Saturday, December 13, 2008

Vampire Wars – review

dvdDirected by: Kazuhisa Takenouchi

Release date: 1990

Contains spoilers

This is an OAV (original animated video) and stands alone at some 50 minutes in length. The problem with OAVs is that they can seem frustratingly curtailed – much in the way that Blood – the Last Vampire did. A sense that you have watched an episode but there is to be no follow up – this is the case with Vampire Wars.

vampire terroristGiven that this was made in 1990 there are some themes within it that seem like they would have been picked up from current world events. For instance the beginning sees an armed raid on a facility by black clad terrorists – as they are referred to. Of course these are not your normal terrorists, one – a female – is shot. She stands before the defenders and cries “Vera Swaldi” (or so it sounded like) and suicide bombs. Strangely the facility they have attacked is a NASA one, home of project Prometheus – an attempt to make extraterrestrial contact.

axe murdererIn Paris, Kuki is awakened by a phone call. A woman, Marie-Anne is screaming, asking for help. She is a whore he uses. He goes to her apartment and she is dead, there is an axe murderer in the rooms and he quickly takes care of him but the police are already on their way. It seems sensible to skedaddle and then, in a faux-noir voiceover, we hear that he thinks something 'smells off'.

Kuki torturedHe bumps into another whore who tells him not to go to his apartment as the police are looking for him. Suddenly he is surrounded by secret service types but when they beat the whore Kuki snaps and kills several before being shot in the back. He awakens strapped to a table.

He is the guest of Lassar, head of the French Intelligence, who knows that Kuki is KGB trained and now freelance. He wants Kuki to do a job for him and electrocutes him until he gets co-operation. Kuki agrees and then, once out of the straps, throws himself from a window and gets away. He heads for his friend Muraki’s flat.

getting to bed the messengerHe and Muraki were agents together and were responsible for dropping an airliner onto the Tokyo financial district. As the heat is on (he has been framed for Marie-Anne’s murder) he goes back to Lassar and takes on the job (though this time for 2 million francs, plus he gets to bed the messenger who brings his payment). Lassar wants him to investigate what the CIA are up to (and wants Kuki doing it so that he isn’t seen to be investigating an ally) with their so-called project Dracula.

dying blood specialistAh… vampire reference at last. Because I was getting worried, we had what appeared to be a vampire at the beginning and then got lost in this thoroughly disagreeable, misogynistic main character who just happens to be a vicious terrorist himself. Anyway, not too long story short – the CIA seem to be guarding one Lamia Vindaw, a movie star. She has been receiving treatment from a blood specialist. Kuki watches the blood specialist and sees him attacked by a vampire.

vampire with LamiaHe goes rushing to Lamia’s hotel room and finds the CIA agents all dead and the vampire sat above her. It escapes (why it didn’t just kill Kuki I couldn’t say) and she seems remarkably unscathed. Lamia and Kuki then go on the run but the CIA, the French Secret Service and the vampires all want her.

a vampireEventually we discover that there were two mighty alien races. One was technology based and one was spiritually based and they went to war. The spiritual ones' leader, Vera Swaldi, was injured and fell to Earth 5000 years before these events. His followers looked after his comatose body in Transylvania and survived by drinking blood as human blood is rich with the life energy they live on. They blew up the NASA facility to stop the other aliens spotting earth (because the radio waves going around for decades wouldn’t have given our position up) and want Lamia as she has special DNA that is causing her to become a vampire and can awaken the king… phew…

Of course the CIA end up with Lamia and it’s up to Kuki to save her…. The show ends with little else resolved other than her rescue.

non-sympatheticThe animation is dated and, for an OAV, the frame rate would seem to be a little low. The characters are non-sympathetic and the situations are just accepted. This is a poor example of anime. I mentioned Blood at the head of this, and whilst that was frustrating as it was just a segment of a larger story we could at least sympathise with the characters, the motivations made more sense and the animation was beautiful. This isn’t a patch on that – or any of the other vampire animes we have looked at here. 3 out of 10.

At the date of review I couldn’t find an imdb page but the anime news network entry for the OAV is here.

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