ANIME & MANGA - Review
16:00 - 6th June 2014, by David West

Blood-C: The Last Dark

In the not-too distant future, creatures stalk the dark corners of Tokyo, preying on humans. The city is controlled by the mega-corporation Seventh Heaven and its leader Fumito Nanahara. His control of the metropolis is challenged by a group of hackers called Sirrut who are digging into his connections to a mysterious organisation called The Tower. When Nana, a member of Sirrut, is attacked by a monster one night, she is saved by a girl in a sailor suit armed with a katana. Saya has come to Tokyo, and she's hunting Fumito Nanahara.

Following the bloodbath that wrapped up the Blood-C series in such an unsatisfactory fashion, Saya returns for this feature-length adventure that attempts to tie up some of the loose ends from its messy predecessor. As director Naoyoshi Shiotani takes over from Tsutomu Mizushima, The Last Dark is a major step in the right direction for Production IG's immortal heroine. She looks more like her original incarnation in the classic Blood: The Last Vampire, although she retains the enormous pigtails bestowed upon her by manga artists CLAMP in the Blood-C series. Alongside the return of Saya's signature sailor suit, she has rediscovered the cold fury that first made her so compelling. Gone is the unimposing slip of a girl from Blood+ and the vapid shrine maiden of the previous series. This is the classic Saya - relentless, fearless and deadly.

So far, so good, but the screenplay by Junichi Fujisaku and Nanase Ohkawa is hit and miss. It gets off to a suitably horrific start as a man on the subway morphs into a monster and starts eating people. This sequence provides a showcase for how the film uses CG animation to create a much more dynamic environment than that of the Blood-C series - a matter that wasn't helped by CLAMP's peculiarly flat design work. Perhaps director Shiotani's experience of working on Oblivion Island, Production IG's first 3D CGI film, helped on that score.

The introduction of the members of Sirrut slows the pace down. Most of them remain background characters that conform to different anime archetypes - nerd, child prodigy, braggart. Mana receives far and away the most attention with the script unsubtly hinting at her attraction to Saya and playing to the fanservice contingent with a scene of the girls taking a bath together. Mana's main role is to follow Saya around like a lovesick puppy, and, in true anime tradition, to say her name a lot when Saya is in the midst of battle. There is a cool fight against a tentacle monster in an auditorium, but the creative team really drops the ball in the grand finale. It's a given that Saya will defeat the gargantuan big boss since she's the heroine, but when she beats him with one single, solitary blow it is a huge anti-climax. And the pointless plot device award goes to The Tower for making their HQ (which is a big tower, way to be literal, fellas) undetectable on Google Earth, even though it's enormous and visible for miles around.

None of the spin-offs from Blood: The Last Vampire has equalled the intensity of the original, but The Last Dark has the greatest success in tapping into the spirit of that classic. The ending is a complete misfire, but along the way there are monsters to be slain and it's great seeing Saya back to her ferocious old self.
SCORE: 3/5
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