Sunday, October 28, 2012

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: All Vamped Out

Uh oh…

Many people have a thing for vampires Whether it's stuff like Twilight, True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, or even the Blade movies, there is a certain allure to the legend,  and the occasional spin, as well. I've always been a fan of the genre, myself (not so much for the overt sexuality or gore that can be assessed to it), and there have been a fair share of anime titles in it, too, so in this Halloween installment of "Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month", we'll be taking a look at a rather broad range of vampire-based works, some well-known, others not.

[ANN Entry] [MAL Entry]

Hellsing Ultimate
[ANN Entry] [MAL Entry]

The first adaptation of Kouta Hirano's hit manga series was made popular not just by its snarling, charismatic lead, Alucard, interesting supporting cast, and wild action pieces (as well as one of the best dubs ever made on the English side), but was, particularly, by its rollicking and wildly-eclectic legendary score by Yasushi Ishii.

While it had its fans, GONZO's treatment was not as warmly-received when it came to its sometimes-inconsistent animation quality and storyline, which was anime-orginal in its last third, as the manga was still ongoing at the time. Thus, a few years later saw Hellsing Ultimate, which was faithful to the now-finished source material and Hirano's distinctive style (but also encountered its own Giant Robo-level production delays and studio changes). Unfortunately, the new, more classical/synthesizer-based score is vastly inferior to the first series', and from a personal standpoint, Hirano's rawness does not look too pleasant animated. Even more people loved Ultimate, though, and in either case, there is a lot to like for genre fans, both in lore and action.

Black Blood Brothers
[ANN Entry] [MAL Entry]

BBB was one of the final productions by respected Group TAC prior to its eventual bankruptcy. A decent tale woven around warring vampire factions and royalty, it is perhaps held back from greatness only by its production values (reasonably solid, yes, but the story really needed a high-quality one to work) and a "Mary Sue" female lead…

Rosario + Vampire
[ANN Entry] [MAL Entry]
[FUNimation] [Hulu]

Another vampire manga adaptation by GONZO, R+V is a decidedly different beast from Hellsing. It follows the exploits of a boy who is accidentally transferred to a high school not for humans, but monsters, and falls under the auspices of a cute vampire girl and a few other nubile females. As you can guess, this one is of the comedy and fanservice variety. It, too, has its fans and even got a second season (well, there was a "Season II" manga, too…), though I can't say I'm among its admirers, as I dislked the "dead-behind-the-eyes" look of the characters (the manga's no better, really…), the bland story, and some of the off-putting "tantalization" that took place. But hey, if you're into that thing…

[ANN Entry] [MAL Entry]

For a take on the notable OVA Blood: The Last Vampire, one would think that there would be more vampire action and violence, but instead, Blood+ focuses more on family drama and the machinations of vampire-related forces, with an amnesic Saya being forced to fight certain bat-like monsters and protect those she loves. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however, as the show has a good grasp of its themes and is a solid effort, through-and-through. Of all of the Blood entries in the multimedia franchise, this is one of the least bloodiest (thanks to its questionable family time slot when it first aired in Japan), but it does have its moments. It's also the longest, at 50 episodes, and still manages to incorporate enough vampire elements to make the aspect not seem tacked on.

Speaking of the franchise, its live-action adaptation  and its most recent incarnation BLOOD-C (not AT ALL for the squeamish or easily-confused) are also available for streaming. The CLAMP-ified latter may be one of the goriest anime ever, but it's also the most bereft of anything pertaining to vampires among the bunch (most of the violence comes courtesy of its horrific monsters). It's availability is also up in the air past mid-November, as niconico transitions its service to its parent company's global site, though FUNimation, which recently licensed it, is sure to have it available again in the near future on its own site and elsewhere.

A Dark Rabbit Has Seven Lives (Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi)
[ANN Entry] [MAL Entry]

Never seen the show before (beyond its infamous PV), so consider this a "blind watch" of sorts, but it does have an interesting premise of a boy who reunites with the girl--now amnesic--who turned him into a vampire when they were little. The lolis and "detailed" panty shots, however…

Don Dracula
[ANN Entry] [MAL Entry]
[Viki] [Hulu]

Last, but not least, there is Don Dracula, one of many shows adapted from the works of master Osamu Tezuka by his eponymous studio. Here, Dracula finds himself and his family moved from Romania to Tokyo when a company relocates their thought-to-be-uninhabited castle to the island nation, but only eight episodes were able to be produced, as its main financier at the time went bankrupt.

Of course, there are other vampire titles out there, such as 2010's top show, Shiki (already highlighted in April), yet another GONZO title in Trinity Blood, and a little show called Vampire Knight--the anime community's equivalent of Twilight (minus the glitter). So having some happy viewings, and a happy Halloween!


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