Set on a Japanese military air base at the beginning of the Vietnam War, a dangerous new type of monster is discovered: shapeshifting creatures known as teropterids, which feed on human blood. A team of secret American government agents send for a mysterious girl who is the only one able to kill the creatures: Saya, the last remaining Original. The moody and reluctant heroine sets out under the cover of being a transfer student at the local high school to seek out and destroy the monsters before they are able to kill again.
The first thing that is striking about ‘Blood…’ is the quality of the visuals. Since the animation was handled by the creators of the groundbreaking ‘Ghost in the Shell’, this is not surprising. The second thing is the amount of mystery surrounding the characters. Very little is explained about the origins of the heroine, her colleagues or their enemies. The teropterids are frightening and Saya is an interesting character, but there are a lot of unanswered questions.
And there is the film’s main failing. The fact that not much is explained adds to the realism and encourages the viewers to think for themselves, but leaves a feeling of being short-changed. The film itself (not including the ‘making of…’ documentary in the DVD extras) is only around 45 minutes long, and more could have been included considering the pace of the action sequences. The end result is an eye-poppingly brilliant showcase for how good animation can be, but makes it look incomplete, as if it is one episode in a series.
Although a masterpiece of the blending of CGI and traditional animation and brimming with action, atmosphere and suspense, ‘Blood…’ is let down by its frustratingly short running time. This makes it a phenomenally well-made film, but crying out for a sequel.