Skirts and swords: hype for the Blood-C movie

Blood-C received a lot of stick when it aired. Upon announcement of the sequel film Blood-C: The Last Dark, the series was labelled as a nothing more than a twelve episode trailer. It's not entirely unjustified when taken on a plodding, twelve week schedule; in aggregate though the series' strong points shine through safe in the knowledge of the next episode's position on your playlist.

the kind of trouser-stirring animation Production I.G. are capable of when enough money is thrown at them
The nagging unreality of protagonist Saya's situation never departs after the first of her friends is butchered and is only magnified when the wholesale slaughter is played out. The brutality of the monsters and their sublime indifference to the general populace juxtaposed the puppies-and-sunshine school life the opening episodes peddled.

The curtain is eventually drawn back though and the true antagonist, Fumito, is revealed as the evil doer with a puppet-master disposition. Which is where The Last Dark fits in. The gory annihilation of the idyllic country town the series is set in forces Saya to Tokyo and, one year on, taking on the organisation backing Fumito: TOWER. So far so mysterious, but will the film live up to the franchise's heritage with the divisive The Last Vampire, the fifty episode epic Blood+ or even the surprisingly enjoyable live action movie?

The most recent cinematic trailer would indicate yes. And then some. The franchise has always retained at its core the paradigm of a girl with a sword against demons most foul. Varying themes around that have come and go but that beautiful fighting girl and her inherent difference from her frail comrades is at its core. Blood-C played on this as each of Saya's friends were eliminated until nothing was left except for Saya herself, exposed, alone and near death from Fumito's parting shot.

That shot looks like it forms the beginning of the trailer with an eye-patched Saya standing atop the dishevelled remains of the hell bunnies that laid waste to her town. The next shot is in one of Tokyo's subway stations (it's impossible to tell which from the angle) and bears a resemblance to the iconic opening of The Last Vampire movie. Fumito's oni-masked cretins are shown firing what look like P90 automatic weapons - these are the same mercenaries who originally captured Saya before the series' start and also orchestrated Fumito's egress from the besieged town.

The rest of the trailer gives away very little else beyond the glimpse of a typical CLAMP character, some discomforting body-horror, the erection of a twisted skyscraper and a ruined city around it, and Saya's assault on Fumito on a spotlit stage. The question remains exactly what Fumito is at this point - the blows from Saya either miss him meaning he can move quicker than a human should be able to, do not connect such as if he were a hologram on the stage or he is something more than human and he takes the blows.

This final option is possible given the web-only trailer that was released at the end of April shows Fumito with distinctive, glowing red eyes much like Saya. Him as an elder demon would explain how he was able to subdue one of the monsters, albeit a half-breed, subsequently aiding him in his cause. This would also go some way to explaining his detached fascination with Saya's protectionist nature and his elaborate experiment that formed the backbone of the television series.

His inhumanity may be indicative of the human/monster/Saya divide that is also present in the critter slain in the opening seconds - far more the chiropteran shape-shifters of The Last Vampire than Geiger-esque nightmares of the TV series. The trailer also hints at some of the other characters that now seem to orbit around Saya and Fumito, one of whom has been seen in promotional material from the likes of Newtype. In all likelihood these characters are from Sirrut, the organisation that opposes TOWER and the suppression of youth within Tokyo that is the backdrop for the movie.

This raises the question of whether, like the series, the more fanciful fantasy elements - talismans, wards and rituals - that were only hinted at will play a more central role and be contrasted with this very high-tech form of oppression. Or it could be just another piece of CLAMP whimsy which seemed, for better or worse, absent from the TV series.

With the movie's release this coming Saturday, the 2nd of June, with any luck many of these questions will be answered along with the kind of trouser-stirring animation that the trailer sports and that Production I.G. are capable of when enough money is thrown at them. The question of whether it will opt for a more measured and subtle take on the Blood franchise or go all-out still remains but the more pertinent question may be that given the pillorying of the series, are there enough fans left to warrant the film?

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