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COVERAGE - BLADE SERIES REVIEW
Blade Synopsis: Eric Brooks – known as Blade – seeks revenge on Deacon Frost, the vampire who killed his mother while she was still pregnant with Eric. With all the powers of a vampire and none of their weaknesses, Blade's quest leads him throughout Southeast Asia in search of Frost. In the Golden Triangle, he discovers a vampire plot that threatens to take down the whole world.
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Blade Series Review
By James Harvey
Wandering the world, fighting vampires and struggling to resist the thirst, Blade brings the cult Marvel character back to the animated screen and – easily – this ranks as probably the best of the Marvel Anime titles. It’s closest contender X-Men Anime had great adult appeal to it, but the story was lacking at times (especially as it bolted toward its bizarre finale). Here, the creative team behind Blade seem to be hitting the right notes every step of the way, expanding Blade’s world in ways I would have never imagined.
Eric Brooks – known as Blade – seeks revenge on Deacon Frost, the vampire who killed his mother while she was still pregnant with Eric. With all the powers of a vampire and none of their weaknesses, Blade’s quest leads him throughout Southeast Asia in search of Frost. In the Golden Triangle, he discovers a vampire plot that threatens to take down the whole world. Harold Perrineau provides the voice of Blade.
While a few liberties are taken with the character, the Blade we get here should be familiar to fans, be it from those of the comics or the late big screen franchise. Decked in a black coat and covered in tattoos, Blade spends his nights hunting vampires, inching closer and closer to facing off against Deacon Forst – the Man with Four Fangs who killed his mother. The edge this series has right away, over the other Marvel Anime titles is that this series isn’t a direct adaptation of anything in particular. Instead, it’s writer Warren Ellis basically creating his own take on Blade and the character’s mythos and it works so, so well. While there are a host of subplots that carry from episode to episode, I’m surprised at how accessible each episode manages to be. We follow Blade as he goes on his hunt, resulting in some great one-off stories that don’t drag or meander. Pacing has been a bit of problem for the Marvel Anime titles, but Blade manages to avoid it for the most part.
The story isn’t really the most original – it falls along the same lines of previous Blade stories, with the hero on the search for his mother’s killer – but what makes this one so enjoyable is the approach to vampires taken here. We’re used to the usual stuffy, dressed-up types, or the more recent…er…sparkly kind, but here we get something completely different. Vampires here shape-shift into disgusting creatures. They’re ravenous monsters who are a sight to behold. Yeah, some fall along the standard we’ve come to see in past few years, but there’s some really creative and positively freaky designs here. One thing I looked forward to each episode was seeing what type of vampire would pop up next. Kudos to the creative team for really going out with the creature work. Trust me – there is some crazy design work going on here. Bird-like vampires, wolf-like vampires, and so on so forth.
Surprisingly, I think Blade has given us a more fleshed out version of Blade than what we may have gotten in the comics. His backstory is the same as what we’ve seen in the comics and movies – born a hybrid after his pregnant mother was killed by a vampire – but there’s a new layer added to his motivation that makes him sympathetic. His reason for killing vampires is not so simple. Sure, he’s still a silent killer, but his drive, why he does it, it’s novel. It’s not for revenge – that’s a bonus to him – but it’s to make up for the lives he’s taken before he was able to get his thirst under control. He’s trying to make amends and, frankly, it’s a nice new wrinkle on the character.
That being said, prepare for lots of characters looking off into the distance as the recount their assorted origins or motivations. It happens quite a few times, but by no means does it get really repetitive. It can sometimes slow an episode down, but only momentarily. The series does a fine job at balancing these moments with the heavier action sequences, which also look quite sharp. The animation can be a bit skimpy or weak at times, but overall I found it to be an extremely commendable effort. Everything did look nice, and some of the more stylish moments really popped out. The occasional freeze-frame moments looked picturesque at times.
Overall, I found Blade to be a great maxi-series. The story is top-notch, the animation is nice, the characters interesting, and the pace handled well. It’s up there with X-Men as the best of the four Marvel Anime projects. It’s shift in storytelling - focusing more on ‘done in one’ type stories with underlying subplots - helps the series to avoid the sometimes glacial past that slowed down the other Marvel Anime titles. In fact, Blade almost feels like the complete opposite of Wolverine, with quicker pacing and multiple storylines. And, again, some of the creatures designs on display here are simply fantastic, and definitely bring a fresh spin on a vampire lore with, here in North America, has been mostly condemned to young pretty-boys and stuffed shirts. There are some pretty beastly creatures that look great! Whether a fan of anime or Marvel Comics, this release is definitely recommended to pick up. The madness of Blade’s world translates perfectly to the twisted stylings of anime, resulting in a visceral adventure that’s worth tagging along for!
Continue to the Blade Home Video Release Review
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