To be quite honest, the Marvel Anime experiment that took familiar characters such as Wolverine, Iron Man, and one incarnation of the X-Men and sought to tell an overarching 12-episode story was at best a mediocre, generic anime tale and at worst a complete betrayal of the character(s) being used to market these releases to fans. Thankfully and in hindsight, sadly, the final of these anime releases, "Blade" is one of the less-dull stars of the series or at the very least, a slightly less bitter meal after feasting on the foul rotten flavors that embodied the Wolverine adaptation. Running the same, 12-episode stretch of 22-minute episodes, "Blade" covers ground that anyone who has seen at least the first movie in the series should find somewhat familiar.
Right off the bat, expectations for the overall quality of "Blade" should be dialed back as the series, written by the son of the legendary Kinji Fukusaku, Kenta Fukusaku who is most well known for his work on both "Battle Royale" screenplays, chooses to resurrect Deacon Frost as Bane's main foe for the run of the series. Maybe it's a controversial opinion, but I'm steadfast in my belief only one of the "Blade" films was worth watching in the first place, that being Guillermo Del Toro's fantastic work on "Blade II." A large reason why "Blade" just doesn't work is the villain, Deacon Frost, who in the live-action film is weakly played by Stephen Dorff. While a little more ferocious in this animated offering, once again, the character just doesn't feel like an adequate foe for the daywalker. English language voice actor J.B. Blanc does however turn in a much finer performance than his live-action predecessor, adding a proper air of regality to the character and is a strong contrast to Harold Perrineau's intelligent, confident, and still powerful turn as the titular hero.
"Blade" like the other Marvel features, takes liberties with the characters including the back-stories, however, Blade himself outside the live-action films is safely classified as far less iconic than say Wolverine or Iron Man and the changes are less likely to stir unnecessary outrage. None of this however does much to overshadow the same issues the other series suffered from: too much happening too quickly and not enough of what's happening being engaging. Blade as expected is pulled into a tangled conspiracy of the vampire underworld and the series follows a path of one thinly written plot development after the other, and yes, reaches the point where it tries to spice up the whole tale with a pointless Marvel cameo, which is sadly, the neutered Wolverine of "Wolverine" and not the more entertaining "X-Men" version. The action including the predicable showdown between Blade and Frost might be bloody but isn't very visceral thanks to the stylized method of animation. Ultimately, "Blade" squeaks by with just being entertaining enough to make the time spent watching his saga feel like it wasn't a complete waste, but with the lingering feeling the story could have been so much more.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen is fairly decent looking. Although sporting a generally soft look, compression artifacts are kept to a minimum and lines are for the most part, smooth. Colors aren't on the darker end of the spectrum and overall, the transfer sports solid contrast.
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 audio track is slightly off-balance, mostly in the vocals department. It's not as immersive as expected, especially compared to the original language track. A Japanese 5.1 track is available as well as English and English SDH subtitles.
The extras consist of an extended interview segment titled "Special Talk Session: Blade and Wolverine." Two brief promotional style featurettes titled "Blade Re-Awakened" and "Blade the Vampire Slayer" rounds out the bonus features.
Thankfully (and sadly) as mediocre as "X-Men," "Blade" still suffers the inherent problems facing all the Marvel Anime offerings. The less familiar nature of the character makes the series a little more palatable as do the generally solid English voice actors. "Blade" remains however, really only of interest to fans of the character made famous by Wesley Snipes; non-fans won't find much to cling onto here and the length of the series will only induce agitation. Rent It.