HTF DVD REVIEW: Blood+ Part One

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Cameron Yee, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer

    May 9, 2002
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    Since 2006
    Real Name:
    Cameron Yee
    Blood+ Part One

    Release Date: Available now (original release date March 4, 2008)
    Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
    Year: 2005
    Rating: Not Rated
    Running Time: 10h19m
    Video: 1.33:1 full screen
    Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo: Japanese, English
    Subtitles: English, French, Korean
    Packaging/Materials: Cardboard case housing three double-disc slim cases
    MSRP: $119.95

    The Feature: 4/5

    "Blood: The Last Vampire," an animated short feature released in 2000, was a beautifully animated but too-brief and too-cryptic introduction to sword-wielding vampire hunter, Saya Otonashi. "Blood+," airing stateside on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, continues her story, making up for the brevity and mystery of the original treatment, but with some notable changes that fans of the film might consider compromises. Where "Blood" was mature in content, character design and animation technique, telling a story and looking very different from its peers, "Blood+" conforms to typical anime conventions with its doe-eyed character design, sometimes juvenile humor and situations, and "TV grade" animation. This isn't a problem necessarily, especially since the best anime series have had the same qualities, but it does require a shift in expectation. Given the first work's limited scope, it shouldn't take long for viewers to adapt to the changes; as it provided little in the way of back story or mythology, it also doesn't take long for "Blood+" to overtake its source material in sheer breadth. And despite the show's seemingly kid friendly qualities, the vast amounts of blood and violence make it unsuitable for children under 15.

    The "Blood+ Part One" DVD set collects the first 25 episodes (or first two seasons) of the series, which track the evolution of Saya from amnesiac high school student (now living in the present day) to battle-ready, "chosen one," vampire (or "chiropteran") slayer. Intertwined with her development is the revelation of her past dating back to the late 1800s and the overall mythology behind the chiropteran species. Joining her in the journey are Kai and Riku, her adopted siblings; Hagi, a mysterious servant/protector from her past; and David, Lewis and Julia, agents of a secret organization called Red Shield. The first 10 or 12 episodes suffer from the problem found in many new TV series, where forward story progress is sacrificed in order build up the show's audience. Though DVD collections usually minimize viewer frustration by offering immediate access to episodes, it's still frustrating to see Saya unable to be her butt-kicking self well past the 10th episode. All is forgiven though with the last 10 installments, where Saya's past is fully revealed and she begins to resemble the force of nature introduced in the feature film. With 50 total episodes in the series there's plenty of story left to explore, but viewers without access to Cartoon Network will have to wait until the next DVD set is released or find a Japanese import. As Cartoon Network aired the 50th episode just a few days ago, I don't imagine the wait for the Region One release will be too long.

    And in an interesting move, Sony released the "Part One" collection at the same time as a single volume release covering the first five episodes. I'm not sure why anyone would want to buy individual volumes (and wait for them to be released) instead of getting the collection, but I guess it's nice having the choice.

    Video Quality: 5/5
    The picture is framed 1.33:1 and is free of dust, dirt, damage and edge halos. Color reproduction is very good, the largely hand drawn animation coming through beautifully. Black level and contrast are similarly faultless.

    Audio Quality: 3/5
    The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks are utilitarian in nature, with dialogue being their primary focus and little in the way of surround or bass activity. The original Japanese language track is preferable for both the voice acting and the better, more natural audio mix. The English language dub suffers from the typical poor delivery and voice acting as well as poor integration with the original non-vocal tracks.

    Special Features: 3/5

    The final disc in the set includes almost an hour of interviews with the Japanese voice actors. The interview questions are of the press junket variety, so there's not a lot of in-depth exploration, but as always it's interesting to see the faces behind the voices. If the extras had provided some information around the animation and development of the series, it would have made for a better overall package.

    In addition to the interviews are previews for "Paprika," "Tekkonkinkreet," "Resident Evil: Degeneration," "30 Days of Night," "Cowboy Bebop" and "Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis."

    The "Part One" DVD collection also includes a "Blood+" tee-shirt and a preview of the "Blood+" manga printed by Dark Horse Comics.

    Recap and Final Thoughts

    The Feature: 4/5
    Video Quality: 5/5
    Audio Quality: 3/5
    Special Features: 3/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 4/5

    Fans of the "Blood: The Last Vampire" feature should be excited for the expansion of the mythology in "Blood+" but they may need to adjust their expectations given the changes in character design and content. Nevertheless, a compelling story and mythology make "Blood+" a worthy follow-up and recommended viewing for anime and vampire enthusiasts alike.


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