Archive for the Anime Category

The Geisha of Gore Attends THE NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL and JAPAN CUTS 2012!

Posted in 2012, 60s Movies, Anime, Asian Horror, Atomic Accidents, Based on a True Story, Cannibalism, Colleen Wanglund Reviews, Cop Movies, Film Festivals, Gangsters!, Geisha of Gore Reviews, Kung Fu!, Samurais, Yakuza Films with tags , , , , , , , on August 29, 2012 by knifefighter

THE GEISHA OF GORE Takes On:
THE NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL AND JAPAN CUTS – 2012
By Colleen Wanglund

Once again I, your Geisha of Gore, attended this year’s New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) and the Japan Cuts film festival, although this time as a legitimate member of the press. During the month of July I experienced some very cool films from all over Southeast Asia and in varying genres—not just the horror that I’m so overwhelmingly fond of. The NYAFF, which is put together by Subway Cinema and The Film Society of Lincoln Center, just celebrated its eleventh year, and it’s bigger than ever. Japan Cuts is a festival of contemporary Japanese cinema held every year at The Japan Society in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan and is in its sixth consecutive year. NYAFF movies are shown at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, The Japan Society (where the two festivals overlap and support each other) and sometimes a midnight movie at the IFC Center. Both film festivals are run by some very cool people, who welcomed me into the fold officially this past July…and that was due to the help of my wingman from another website, Stan Glick, who knows more about Asian films than most people I’ve met.

Opening night was a blast, as Stan, fellow Knife Fighter Nick Cato and I saw the comedy VULGARIA (Hong Kong, 2012) about a producer who is desperately trying to get his porn film made—an ambitious remake of a Shaw Brothers 1970’s sexploitation classic. Not only does the movie get made, but the producer ends up creating a viral marketing campaign that makes his movie a huge hit. The movie’s director Pang Ho-cheung took questions from the sold-out audience, telling us that the film is actually based on true events—which makes it that much funnier. It was filmed in just twelve days on an extremely low budget, and the script was written by almost everyone involved as it went along! It’s a raunchy comedy without actually being visibly raunchy or vulgar, which is quite the feat, considering the subject matter. I truly laughed so hard I cried. VULGARIA stars Chapman To, who starred in INFERNAL AFFAIRS (2002), INFERNAL AFFAIRS 2 (2003), and TRIPLE TAP (2010), and has had a long career in Hong Kong cinema. There is also the very interesting character of Popping Cherry, played by Dada Chan, who will do just about anything to get into the movies. How she got her name is priceless.

VULGARIA (2012)

Afterwards, everyone was invited into the theater’s gallery where we enjoyed some complimentary Kirin beer to celebrate the opening of NYAFF. The next afternoon I was lucky enough to participate in a press conference with Choi Min-sik, star of OLDBOY (2003), I SAW THE DEVIL (2010) and his latest, NAMELESS GANGSTER (2012). NYAFF held a four-film mini retrospective of Choi’s films, including OLDBOY, NAMELESS GANGSTER, FAILAN (2001), and CRYING FIST (2005). Choi Min-sik is one of the biggest stars in South Korea and for good reason—the man is a brilliant actor. I was thrilled to meet him and be able to ask him at least one question during the conference.

Below is a brief synopsis of some of the other films that screened at NYAFF and Japan Cuts.

NAMELESS GANGSTER (Korea, 2012)—Choi Min-sik stars as a crooked customs inspector who is about to go to prison, but finds a stash of confiscated cocaine and ends up a gangster, using his family connections to stay in power for quite some time. When he faces his impending downfall, he has no problem betraying some of those same family members who helped his rise in the Korean underworld. The movie is brilliant and if you get a chance, go see it!

NAMELESS GANGSTER (2012)

NASI LEMAK 2.0 (Malaysia, 2011)—Directed by and starring rapper Namewee, NASI LEMAK 2.0 is a comedy surrounding food….namely the national dish of Malaysia. At its core, it is about ethnic division in the country using kung fu, Bollywood dance numbers, outrageous stereotypes and surreal comedy in an attempt to get across a message of unity. Not my favorite of the festival movies, but funny and entertaining, nonetheless.

THE KING OF PIGS (Korea, 2011)—An animated film employing washed-out, muted colors and harsh lines to set the tone, THE KING OF PIGS tells the story of the effects of bullying on young school boys and how it continues to affect their adult lives. It is at times a brutal and unflinching look at how class plays a role in Korean society. Directed by Yeun Sang-ho, the film isn’t the most graceful anime I’ve ever seen, but it is based on some of Yeun’s own experiences while in middle school and displays its darkness effectively.

KING OF THE PIGS (2011)

HARD ROMANTICKER (Japan, 2011)—Written and directed by Gu Su-yeon and based on Gu’s own childhood growing up in a Korean ghetto, the film is a hard-ass look at loner Gu (Shota Matsuda—whose father was a star of 70s yakuza flicks) who causes trouble and attempts to elude payback among different gangs. He’s also hounded by a cop looking for Gu to rat out others, but just feeds the cop info on low-level drug users instead. HARD ROMANTICKER is fast, furious and violent, but an entertaining film for those who like the gangster genre.

ASURA (Japan, 2012)—Another animated film, ASURA is about a young boy surviving as a cannibal in war-torn Medieval Japan, who is then befriended by a young woman who shows the boy compassion. The Lord of the village is determined to find and kill the boy and things get dangerous for everyone involved. The film uses an animation process that involves 3D characters over a 2D painted background. The result is a beautiful watercolor effect with an amazing depth. The story is brutal and bloody, but heartbreaking as well.

NO MAN’S ZONE (Japan, 2012)—A moving documentary that was filmed by a crew that basically wandered around the 20-kilometer exclusion zone affected by the radiation from the Fukushima nuclear reactors. It is a few months after the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster, but some of the small villages and towns have yet to be evacuated. It is both heartbreaking and infuriating to see the devastation and the lack of response by the government.

NO MAN’S ZONE (2012)

TORMENTED (Japan, 2011)—Directed by Takashi Shimizu, Christopher Doyle was Director of Photography on this follow-up to THE SHOCK LABYRINTH (Japan, 2009). While not a sequel, TORMENTED (orig. title: RABBIT HORROR 3D) contains some of the same elements and places as THE SHOCK LABYRINTH and a scene from SHOCK is included at one point in TORMENTED. It’s a huge departure from Shimizu’s famous JU-ON films, but a fantastic effort.

HENGE (Japan, 2012)—Directed by Hajime Ohata, HENGE, which translates to metamorphosis, is a short film that clocks in at just around 54 minutes. It is a disturbing film about a man who suffers violent seizures and speaks in an alien language. Over time the man transforms into a bloodthirsty insectoid creature, but his wife stands by her man, even luring victims to the house for him to feed on. It’s gory and worth a watch, IF you can find it. Unfortunately it’s tough for shorts to get decent distribution deals. The film was shown with two other short films as part of “The Atrocity Exhibition.”

LET’S-MAKE-THE-TEACHER-HAVE-A-MISCARRIAGE CLUB (Japan, 2012)—Another short film that was part of The Atrocity Exhibition, this disturbing film follows a group of middle-school girls led by the psychologically damaged Mizuki. Mizuki decides that the girls’ pregnant teacher is dirty and her pregnancy must be ended as a punishment for having had sex. What makes this film even more disturbing is that it is based on true events. This is a fantastic film that will unfortunately not see a distribution deal because of its length, which is an even 60 minutes.

And these were just the films I got to see during the festivals!

Other wonderful films that were screened during the two festivals and must be seen, if you haven’t already (and seriously, what are you waiting for?) included OLDBOY (Korea, 2003), the cult classic starring Choi Min-sik; the bleak horror film GOKE: BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL (Japan, 1968); INFERNAL AFFAIRS 1 and 2 (Hong Kong, 2002/2003), the far superior original versions of Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED (2006); FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH (Hong Kong, 1972), one of the best kung fu films ever made and one that established the genre; ACE ATTORNEY (Japan, 2012) based on a popular video game and directed by Takashi Miike; THIRTEEN ASSASSINS (Japan, 2010) a samurai film, also directed by Takashi Miike; and ZOMBIE ASS:TOILET OF THE DEAD (Japan, 2011) the latest offering from Sushi Typhoon and directed by Noboru Iguchi.

The Japanese classic horror film, GOKE, THE BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL (1968)

NYAFF and Japan Cuts combined to showcase new movies, classic films, special guests, and parties. There were almost 100 films screened between the two festivals, and they get bigger each year. Some of this year’s guests included Donnie Yen, Choi Min-sik, Michelle Chen, Yoon Jin-seo, and Jeff Lau. I’ve looked forward to the festivals every year since I first began attending over three years ago. Samuel Jamier is the head programmer for Japan Cuts and would love to see the festival become one of the biggest showcase for Japanese films of all genres in North America. Some of the cool people involved with the New York Asian Film Festival are Ted Geoghegan, Grady Hendrix, Rufus de Rham, and Goran Topalovic.

© Copyright 2012 by Colleen Wanglund
LINK TO PREVIOUS COLUMNS:

The Geisha Reviews OLDBOY and Chan-Wook Park’s Vengeance Trilogy

The Geisha Reviews I SAW THE DEVIL

The Geisha of Gore reviews GOKE, BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL

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The Geisha of Gore Takes On HELLSING!

Posted in 2011, Anime, Asian Horror, Colleen Wanglund Reviews, Geisha of Gore Reviews, Gore!, Vampires with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2011 by knifefighter

HELLSING
A Geisha of Gore Anime Review by Colleen Wanglund

I love Asian horror films, but I also love Japanese anime in its various genres. Not all of it, but a lot of it. Some anime, which in a lot of instances is based on manga (Japanese comic books) is geared for young kids. And then there is the anime that is targeted to ‘tween girls. Even some of the action anime, while containing copious amounts of blood and violence, still have some very childish sequences and has caused much eye-rolling while viewing. HELLSING however, is a horror anime that is for older teens and adults.

Based on a manga of the same name by Kouta Hirano, HELLSING takes place in modern-day London where the Hellsing Organization’s mission is to rid the world of non-humans, or vampires. Centered around the Holy Order of Protestant Knights, they defend Queen and Country from the undead. The secret government organization is led by 22-year-old Integra Hellsing who inherited it from her father upon his death. Integra is a strong young woman, especially in her convictions, even when faced with her possible death and temptation. She is also the last of the Hellsing line.

In the first episode we are introduced to Alucard, the Hellsing Organization’s secret weapon. Alucard is sent to the village of Cheddar to kill a vampire posing as a priest. A police special operations unit was originally dispatched to the village but the unit was attacked and there is only one survivor. That lone survivor, Seras Victoria, finds the vampire, but is used as a shield when Alucard shows up. Seras agrees to let Alucard kill her and turn her into a vampire in order to destroy the priest/vampire. Upon Seras Victoria’s transformation, Alucard tells Integra to have her transferred to the Hellsing Organization. Alucard is now Seras’s Master.

Seras Victoria doesn’t quite realize what has happened to her. She knows she is a vampire, but she doesn’t know how powerful she really is. She has refused her daily blood ration, in an attempt to hang onto her humanity. Alucard tells her she must drink the blood or she will continue to get weak. During the third episode of the series Alucard offers Seras his own blood which would effectively set her free from the control of humans, but she chooses not to drink from him. She does eventually drink the medical blood ration she is given.

It is also the third episode that introduces Alexander Anderson, a warrior priest with the Vatican’s Section XIII Iscariot, which is a secret organization whose mission is to destroy all non-humans and heretics. Anderson has the same regenerative abilities and strength as Alucard and is called a Regenerator, although he is human. It is never clearly stated how Anderson came to have these abilities but it is hinted at being either science or divine. There is clearly a potentially deadly rivalry between the Hellsing Organization and Iscariot. Belonging to the Vatican, Iscariot is Roman Catholic, while it is stated that Hellsing is staunchly Protestant, and this creates a surprising religious undercurrent.

HELLSING is only thirteen episodes long and focuses on the Hellsing Organization’s search for who is responsible for creating artificial vampires by implanting a specially engineered chip (called a freak chip). Alucard faces off against the Valentine Brothers, who are artificially created, as they storm Hellsing’s headquarters with an army of ghouls. Ultimately they are no match for the more powerful and very real vampire Alucard and his compatriots in the organization. In the last episode, a final battle occurs between Alucard and a weird-looking vampire called Incognito, who says he was born to destroy. It is during this final battle that blatant hints are made as to who Alucard actually is (although if you haven’t guessed by now…).

The anime is dark and bloody and definitely not for children. There are some very gruesome creatures called ghouls that while made by vampires, actually resemble zombies. The ghouls are mindless and shambling and will eat their prey, as well as take orders from the vampire who created them. The story is a very good one and unlike some other anime series, HELLSING has no filler episodes that wander away from the main story. And while the anti-hero Alucard fights on the side of good, it is only out of an obligation to the Hellsing family that he does so. The main character of the anime is the police woman-turned-vampire Seras. Even though she struggles with her new existence as a vampire, she is loyal to both the organization and Alucard. Did I mention Seras is a redhead? Well, her hair is really orange, but you get the idea. One other very cool character is Walter who is Integra Hellsing’s assistant/bodyguard/butler. Walter’s nickname is The Angel of Death and he can still throw down when necessary, even though he is retired from fighting due to his age.

While an entertaining anime series and one of my favorites, I must point out that HELLSING does not faithfully follow the original manga. The stories are very different and the anime keeps a very narrow focus with its climax involving a character who isn’t even in the original manga–Incognito. Incognito is very powerful and said to come from the “dark continent” which is (usually) a reference to Africa.

 HELLSING is still a very satisfying series to watch because it is quick and to the point. It also has a very cool finale and ties up its story pretty nicely, for the most part. The character development is well-done for such a short series, with most of the important revelations coming in the last few episodes, although there are teasers throughout. I can’t tell you how many anime series I have stopped watching because of endless filler episodes and no actual ending in sight. What is also really cool about this anime series is that it has a more Stoker-esque feel to it, as opposed to the more science fiction feel of other vampire anime such as TRINITY BLOOD or BLOOD+.

If you want a little more meat, you could read the manga, which is more complex, involving the Millennium Group, Hellsing and the Vatican’s Section XIII Iscariot. The Millennium Group is basically a neo-Nazi organization and their purpose involves revenge for something that occurred during World War II. All three organizations come together in a violent apocalyptic battle in London. It is very different from the ending of the anime, BUT the anime still holds up well on its own.

In addition to the anime and manga, there is an OVA (original video animation) series called HELLSING ULTIMATE. The eight OVA episodes are more faithful to the original manga with just a few minor changes. As a matter of fact, the first episode of the OVA follows the manga’s first volume almost exactly. The OVA episodes are also longer than the standard twenty-three minutes of the television anime, although the length does vary from one episode to the other. Unfortunately only seven of the eight OVAs have been translated into English at this point (and I am patiently waiting for Number 8).

HELLSING, the television anime, was produced by Gonzo and brought to the United States and Canada by Texas-based FUNimation Entertainment. It is definitely worth seeking out, as it is one of the best horror anime out there in both story and artwork. It’s also got one hell of a soundtrack composed and performed by Yasushi Ishii.

© Copyright 2011 by Colleen Wanglund

Meals for Monsters: UROTSUKIDOJI: LEGEND OF THE OVERFIEND

Posted in 2011, Animated Films, Anime, Demons, Jenny Orosel Columns, Meals for Monsters, Monsters with tags , , , , , on October 18, 2011 by knifefighter

Meals for Monsters: UROTSUKIDOJI: LEGEND OF THE OVERFIEND
By Jenny Orosel

If you’ve seen enough hentai, you’ll know where this is going….

UROTSUKIDOJI: LEGEND OF THE OVERFIEND (1989) is a Japanese animated flick based on the idea that Earth is made of three different realms: the human world, the demon world and the man-beast world.  Every 3000 years the Overfiend is born, and will either unite the three worlds or bring utter destruction.  This time around, the Overfiend was born as a completely oblivious and sexually frustrated high school boy.  He’d like to be able to hook up with the popular girl, but at inopportune moments he blacks out and becomes a hideous monster.  Meanwhile, creatures from both the demon and man-beast realms are trying to kill him.  What’s a kid to do?

UROTSUKIDOJI is famous for being one thing—it was the movie that popularized the “tentacle porn” subgenre of anime.  Yes, this being Japanese, portrayal of genitalia would be considered obscene and, thus, illegal.  So whenever the demons or the Overfiend himself rape a victim, it is with giant tentacles sprouting from their bodies.  Most victims explode into giant bursts of light upon the tentacled violations.  Women, men, no one is safe from the tentacle rape.  There’s even a scene where an entire hospital is raped with enormous tentacles.  Not the employees, but the actual building itself.

This being the kind of movie it is, I wouldn’t recommend it for a date movie.  If your love interest doesn’t run screaming from the house, it isn’t likely she’ll be in the mood for much.  No, UROTSUKIDOJI is best enjoyed as a party movie with a small crowd of people who are ready for some shocks and laughs.  And drinks.

Today’s drink is a Sake Bomb.  Not only is it at least somewhat Japanese, but it’s quick to make, quick to consume, and quick to refill.

SAKE BOMB:

1 glass Japanese beer

1 shot glass of sake

Drop shot glass into beer glass.  Consume.

Sake bomb

As far as food, you’ll want some easy party finger foods.  Chips and dip work, even a veggie plate.  But, for a movie so famous for its tentacles, calamari is a must.  The following recipe is good for about three people, so multiply it out by however many people are coming.

FRIED CALAMARI

Buttermilk

2/3 pound squid (Tubes and tentacles.  Go heavy on the tentacles if you have the option)

1/2 pound raw shrimp (for the people weirded out by eating squid)

Cooking oil (vegetable, canola, etc)

For the coating:

1 cup flour

1 cup cornmeal

4 tablespoons garlic powder

3 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoon salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Line a cookie sheet with either paper towels or newspaper, and put a cooling rack on top of that.

If the squid isn’t already prepped for you, make sure there is no cartilage or eyeballs.  Slice the tubes into 1/2 inch rings, and if the tentacle bunches are large, cut in half.  Soak in buttermilk for a half hour.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot about halfway with the oil.  Heat to 375F.

In a large bowl, mix the ingredients for the coating.  When the oil is ready, take the squid and put it in the coating mixture.  Then put the shrimp into the buttermilk.  Make sure the squid is well coated with the mix.  CAREFULLY drop into the hot oil (you may need to work in batches, depending on how big the pot is).  Cook for a minute or two until light brown.  Drain on cookie sheet, sprinkling with salt.  Repeat with the shrimp (which, depending on the size, may take a little longer than the squid).

Serve with warmed marinara sauce, cocktail sauce, or an Asian dipping sauce made of 2 parts Ponzu sauce, 1 part Sirracha chili sauce and 1 part soy sauce.  Mix and serve either cold or at room temperature.

Calamari

To make this a well-rounded meal, sweets are a must.  For something that can be set out on a plate and enjoyed at partytime leisure, why not homemade gummy tentacles?  It’s a lot easier than it sounds.

GUMMY TENTACLES

1 small box lime flavored gelatin

4 envelopes unflavored gelatin

2/3 cup water

Mix all the ingredients together in a small saucepan and let sit for a half hour.  Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.  After the thirty minutes have passed the mixture will be a weirdly solid texture.  Heat over low heat until it’s completely melted.  Remove from heat for about two minutes.  Pour onto the cookie sheet in swirls and curves.  Depending on the humidity, it will take between 30 minutes to an hour to set.  Cut up in desired lengths.

Gummy Tentacles

One note about the movie—there are two versions of UROTSUKIDOJI: LEGEND OF THE OVERFIEND (not to mention four sequels).  One is noted as “Perfect Collection” and is the completely uncensored, 146 minute version.  The other has a lot of the more graphic scenes cut and logs in at 108 minutes.  Whichever version you think your guests will appreciate more is up to you.

© Copyright 2011 by Jenny Orosel

What a mouth-watering column!!

The Geisha of Gore Takes On: TRINITY BLOOD

Posted in 2011, Animated Films, Anime, Apocalyptic Films, Colleen Wanglund Reviews, Geisha of Gore Reviews, Gore!, Japanese Cinema, Vampire Hunters, Vampires with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2011 by knifefighter

THE GEISHA OF GORE PRESENTS:
TRINITY BLOOD: THE ANIME SERIES
By Colleen Wanglund

While I have always written about Asian horror movies—because I really think you should be watching them!—this month I wanted to start introducing our readers to anime. Most of you, I’m sure, have seen anime but maybe you didn’t realize it at the time. Ever see G-FORCE, SPEED RACER, LUPIN III, or POKEMON? Then you’ve seen Japanese anime. Anime (at least in the West) is just Japanese cartoons….nothing spectacular, just that they are drawn and written in Japan. There are certain aspects of anime art that do separate it stylistically from other cartoons. Anime gained its distinctive style in the 1960s and one of the most well-known animators—and a pioneer in the industry—was Osamu Tezuka.

One of my favorites is the horror/sci-fi anime series, TRINITY BLOOD. It started as a series of “light novels” (books for young adults) written by Sunao Yoshida and illustrated by Thores Shibamoto. The novels ran from 2001 to 2005. Yoshida then introduced the manga version in March of 2004 and it continues to be published to this day. The artist on the manga is Kiyo Kujo, who based his work on Shibamoto’s original designs. The anime version of the story appeared in 2005, but only ran for 24 episodes and stuck to a specific storyline. There are some continuity issues between the novels, manga and anime, mostly dealing with characters and order of story arcs, but the core story and major characters are the same.

TRINITY BLOOD takes place 900 years after Armageddon, which the Earth’s population basically brought on itself. The population of Earth became far too large for the planet to sustain, so humans set out to colonize Mars. While there, they discovered the Bacillus virus and the Crusnik nanomachines, both alien technologies. The colonists injected themselves with the virus and it changed them into beings called Methuselahs….or vampires. The Crusnik nanotechnology was implanted into test-tube babies, of which only four survived—named Cain, Abel, Seth and Lilith.

Over the centuries, war had continued on Earth, eventually leading to Armageddon. The colonists returned from Mars to help rebuild civilization, as they still considered themselves human. However, a war broke out between the human survivors of Earth and the returning Methuselahs. Now 900 years later, humans and Methuselahs live on the planet amid an uneasy truce through peace treaties. The humans are led by the Vatican, with the Roman Catholic Church being a major world power. The Methuselahs’ New Human Empire is based in Byzantium. For those who may not know Church history, Byzantium was originally Constantinople, site of the Catholic Church’s Eastern center established by the Roman Empire.

The Methuselahs do not need to feed on humans, but many people from both races fear and hate each other. Politics and mistrust reign. The Vatican is headed by Pope Alessandro XVIII, who is actually just a teenage boy who is uncertain of himself, to say the least. He relies on his main advisors Cardinal Caterina (his sister) and Cardinal Francesco (his illegitimate brother). The problem here is that Caterina is an advocate for diplomacy and Francesco advocates the use of military force. Cardinal Francesco heads the Department of Inquisition and Cardinal Caterina heads the Ministry of Holy Affairs, which oversees the AX, which is a special operations unit of priests and nuns trained to fight vampires.

One of the main characters of TRINITY BLOOD is Father Abel Nightroad and he is, in fact, one of the four Crusniks. During the wars with the humans, Abel took the side of the Methuselahs until his sister Lilith (who sided with the humans) was killed. Lilith’s body was interred in a chamber under the Vatican where Abel stayed by her side, in mourning, for almost 900 years. When Cardinal Caterina was a young girl, she wandered into the chamber running from Methuselah assassins. Abel saved Caterina and devoted himself to Lilith’s cause, the protection of the humans. Abel became a priest and is one of the founding members of the AX. Caterina and Abel are still very close. In his human form Father Abel appears very quiet and shy, and at times even bumbling; when he changes into his Crusnik form, his appearance changes considerably. His eyes turn red, his skin changes color and he has claws and fangs. At times he also has huge black wings and can emit pulses of energy. He doesn’t even need to suck the blood from a vampire to feed…it just moves to his body and he absorbs it. Even in his human form, though, Father Abel’s strength and speed is far superior to a human’s.

Another major character is Sister Esther Blanchett. Esther is heir to the throne of Albion, a small human country but probably the most powerful after the Vatican. Shortly after Esther’s birth, she was brought to a church in Istvan to protect her from the assassins who murdered her father. Istvan sits at the crossroads of the human nations and the Methuselah’s empire and is overseen by the Methuselah. Esther was raised by Bishop Laura Velez and when the Bishop was murdered by vampires, Esther became involved in the human rebellion, killing the city’s chief of security forces. When we are introduced to Esther, she has been fooled by Dietrich, a human, who is in fact part of the Rosenkreuz Order.

In the very first episode of TRINITY BLOOD, titled “Flight Night,” we are given a brief origin as to the time the story takes place and the state of global affairs. Father Abel Nightroad is flying back to Rome on an airship that is taken over by a Methuselah working for the Rosenkreuz Orden. For now, the order remains a mystery but it is clearly a terrorist attack—the hijacker intends to fly the airship into the Vatican. This is where we see Father Abel change into a Crusnik for the first time. We also meet Father Tres, another member of AX with the codename Gunslinger. Tres is also the only remaining cyborg of ten originally created to fight the Vatican, but now fights for them. And being a cyborg makes Tres one hell of a shot.

In the third and fourth episodes, “The Star of Sorrow Parts 1 and 2,” Abel and Esther meet for the first time. This is when we learn that the Rosenkreuz want to bring about another major war between the humans and vampires. Dietrich intended to destroy the city with a powerful weapon, dragging the factions into military conflict. Abel and Esther are able to stop the weapon, and Esther goes to the Vatican to join the AX.

Since the anime was only 24 episodes long, the story moves pretty quickly. We learn that the Rosenkreuz Orden is actually led by Cain, Abel’s Crusnik brother. Cain hates humans and Methuselah’s alike and, unbeknownst to most of the order’s members, Cain wants to see everyone exterminated. Throughout the series, Abel, Esther and other members of the AX stop potential terrorist attacks and discover more about the Rosenkreuz’s motives. We also discover that Abel’s sister Seth is the leader of the Methuselahs and she wishes the two races to live in peace. At times the AX goes up against Brother Petro and Sister Paula of the Vatican’s Department of Inquisition. They are formidable fighters who shoot first and ask questions later.

Okay, so 24 episodes and a quick moving story….sounds great. Some of the anime I’ve seen goes on far too long and strays from the core story. I suppose it’s like any television series that “ jumps the shark” at some point. The various arcs in TRINITY BLOOD all come back to the core story—two races of people trying to exist in the same space. It’s a very good story that flows well from episode to episode. However, there are many characters with their own agendas, so you have to pay attention. Don’t let that scare you off, though; the series’ continuity keeps it from getting confusing. While character development in the anime isn’t as in-depth as in the novels or manga, the main characters are suitably fleshed-out, keeping things focused and to the point. The original novels were targeted for young adults, but the political intrigue and the gore keep it just as entertaining for adults. The artwork is fantastic and very detailed from the characters to the scenery. TRINITY BLOOD is easily among the better examples of anime art. Abel in his full Crusnik form looks perfectly ferocious and the action sequences and visuals of blood and gore are beautifully done.

Another aspect of the story is the technology used by these civilizations. It’s referred to as the “Lost Technologies,” because it all seems to date back to pre-apocalyptic society, and not everyone knows how to use it. A lot of these technologies, particularly the airships—both civilian and military—have a very steampunk feel. Even the design of buildings in some of the cities, and the dress of most of the people, are steampunk.

I personally love TRINITY BLOOD, as well as the character of Abel. I know there are better series out there, like TRIGUN and HELSING, but TRINITY BLOOD fits into its own little bloody niche. It’s an entertaining series about two world powers in the midst of a Cold War, so it’s also a familiar story. Of course you throw in religion and it ups the ante. I like the fact that the vampires aren’t what you typically expect. They still consider themselves human and in fact eat and drink, just like humans do. Their appearance is the same as the humans, except for the Crusniks. The vampires are sensitive to sunlight, though, and the New Human Empire is protected by a barrier that makes daylight seem like twilight. I watched it for the first time as part of The Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” programming on weekends, but I have watched it over and over again online. If I can find the time, I’d really like to check out the manga. Episodes can be found for free on various anime sites on the web….just Google it.

Abel Nightroad is one of the main characters of the anime series, TRINITY BLOOD

© Copyright 2011 by Colleen Wanglund