Blade: The Animated Series

Blade: The Animated Series
The final entry in Marvel's opening salvo of popular superheroes re-imagined for the Japanese anime market is the left-field choice of Blade. Again plotted by techno-savvy idea farm Warren Ellis, this series is treated with a flamboyant noir design, which dovetails nicely with the resolute vampire hunter's stiff-jawed self-flagellation, brought upon by his gruesome origins. Infected in-utero when his pregnant prostitute mother was bitten by a vampire, Blade is an anomaly, a human/vampire hybrid that has all the demonic strength of his feral half and none of its weaknesses, save the insistent thirst for blood, which he curtails with painful injections of a special serum. (Redirecting his violent impulses into the zealous pursuit of the vampire who killed his mother probably helps distract from viewing humans as walking neck tacos too.) Ellis whips his formidable imagination into a state of frenzy, with a heavily researched travelogue of fantastical Eastern vampire lore guiding Blade's hunt for Deacon Frost and Existence, an organization dedicated to eradicating the pureblood, Eurocentric vampire counsel who violently oppose Frost's genetic experiments. While the core story is quite intriguing, the finished project suffers from inconsistencies and redundancies in the storytelling and animation even more than its brethren. The English and Japanese versions sometimes blatantly contradict each other on simple motivations and there is an inharmonious disparity between the sci-fi and fantasy elements. It doesn't help that the rules of vampirism bend whenever a character needs extra time to speechify. The standard special features apply: talking heads from the Marvel TV team indulge in obvious, self-congratulatory inanities while we wait for Warren Ellis to show up to elucidate the nuts and bolts of the story development process. Then the Madhouse team take all the credit and meander off on boring, awkward, cyclical tangents that are far from informative or fascinating. (Sony)