MARVEL ANIMATED SERIES: BLADE – DVD review

“Blade: The Animated Series” is part of a project to introduce western Marvel characters to the Japanese audience with animation tailored towards traditional anime.  The plot of “Blade” loosely follows the earlier movies. Eric, is trying to exact revenge on Deacon Frost, the vampire who killed his mother while she was pregnant with him. The result of this is Blade being a powerful vampire that is able to exist in sunlight as well as night.  Deacon’s master plan is too obtain Blade’s blood and make an army of Daywalkers.  What has changed is that Blade’s combat skills are more aligned to Eastern fighting styles, primarily swordplay.  There is also more in-depth background information from his birth leading up to him meeting Noah Van Helsing (who is pretty much the Whistler character from the earlier films).  The series has some crossover with main and side characters from the other series, in this case, Wolverine make a small appearance.

The “Blade” series is less humorous than the “Wolverine” series.  The latter was bathed mostly in sunlight and had a light, easygoing flair to it.  “Blade” is a much darker story visually and is decidedly more violent.  More blood is spilt and more innocent human characters die.  It has more of a cinematic feel because of this.  Harold Perrineau is the voice of blade.  His voice may sound familiar to Lost fans as he play the role of Michael.  He does a good job with the material although I will admit I found his voice did not match the visual enormity of Blade.

The animation is similar to the rest of the series however there is some artistic flair thrown in to make it feel different.  For example, during most of the fight scenes there is a point where the animation freezes almost like it is a panel in a comic book.  It helps avoid being overly gory by hiding the action.  The added sword-technique pauses have a videogame feel to them as well.  The downside to this is that things can get confusing and you are not entirely sure how some of the enemies are actually killed.  However they always end up bursting into flames much like they did in the movies.  The fight scenes are entertaining and the enemy vampires do feel like formidable foes.  With the swordplay, there are many gun fights as well.  Noah at one point eviscerates many a vampire with a Gatling gun.

Video:
“Blade” is shown in a 1.78:1 widescreen, anamorphic format.  It looks fairly similar to watching on a low def channel on TV. Being that nearly the entire series takes place at night, it is rather soft-looking and muted.  Having said that, the image is clean and fits the genre nicely.

Audio:
It is presented with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track.  The audio is clean, there are many swords being unsheathed and bullets being shot and it all sounds realistic.  The soundtrack is mostly heavy, electric guitar riffs and some saxophone to set the mood.  The gunplay has some low end heft to it which helps it pack a punch.  The disc defaults to the Japanese track so you will have to manual choose the English track which I recommend.

Extras:
There are a couple of extras: “Blade Re-Awakened” and “The Vampire Hunter.”  Both deal with the ideas behind the animation and interpretation of the characters.  Fans of the Blade character might find this interesting to find out the motivations of some of the character changes.

Bottom line:
“Blade: The Animated Series” is serviceable entertainment.  The characters and action are all standard fare.  The real strength of “Blade” is its shadowy atmosphere.  It fares better than “Wolverine” mostly due to the elevated level of violence and some more background information on Blade that gives the story more weight.  The standard DVD video and audio are perfectly fine for this type of entertainment.  Recommended for fans and curious vampire enthusiasts.

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