Saturday, March 15, 2014

Vampire Stories: Brothers – review

Director: Hikaru Goto

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

Vampire Stories: Brothers was the first of two related films (with different casts, I understand) the second being Vampire Stories: Chasers.

A careful search of YouTube will find this part with English subtitles. Unfortunately there is not a subbed version of Chasers yet. Because of this, when I settled down to watch the film I feared that the film would be left hanging, half a story as it were, with no current prospect of seeing the second half (un-subbed DVDs are available from Japan).

Ai fights in the woods
This fear proved to be unfounded as Brothers is a self-contained story. The story begins with the members of the Toshima University Ski Club at a gathering by a river, they are looking to have a barbeque. Meanwhile, somewhere else, we see a vampire dressed in black, Ai (Kato Kazuki), running through a woods. He is pursued by a group of other vampires dressed in frayed grey clothing. Suddenly he turns and kills one, who immediately dusts.

Sei collapses
There seems to be a connection between Ai and one of the ski club, Sei (Yanagishita Tomo), and Sei collapses. We see Ai fight the other vampires and escape. One of the girls at the barbeque was not a member of the Ski Club but Sei’s sister Midori (Suzuki Airi). She returns home with Sei on the bus and, as he sleeps through the journey and dreams, we discover that he and Ai are brothers and were adopted by Midori’s family. He also dreams of Ai’s twentieth birthday and seeing him with fangs and blood at the mouth but then he vanished from the room. We see Ai stand beneath the house rented by the ski club, his eyes glow silver.

recapturing family
The next day Sei is watching TV when the news reports that four bodies have been found – it is the ski club. He and Midori are questioned by the police; four of his friends are dead and two are missing. The four dead friends were exsanguinated but there was no blood spilled at the scene. When they get home Ai is there. It has been five years since he went missing, on his twentieth birthday. Midori’s parents are abroad and so she tries to build a peace between the brothers and enable them to recapture the five lost years. However, as Sei’s twentieth birthday is approaching we know exactly why Ai is there.

silver eyes
So, as the story is revealed it turns out that Sei and Ai are pureblood vampires. The vampires hunting Ai (and Sei, apparently) are hybrids – humans who have turned. Ai ran away when the vampirism – which emerges at twenty – took over and he didn’t know what was happening. He then discovered that to a hybrid a pureblood’s blood is a drug and so he stayed away to protect Sei. He has returned as Sei’s awakening will attract hybrids. Sei, of course, doesn’t want to be a vampire.

There is an underplayed love story between Sei and Midori, which the screenwriters feed into the tragedy because that is what Vampire Stories: Brothers is. There might be a teen angst aspect but ultimately it is a full on tragedy with the weight of fate pressing down on both brothers. Despite this the story is pretty slim (there are no real nuances beyond the story I have relayed) and so doesn’t really do too much.

facing the hybrids
Lore wise we have of course, purebloods and hybrids. Only pureblood eyes flash silver and they are more powerful than hybrids. Ai suggests there are only a handful of purebloods in existence and so the other black-clad vampires we see are presumably hybrids he controls. They cast reflections, can walk in the sun, they can move quicker than the eye can see and there is an indication that they can “throw” energy. There is no evidence of shape-shifting but we do have a scene where we see the appearance of two hybrids shadow first and their rag-like clothes and posture make the shadows look bat-like (I assume purposefully).

Vampire Stories: Brothers doesn’t particularly do anything wrong, but it doesn’t stand out or do anything mind blowing either. 4.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: