Blood: The Last Vampire
Blood: The Last Vampire, is a 2000 anime film produced by Production I.G. and Aniplex. The director was Hiroyuki Kitakubo. Later, the anime movie would inspirate Sony and Production I.G. to creat a new anime serie, called Blood +.
The film Blood: The Last Vampire premiered in theaters in Japan on November 18, 2000. A single-volume manga sequel, titled Blood: The Last Vampire 2000 and written by Benkyo Tamaoki, was published in Japan in 2001 by Kadokawa Shoten, and in English by Viz Media in November 2002 under the title Blood: The Last Vampire 2002. Three Japanese light novel adaptations have also been released for the series, along with a video game. A live-action adaptation of the film with the same title was released in Japan in May 2009.
In directing the film, Kitakubo notes that his having read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and watched the American television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer , they may have had some influence on the film as the rest of his life experiences have. Production I.G broke new ground in Blood: The Last Vampire by being the first company to film an anime series almost entirely in English, with Japanese subtitles, feeling that it would help the film reach foreign markets more easily.
Original Anime Film:
The film’s character designed were crafted by Katsuya Terada. The original screenplay was written by Kenji Kamiyama, while its musical score was composed by Yoshihiro Ike. Before the film was completed, it was licensed for release in North America by Manga Entertainment.
It first premiered at the 5th annual International Festival of Fantasy, Action and Genre Cinema, nicknamed Fantasia 2000, in Montreal, Canada where it was screened for attendees on July 29, 2000. The film aired in Australia on August 26, 2000 at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival. It made its theatrical debut in its home country of Japan on November 16, 2000.
Manga Entertainment released the film theatrically in North America in the summer of 2001, followed by VHS and DVD releases on August 26, 2001.
- Saya (小夜, Saya) hunts chiropterans using a japanese sword called Katana. It is implied that she is the last remaining vampire and called “the only remaining original.” Saya has no weakness to sunlight, although it is unknown if she has any of the other vulnerabilities often attributed to vampires. She does, however, become distressed when she encounters religious paraphernalia and angry when people mention God in her presence. Saya displays superhuman senses and strength, as well as cunning, resourcefulness, and skill. The manga series suggests she was a human-vampire hybrid. Her age is unknown, but a picture of her with nine other people is shown in the film with the date 1892 and the word “vampire” attached to it. Though she holds most humans in contempt, she seems to have some sort of respect for David. Voiced by Youki Kudo.
- David is a man working for the U.S. government organization called the Red Shield. He relays the missions to Saya and helps her at various points in the film. Voiced by Joe Romersa.
- Chiroptera, Greek for “hand wings” and translated as 翼手 (yokushu) in Japanese, are hematophagous bat-like creatures. They are extremely long-lived individuals that are comparable to humans in intelligence. Their natural appearance is much like a large, monstrous, long-limbed bat. Chiroptera live by feeding on human blood. They possess extraordinary speed, strength, and supernatural healing abilities and can heal almost instantly from any non-lethal wound. Because of this, the only way to easily kill them is to cause them to lose a sufficiently large amount of blood from one attack.
Synopsis (MAY HAVE SPOILERS!):
The year is 1966. Saya is the only remaining original vampire, and she hunts Chiropterrans–demons who live off human blood. Saya’s a testy and demanding little bitch but apparently very valuable to “the top.” Her next assignment, as her boss David explains it to her, is to infiltrate the U.S. Yokota Air Base’s High School, which has been the scene of several deaths in the past and is thought to be harboring at least two Chiropterrans. Saya’s cover is that of a student who will be participating in classes for a few days.
Saya’s first day at Yokota High is pretty uneventful. After classes are over and everyone has cleared out, Saya snoops around the school and learns that blood has been spilled on the floor in the infirmary. She suspects that the infirmary is the Chiropterrans’ feeding room. The next day is the school’s Halloween party. After school lets out, the students change into their costumes and head for the dance…all except for Sharon and Linda, that is. Linda isn’t feeling well, and Sharon thinks it’s a flare-up of Linda’s anemia, so she’s going to walk Linda over to the infirmary and they will attend the party later. Saya enters the infirmary just as Sharon and Linda are about to feed on nurse Makiho Amano. Linda changes her form into Chiropterran, and Saya slays her with her sword. Saya turns on Sharon and wounds her, but Sharon gets away, spilling blood as she flees. The astonished nurse follows the trail, which leads to the dance hall where she finds Sharon in Chiropterran form hiding under a blanket. While Saya battles the creature, Makiho runs for help.
Meanwhile, at a nearby bar, the mama-san sets the bar on fire, takes Chiropterran form, and heads for the army base. She kills the military guard who is escorting the Makiho back to the dance. Saya saves the terrified nurse, and they take refuge in a military garage, but the demon finds them. Saya, without her sword, battles the creature with a shovel while Makiho hops in a jeep and rams through the door. David, who has been looking for Saya and was standing outside the garage, tosses a sword to Saya, and she chops the demon (Sharon) in half. As Saya and David take Makiho from the jeep and lay her unconscious form gently in the grass, they see the mama-san in demon form on the roof, preparing to fly away. David and Saya follow in the jeep. The Chiropterran tries to escape by landing on the wing of a military jet tooling down the runway. The jeep gives chase, and Saya slays the monster. As the Chiropterran lies dying on the runway, Saya feeds it with a few drops of her own blood.
Epilogue: Makiho attempts to describe what she saw to the military brass, but she has little proof of anything. When she returned to the infirmary, Linda’s body was no longer there and the bloody mess had been cleaned up. The military brass deny knowing anything about David, but they do show Makiho a photo taken in 1892 that clearly shows Saya and has the word “Vampire” written on it. Makiho returns to her office, wondering to herself whether Saya is still around and still fighting demons, “just as we humans continue to kill each other.” At that moment, an announcement comes over the radio that the Liberation Front has attacked the American Blake base and that Yokota base personnel have been ordered to fly to Don Hoi in North Vietnam. As the credits roll, the background shows some very blurry photos of what looks like American forces in Vietnam.
In May 2006, Bill Kong, producer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero , announced that he was producing a live-action film adaptation of Blood: The Last Vampire, directed by Ronny Yu, and, like the source anime film, primarily filmed in English rather than Japanese. The film’s setting, however, will be shifted to 1948 at a United States Air Force Base in Tokyo, shortly after the conclusion of World War II during the American occupation of Japan. Early reports indicated that the film’s plot will feature Saya as a 400-year-old half-human-half-vampire who hunts full blooded vampires, both to rid the world of them and as they are her only source for food. She works with an organization known only as “The Council”. Normally a loner, Saya forms a friendship with a young girl she meets at an American military base while preparing to battle Onigen, the highest ranking of the vampires.
Kong and Yu originally planned to finance the project themselves, but in November 2006, Production I.G officially consented to the film and began offering financial support. Through ties to Manga Entertainment, the French company Pathé became the film’s production company. Yu was retained as its producer, but Chris Nahon took over as the film’s director. Korean actress Jun-Ji-Hyun, who adopted her English screen name Gianna Jun for the release, plays the role of Saya. Rather than being paid a straight license, Production I.G will receive a percentage of all revenues generated by the film.
Originally slated to be released worldwide in spring 2008, the film premiered in Japan on May 29, 2009 under the title Last Blood (ラスト・ブラッド, Rasuto Buraddo). The film was released in the United Kingdom on June 26, 2009. Sony Pictures licensed the film for release in North America, where it was released to theaters by Samuel Goldwyn Films on July 10, 2009.