“Dead on Arrival”
After a hard-boiled, but cookie-cut episode two, “A Night For the Living… A mourning for the Dead,” Blade Anime picked itself right back up and recovered nicely with the third episode “Dead on Arrival” that featured Noah van Helsing (Troy Baker) and additional back story on how human-vampire hybrid Eric Brooks turned into the vampire hunter Blade (Harold Perrineau).
Still hot on the trail of Deacon Frost, Blade calls in an old friend, Noah van Helsing, a descendant of Abraham van Helsing, to meet him in Kobe, Japan and see if he’s heard of where the four-fanged vampire may have fled to and he had a lead that the Philippines is the next hotspot. Noah finds a boat that they can hitch a ride and Makoto (Kim Mai Guest) tries to piggyback on their arrangement. With some money, she’s allowed to stay despite the captain’s policy of no women on board.
In the sleeping quarters, Makoto overhears van Helsing diagnosing Blade with a resistance to some retrovirus that is causing him to convulse in pain. While sleeping, Makoto tries to kill him, only to be thwarted by van Helsing. You had this feeling she’d make her move at some point. She always appeared wherever Blade was and even though she helped save him and detective Tamaka against a horde of vampire bats, you could tell that she still resented Blade for killing her father (that was turned into a vampire).
Noah van Helsing tells Makoto all about how he discovered Blade years ago in Dover, England, how he rescued Eric Brooks as he was trying to save a helpless woman against a mob of vampires. van Helsing made short work with his silver pistols, but he was mostly intrigued that Eric might have been the oft-rumored daywalker hybrid and gave him the last of the retrovirus in hopes of suppressing his vampire half so that he would no longer crave human blood to feed.
Noah: If it’s revenge you seek, and revenge only, then good luck justifying all the killing you’ve done. If (the retrovirus) works and you survive, you have to decide what you want to do in this second life.
From that point on, they fought as a team and Eric wielded a silver blade as his primary weapon against the vampires. Makoto remained unsympathetic until a group of winged-vampires called Mandurugos, native to the Philippines. Give the series some credit here, they’re exploring different types of vampires and tie them to the region where the story takes place. Blade awakes to find the ship under attack and begins slaying and saves Makoto–again–and by doing so, shows that he’s not like the other vampires. When they relaxed though, a Mandurugo lurking behind swooped down and snatched van Helsing.
It didn’t take long but I was instantly drawn to the van Helsing character. His loquaciousness was a welcomed change to Blade’s laconic style and there is loads of potential with him and Blade. He tried to help Blade from the very beginning and it’s nice to see a character and not always have some sort of suspicion or fear of some type of backstabbing. You get the sense that Blade is up against it, and needs some fellowship of some sort. Noah definitely provides that, hopefully we haven’t seen the last of him.
Makoto may be there someday, but the verdict is still out on her. I’m honestly not the biggest fan of her yet, because she feels as if she’s shoehorned in every episode but this character may undergo the most development by the season’s end and be someone completely different than the naïve vampire hunter who wants to avenge her father’s death. Let’s hope.
Makoto: He killed my father.
Noah to Makoto: You want revenge? You’re wrong. You’re trying to run away… as vampire hunters we fight the darkness of what’s in ourselves.
I cringed last week when they tried to take Blade into some gritty noir police story battling some urban legend and cat vampires. It also was the second episode in a row that had “Deadly Sword Techniques” to slay the bad guy and frankly, that’s a little too much Voltron-type crutch that I’ll jive at. If these moves are so badass, why don’t these characters use them from the very beginning? The “blazing sword” bailed Voltron out in too many episodes and I’d hate to see the same thing happen here. It’s strangely one of the things I like and hate about Blade Anime. The sequences are fun, but I just don’t want each episode to be about them.
Thankfully we didn’t see it, and the end of the episode caught me off guard. That’s a good thing because I was left wanting more. Though the “Deadly Sword Techniques” are bound to return next week, hopefully it’s in the natural flow of the action and not some big moment we wait for each week. I’d like to think that anime has evolved at least a little bit in the decades it’s been around. That said, I’m really looking forward to the next episode, as a Filipino-American I’m always interested to see how the Philippines gets portrayed and not just because I have ties there, but because it’s a different Asia setting that’s rarely used.
Besides this, the series continues to entertain on a late Friday night; I’m enjoying how they’re weaving a back story with the present day while touring an original setting for a vampire story (the southeast Asian seaboard). The action continues to thrust each episode for those needing a jolt of adrenaline, while the mythology is deep enough and smooth for the serial junkies like me to gravitate to. The thing that I like most is that even though this is based on the comics, I feel that Blade Anime is perfect for vampire fanatics who just want something fresh, violent and stylish without the worry of needing to read the comics or be familiar with the Wesley Snipes movies. Blade slices that desire, right on target.
Tune in Friday to G4 at 11pm ET to see if Blade tracks Deacon Frost down and whether or not he’ll be able to save Noah van Helsing from being another victim.