective villain but he only shined on the later parts of the episode. Yes, after the story has stop building itself and it slowly reaches its climax.
The anime is a big swing and a miss. Its attempts to deliver something new and original are dampen by its execution. In the end, the anime will likely bore you and there are very little positives to balance with the negatives. It has a lot of plot holes and it’s too predictable.
Sight and Sound
The fight scenes aren’t that great. It doesn’t have some storytelling in it. It’s doesn’t have some thought behind it. The fights usually include some random slashing and shooting then Blade would kill the enemies then they burst up in flames. For the bigger and badder ones, the anime would rely on slow motion to intensify the action but it was used too many times. The same predictable thing happens here as well where Blade would just unleash a one hit kill and the enemies automatically dies.
The character design is western with muscular features and very American style features in the characters. It takes a bit of getting used to it but it is pretty nice. The vampire monsters are pretty nice even though they die fast. The character design is pretty great and it helps me remember some of the one shot characters even though they have bland personalities.
The opening song is pretty great. It starts out with an impressive guitar opening followed by just a great beat with no voice accompanying it. The opening sequence is pretty nice. It has a big fight feel to it and it introduced all the important characters. It had a bit of a summary of the events in the anime but there are no spoilers.
The ending song is the same band playing the same kind of energy as the opening song. It starts out wild then it mellowed midway and had a bit of a somber tone to it. It showcased all the weapons of Blade that he uses to kills the vampires then shifts to Makoto and Blade behind a setting sun.
3/10 “Too many negatives than positives to save the anime.”
I‘m a very patient guy so I see the potential of the anime but the anime need to let that shine. The execution was at fault here and it relied on a slow build up that would leave normal viewers uninterested.