Blade swears vengeance on Deacon Frost, the vampire who bit Bladeís pregnant mother and turned her unborn child into a human-vampire hybrid.
Another attempt by Marvel Entertainment to penetrate the anime market, Blade is slightly more successful than Wolverine, which is hitting DVD at the same time (the X-Men and Iron Man series were released earlier this year). This series doesnít make a bunch of ridiculous, incongruous changes to its central character, sticking closer to the Blade persona thatís been developed over the years. But like Wolverine, this showís plot is overlong, drawn-out, dull, and repetitive. Itís also cheaply animated and visually uninteresting. Every aspect is mediocre.
The folks at animation studio Madhouse claim this is a completely new take on Blade, but thatís nonsense. The Blade youíll find here (who is voiced by Lost alum Harold Perrineau in the English-language version) isnít too far removed from the version Wesley Snipes made semi-famous. He owes a bit to Marv Wolman and Gene Colanís original iteration, but by and large this is the Snipes character. Thatís understandable, as thatís the version most of the world will recognize, but trying to pass it off as something fresh is nonsense, especially considering that a large number of plot points from the Snipes movie have been borrowed (including something that resembles that ambulatory blood blister from the climax of the first flick).
As with the other Marvel Anime titles, Warren Ellis created a treatment for this show, after which Madhouse writers expanded and revised the plot. Iíd love to see Ellis turned loose on the character, as his febrile imagination could undoubtedly come up with some out-there vampire lore. You donít get anything out-there with this series, though. I donít know what (if anything) of Ellisís outline remains, but what is here plays like a Vampire Hunter D plot that was originally deemed unworthy but was later decided would work if another established characterís name was slapped on it.
I knew trouble was coming the moment a young girl swore revenge on Blade for killing her vampire father. I knew what would happen a short time later, and I knew what would happen even later. It all goes down in the exact same manner itís gone down a thousand times before. And everything else is just as lame. The conflict between Blade and Frost is really only dealt with in the first and last couple episodes. Everything else consists of repetitive fights, interminable flashbacks, and a guest appearance by Wolverine, who shows up in the sort of filler episode that gives filler episodes a bad name.
As is the case with the Wolverine-centric series, the animation here is cut-rate and visually unappealing. Limited animation is prevalent, and much of the action consists of still drawings that are fudged with speed-lines and camera pans. And you get plenty of those G.I. Joe-style bits where armies of enemies viewed from high above fire thousands of rounds at each and never hit a damn thing, which requires the animators to do nothing but use the same flashes of light over and over again. Shows like this live or die by their action sequences, and Blade quickly gives up the ghost.
The show is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio; the image is enhanced for anamorphic displays, and the twelve episodes are housed on two DVDs. The image in intentionally soft, so colors arenít as bold as one might hope. Banding is a problem at times (no surprise there), as are combing and aliasing (albeit not to the degree they are in the concurrently released Wolverine set).
Both the original Japanese audio and the English dub are presented as Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. The mix is suitably active during action sequences, but the rears channels arenít completely transparent in their integration. Dialogue in the Japanese track sounds fine, but itís a bit too prominent in the English dub. English and English SDH subtitles are available.
Blade Re-Awakened (10 minutes) covers the genesis of the series.
The Vampire Hunter: Origins and Adaptations (7 minutes) offers a cursory overview of Bladeís history.
Special Talk Session: Marvel Animeís Blade (32 minutes) is a collection of interviews with the animation team.
Itís not exactly awful, but unless youíre already a fan, thereís really no reason to waste your time on it.