Sunday, January 27, 2008

Blood+ 1

Once upon a time I saw a movie called Blood+. I don’t remember much of it, but it did feature an attractive, laconic girl with a pointy sword, and the animation wasn’t that bad. There was one scene in particular, with a monster roaring on top of a building engulfed in flame, and the point of view was rotating around it, as if you were watching the scene from a helicopter above. Most animation doesn’t try movement like that, so I was pretty impressed. That might not mean much, since I’m also impressed by a big stack of pancakes.

We start off today with a bang. I can only assume that we’re in Vietnam, because it looks hot and steamy—sultry,even—and there are soldiers and peasants, and some weird bat-dog creature is killing people. Suddenly, a feral-looking girl with a pointy sword kills the monster. Then she starts killing people, like a woman with a baby. Stabs them both with one thrust. Then she cuts up a man. The soldiers start shooting at her, to no effect. She skewers a few of them too. A man with a camera takes pictures of the girl as she stands surrounded by a field of the monsters. I have no idea what any of this means; I’m sure it will be explained later. Cue the soulful intro music. This is Blood+.

A young girl, Saya by name, attempts the high jump. It seems a lot of anime include the high jump. I’m sure it symbolizes something. Or maybe the Japanese just haven’t discovered dodgeball. Anyway, she runs at the bar, attempts a classic Fosbury flop, and everything is artistic. She looks at the clouds as she sails over the bar. She lands on the mat, but the bar falls down. She failed. Failed miserably. Her friend comes over and they lay together on the mat.

Eating a big box of food afterwards, her friend hugs her again, and they watch some American planes fly overhead. We have exposition discussion: the girls live on Okinawa, the planes are going off to war, and Saya’s memory only extends back one year. That must be pretty important. A boy named Kai comes to pick Saya up for a doctor’s appointment. I’m kid of sad that Saya and her friend won’t be hugging anymore. We focus in on some shoes lying on the group; will that be important?

Kai and Saya ride through town on a little motorcycle. More exposition talk. Kai used to play baseball. Kai’s father took in Saya, and now they’re all one big happy family. Isn’t that nice? They ride past the sea and Saya gets to look at the seagulls and glistening water. Going in the opposite direction is a big black van, however, and it’s bristling with antennae and radar dishes and other electronic looking thingies.

A voice, presumably of the van’s driver, informs someone in an office that they haven’t found what they’re looking for yet. An American military officer is talking to Van Argiano, a fancy-looking dude in glasses who’s eating candy. Two of whatever they’re looking for have escaped, and they’re most likely in Okinawa City. Isn’t that where Saya is located? I don’t like the look of this!

Saya lays in a hospital bed with an IV stuck up her arm. A helpful radio voice talks about some unsolved murders, but why should Saya care about that? She’s the star of the series. She’s looking at a bird outside the window. A blonde woman with glasses tells Saya to just stay still until her IV is done. The woman leaves, and Saya muses on the futility of attempting to defy fate. Afterwards she’s walking down the street. A crowd is gathered around a cellist playing his baroque cello music. Intriguingly, one of his hands is bandaged. Saya suddenly closes her eyes and begins to, I don’t know, remember things. She’s wearing a pretty dress, running down a hall toward a stone tower. She’s unlocking a door, and, back in the here and now, shouts, “NO!”

She falls over into some bushes. The cellist, a rather handsome fellow with long hair, stares are her, and Saya gets up and stomps away. She’s quite mortified. We can tell because her face is as pink as a cherry blossom. Saya rushes home and catches the other members of her “family” playing catch in the park. Apparently that’s illegal, and she suddenly decides to be lawful and chastise everyone. It’s all in good fun. Inside, she discovers that she forgot her shoes! She has to rush back to school to retrieve them. She makes her dad and Riku, her little brother, promise not to eat dinner without her. Just as she’s running out, David, a friend of her father, enters. He needs to talk to the old man.

Saya trots off after looking through a window at the two guys. She doesn’t notice the man with a huge cello chase staring at her from the park.
David accuses Saya’s dad of keeping her around to replace his dead daughter. His real daughter, because when someone dies you want to replace them right away with a stranger. David seems to work for something called “The Syndicate.” Original, huh. He drops off some money and leaves.

At the school, everything is dark and wicked in the night. A teacher sits alone in an office. A moth casts a huge shadow on the wall. She runs toward the tree where she and her friend were sitting, but the man with the cello emerges from the shadows and approaches her. She doesn’t run away, because rapists and murders never emerge from shadows, I hear. “At last we meet,” he intones, quite woodenly, and brandishes a nasty knife. Now she runs.

Saya bumps into a teacher. They look around the tree, but the cello man is gone. Saya is near-hysterical that she’s seen that serial killer the radio guy was talking about earlier. A huge hand suddenly grabs the teacher’s head and he gets yanked up into the air. We hear lots of crunching and snapping sounds. Saya, again, doesn’t run away, but looks out. “Teacher?”

His body drops back to the ground. A weird bat-dog monster drops down after him. Saya takes off. Two still shots show her face, the monster jumping after her.

Meanwhile, guys in front of electronics state that they’ve found what they’re looking for. Some helicopters take off. Also meanwhile, Saya’s friend brings back her shoes, and Saya’s dad calls Kai and tell her to get Saya. It looks like Kai is in some kind of alley, and that maybe he’s been beating guys up, but I could be wrong. I really have no idea what’s supposed to be happening there.

Saya runs into a library and locks the door. She lets out a sigh of relief, but the monster breaks through and she falls to the ground. She gets up, she’s been cut all over, and limps away. Saya turns the corner and waiting for her is the cello rapist guy. He tosses a knife at her head, but it misses at the last moment and hits the monster thing instead. Another knife stabs the monster in the eye! An eyestab!

Kai arrives and finds a dead teacher. The cello guy throws the monster away and carries Saya up some stairs into a science lab. Of course, we have some long, panning shots of the science lab. Cello man tells Saya that the monster is a “chiropteran.” It’s a blood sucking fiend. He opens a compartment on his cello case and takes out a sword. He also removes the bandage around his hand and reveals a twisted, curled set of claws. I would want to hide that too. He takes the sword and cuts his clawed hand so that it starts to bleed. Saya starts to feel uncomfortable, sort of like how I’ve felt throughout this entire episode, and tries to back away as the cello guy comes close and drips his blood all over her. He holds it up to her mouth, suggesting something. He really needs to work on his technique. He’s not smooth at all.

Saya tries to stumble away and begs for some mercy. Please! Put her (me) of her (my) misery. The chiropteran walks through the door. We zoom in on its wounded eye, which is healing up quite nicely, thank you. The cello man quite calmly drinks the blood pooling in his own hand and saves Saya from a swipe by the monster. He embraces her tightly on the floor and presses his lips against hers. It’s a very tender scene as blood starts to drip from their lips. Just then Kai runs in and illuminates them with his flashlight. I bet he’s assuming the worse. Then he hears a roar and shines his light on the monster sitting in the corner. Cello guy sits over Saya and tells her to fight. Fight for her life!

Her eyes go wide and she has a wicked flashback to her time in ‘Nam, when she went crazy and cut up all those monsters and people. Yes, she was that girl in the opening sequence. She remembers the cello guy standing over her. She remembers running down that stone corridor and unlocking a certain door, which, now, she realizes is something she shouldn’t have done. What could be behind that door?! Her eyes turn red. Cue end credits for another anime premiere. A young, hot girl with a sword. Sexually charged violence. A convoluted back story which I’m sure will be awkwardly explicated over dozens of episodes. Par for the course.

At least I liked the moth shadow flapping on the wall in the darkened school.

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