DVD Review: Marvel Anime: Blade


Marvel Anime


Blade doesn’t fit comfortably into the Marvel pantheon.  As varied and ‘out-there’ as the Marvel universe at large may be, a secret world of vampires just doesn’t feel right.  Considering how many of them Blade encounters during a single day, shouldn’t all the other Marvel heroes be fighting them all the time?


Beyond that, Blade is just a really contrived character.  Like the editors got together and said, ‘hey, Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 6.20.58 AMvampires are popular, and so are antiheroes… so let’s make a vampire anti-hero!’  He’s not a bad character; but everything about him just reeks of desperation.  It’s like he’s trying way too hard to get the cool kids to like him.

The Blade anime series would probably be a very dry affair were it not for the inspired decision to cast Blade as a lone samurai, and to utilize the tropes of the classic samurai films to punch up the dark and flavorless style.

I’m not sure what Blade’s origin involves in the official cannon; but in the Blade anime, the character spent some time in Japan as a young adult learning the way of the sword from an old master.  He was one of two students, the other of whom was, of course, his rival (and a more traditional samurai movie character type).  Just to ‘Marvel’ it up a bit, we learn that that rival student was actually a mutant, with self-healing abilities, along with retractable palm swords (I think they were trying to make him Wolverine like).

Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 6.19.58 AMAnyway, in each episode of the series, Blade faces off against a monster of the week, and finishes each battle with a ‘Deadly Sword Technique.’  We know it’s a ‘deadly sword technique’ because the words flash across the screen right after he finishes (in Japanese, with English subtitles).  This is followed by a specification of what number technique he used (mostly one and two.  He uses the third, super-secret technique only once).  This tradition of naming sword techniques (and pasting their name on the screen) is something you see in the campier samurai movies; but it works here, and it gives the Blade anime a little bit of an edge, and some much-needed personality.

Blade is joined by a young Japanese girl, a concession to the anime format of this new series.  She’s fine as a sidekick.  She used to hunt vampires with her father, until her father turned into one and Blade killed him.  She tried hunting Blade down at first, and only grudgingly accepted him thereafter, but shouldn’t a woman raised in the fight against vampires know that Blade did what had to be done?

Creative flourishes aside, Blade, as a series, is just kind of there; and were it not for the ‘Marvel’ name, I doubt anyone would have noticed it.  It’s entertaining enough to watch (I Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 6.22.44 AMwasn’t groaning at the thought of watching the next episode, as I do with some shows), but I wouldn’t recommended running out to buy a copy this instant (though if you can find it for $6 new, like I did, I’d say go for it).


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