The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Blade

Title: Blade
Genre: Action
Company: Madhouse Studios
Format: 12 episodes
Date: 1 Jul 2011 – 16 Sep 2011

Synopsis: Eric Brooks is Blade, a legendary vampire hunter who vows to protect mankind by vanquishing all the evil vampires in the world. Unlike his human counterparts, he’s half-human half-vampire, and that enables him to walk in daylight completely unharmed, thereby earning a name among his enemies as “Daywalker.” He is currently on a quest to find the one behind his mother’s death, a powerful four-fanged vampire named Deacon Frost. He later learns that Frost is the leader of Existence, an influential organization that seeks to be power players in Asia by conspiring with both vampires and humans. His revenge gradually brings him to Southeast Asia, where he encounters people who are embroiled in Frost’s endeavors.

The Highlights
Blade: Completely dull; severely lacks presence and personality warranted for a titular protagonist.
Characters: Forgettable and disposable; yet another typical sympathetic antagonist.
Plot: Straightforward “good-versus-evil” story template reused in previous Marvel anime series.
Aesthetics: Murky; derpy animation gives the show a cheap C-grade feeling.
Marvel-Madhouse project: Buried and cemented for good.

The Marvel-Madhouse project has finally come to an end, and for viewers like me who have not enjoyed its take on Marvel comic superheroes, we couldn’t be happier. It got off on the wrong foot with its first series Iron Man, which comes off looking like a run-of-the-mill Sunday morning cartoon. Things then got worse with Wolverine, a laughable action fare which is best left avoided for any viewer. X-Men however is a little different from the rest and came as a tepid breath of fresh air, although it isn’t a great show per se. Now we have Blade, perhaps the least popular comic hero in the collaboration and, more importantly, the worst among the four series. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the show indeed turned out to as terrible as I expected; watching the project coming to a close is no different than watching a capsizing ship sink into the sea, so I was actually looking forward to just how bad the final series was going to be.

Blade is very much comparable to Wolverine in terms of where they went wrong, the first revolving around the cast. Primarily, Eric Brooks comes off as an incredibly dull protagonist who is completely devoid of personality, and this immediately spells trouble for a show that is entitled after him. The character severely lacks edginess and distinctive style, so he passes off as no more than a generic tragic hero who wages war against evil forces and seeks retribution against his wrongdoers. The rest of the cast is no better as well, since they are pretty much made up of predictable tropes: there’s the sidekick who eventually dies (no clues needed to guess who it is), the Villains of the Week, the cocky trash-talking baddies, and of course, the textbook sympathetic villain archvillain whose existence is terribly ironic since he eventually became everything he hated in the first place.

The next major flaw that both Blade and Wolverine unfortunately share is the overall aesthetics. The art is murky; it’s not deliberately grim, which is warranted for a series with dark elements such as vampires, bloodshed and human experiments. It’s just smoggy, which makes watching the series is like watching a foggy sky at night. There are also issues of shoddy animation, lame “Name that Move” action sequences, and inconsistent artwork where the characters’ faces vary from one scene to another. Making things worse is the generic and tasteless 80’s rock background music, which the show and its previous Marvel brothers are guilty of recycling among themselves. The production values are in summary so poor that it eventually makes the show a cheap C-grade feeling, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if all of it is because of budget restraints.

If I may summarize everything with a single piece of internet lingo, it would be “fail”. The show does almost everything wrong in every department, from a narrative that is ridden with deus ex machina resolutions and clich├ęd plot developments, to characters that are uninspiring stereotypes, to aesthetics that are just derpy. Blade is like a chipped and unpolished sword, and the titular character himself is like the tamer younger brother of his live-action counterpart played by Wesley Snipes who, despite the live-action movies being regarded as B-grade material, managed to incorporate his own sense of style and presence in his roles with his martial arts background. In hindsight, perhaps Blade at least does one good thing, and that’s signifying the end of a dismal collaboration project. It has been a year since it began, and I look back in retrospect to see how it all went wrong. “Execution” is apparently something that’s missing from their consideration, and as far as I’m concerned, if raving news on how Madhouse Studios were to make more adaptations of Western media ever crop up in the future, I have to take it with a bucket of salt.

The Rating: 3
6/10

Reviewed by: AC

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