The new anime series based on the Blade vampire story is an action-packed, stylized adaptation that’s definitely not for children. Featuring the voice of Harold Perrineau as the title character, Blade spills a lot of blood over the course of 12 episodes.
What viewers will likely remember most from the series is not the plot, characters or any individual episode. Instead, they’re likely to be impressed by the amazing animated style.
Pulling from several traditions, the creators of this new Blade don’t just tell a linear story from beginning to end. They have chosen to bring the vampire hunter to life with an artistic excellence, so much so that it takes away from the otherwise fine writing and voice work.
One could say that the stylization overtakes each episode, which runs roughly 25 minutes in length. No one ever enters or exits a room with a typical pace. They need to fly in or barge in, all to the backdrop of shadows, blazing color and heightened sound effects. Victims are dispatched quickly, but always with flair. When Blade utilizes his long sword, it cuts through the screen, landing on his victims’s necks only after lighting up the room.
After rushing through his origin story (typical superhero tale: mother died in an alleyway; life of revenge), the series skips over to Asia as the hunter looks for other hunters. In this case, Blade sets his eyes on Frost, the vampire who killed his mother, and an organization known as Existence.
The problem with the Blade anime series is the same problem that dogs so many vampire tales. Most movies and television shows nowadays recast bloodsucker stories in a strange techno-music light. It seems like the whole world is part of one large rave. Music blasts. Parties are nonstop. Violence and sex are intertwined. It’s been seen and heard a million times over, and Blade decides to embrace most of the cliches.
Another issue with the anime is a character flaw for the entire Blade mythos. Because he’s neither human nor vampire (technically), Eric Brooks is a distant hero. He kills unmercifully and never stops to take a breath. We only know him as a killing machine, and after spending 12 episodes with him, our interest level begins to wane. There needs to be something beyond the anime theatrics. We need to know what makes this character tick, and I’m not talking about another “alleyway origin” story. Those serve their purpose for a few minutes, but then the main character needs to sustain our dedication to the series.
Blade, directed by Mitsuyuki Masuhara, looks the part, but doesn’t jump beyond the spectacle.
By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
Blade: Marvel Animated Series
Now available on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Features 12 episodes and all-new featurettes
Running time: 282 minutes