Vampire Wars Anime Review
US Release By
What do NASA, Paris, an idol star, a terrorist and vampires have in common? They're all stuffed into a 60-minute OAV known as Vampire Wars.
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Vampire Wars is the kind of title that you know is going to be bad--judge this one by the cover, and judge harshly. I rented this title so I could see how bad it was, and believe me, this one is awfully close to the bottom of the barrel. The choppy plot ranges from senseless to silly, the wild collection of junk in there is jumbled together, and there isn't even very much time spent fighting vampires. The characters are also an unappealing and underdeveloped bunch. It doesn't even look good--bland, ugly, and cheaply animated (the synthesized music is equally cheap an unappealing). The voice acting isn't completely awful, but that's about the most positive thing that can be said about it--unimpressive in Japanese and cheesy in English, though the dub is loaded up with swearing.
If this is the first time you've heard of this show, by all means don't look for it. It's not even good in a bad way. Even people who are especially interested in vampires will likely walk away sorely disappointed.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Vampire Wars is the kind of title that you know is going to be bad. I know you may be thinking, "don't judge a book by it's cover," but in this case I would suggest you judge this one by the cover, and judge harshly. I rented this title so I could see how bad it was, and believe me, this one is awfully close to the bottom of the barrel.
To me, there was nothing appealing about Vampire Wars at all. This is coming from someone who saw potential in Sin. Where should I start? The plot I suppose. Well, I didn't even bother writing up a decent plot summary. Is it because I'm lazy? Well, I am, but in this case I couldn't find a way to formulate a coherent summary of this show. It has all the stuff I listed, but everything is jumbled together. The plot progression just gets choppy and uneven as the OAV moves along. The concepts presented to get things moving are downright implausible, senseless and totally silly. It also doesn't help that the story is very cliche and convenient. For example, after our "hero" Kosaburo Kuki discovers the whereabouts of the damsel in distress, her mother just happens to have a helicopter that she uses to fly him over. Soon after, Kuki shoots one of those huge, stoic bodyguards (you know the type) full of bullets, but is still able to get the information he needs from him before he croaks. To add even more salt to the wound, the story doesn't even conclude. It just cuts off abruptly on a cliffhanger, with no continuation in sight. (heck, the word "end" appears after the credits.) One thing I should mention is that Kuki spends very little time fighting vampires. In fact, for a show titled "Vampire Wars," there is precious little screen time for the little neck-biters.
The characters are also an unappealing bunch. To be fair, their pasts are so poorly explained that there's no hope anyone can empathize with them. The main character, Kosaburo Kuki, is completely unlikable. He's crude, blunt and mean. That didn't bother me at first since, being a terrorist and all, he's not supposed to be liked. However, due to that brilliant plot progression I mentioned earlier, Kuki is suddenly becomes Mr. Hero, who cares a great deal about the damsel in distress and simply must save her from certain evil. That's all well and good, but there was nothing done to show Kuki was starting to change. One minute he's being his crude, unlikable self and the next minute he's still unlikable, but gives a damn. Kiki, the aforementioned damsel, isn't so much unlikable as she is forgettable. As a character she's so poorly defined that I couldn't care about the things that happened to her even if I wanted to. All the other characters are flat and not worth mentioning.
Artistically, Vampire Wars is bland and ugly. The art is not appealing, the backgrounds are unremarkable at best and the entire show looks fairly cheap. The character designs, while leaning toward older and realistic-looking, are pretty ugly for the most part, though perhaps passable on one of the vampires and a few women. The animation quality is sometimes passable but is oftentimes stilted and unnatural, with a few scenes having a surprisingly low frame-rate. This show doesn't look like an OAV, even if it is from the early '90s.
The Japanese acting isn't completely awful, but isn't particularly good. Good ol' Kuki has a deep, monotone voice that makes the character all the more unlikable. I guess the only other voice worth mentioning is Kiki's, simply because one of her emotional scenes, while not terribly convincing, wasn't outright bad either. The rest of the voices were indistinct and standard. As for the English, it was pretty cheesy, but also not completely awful. Kuki's voice isn't as deep and monotone, thus giving the character a little more personality. Some of the bad guys weren't bad in a cheesy sort of way and none of the English acting was absolutely terrible. However, the amount of swearing in the script, while not as bad as I've heard in the past, certainly didn't help. I'd cast my vote in favor of the original version if I had to choose, but I wouldn't recommend this show in any language.
The background music was overly synthesized, cheap-sounding and unappealing. The end song was equally cheesy and the sound effects were very cheap and generic.
Vampire Wars isn't popular here and I sincerely doubt it's known any better in Japan. There's a reason for that. If this is the first time you've heard of this show, by all means don't look for it. It's not even good in a bad way. Even people who are especially interested in vampires will likely walk away sorely disappointed.
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Darn near any vampire anime is better then this, so take your pick. If you're looking for something as bad as this one, check out Psychic Wars. (Actually, that one may be worse...)
Notes and Trivia
Vampire Wars is based on a series of eleven novels of the same name by Kiyoshi Kasai, first published between 1982 and 1989. There have been a couple of re-releases since then, and the most recent (mid '00s) uses cover art styled after the anime version (the previous ones used traditional, non-anime horror novel art). Note that while the title is written with the Japanese characters for "Sensou" ("war"), it is usually subtitled "Wars" (in English), so it's reasonable to say that the original title is indeed "Vampire Wars."
The Sci Fi Channel also made a movie in 2005, apparently unrelated but vaguely similar sounding (perhaps inspired by this?) titled Bloodsuckers that goes by the title "Vampire Wars: Battle for the Universe" on the DVD.
US DVD Review
Manga's disc is about what I would have expected. The video isn't terrible, but it's soft and kinda grainy at times. I noticed a bit of ghosting and a fair bit of edge enhancement as well. The audio is offered in a 5.1 mix in English only (which I didn't get to test), along with fairly decent 2-channel English and Japanese mixes. A literal English subtitle track for the Japanese language is also provided. Blandly animated menus give access to a scene selection that doesn't have enough chapters, the standard Manga extras and nothing else. (how much extra material would you expect for a little-known show like this?) At least Manga provided a fully credited Japanese cast listing in addition to a small, jumbled English cast.
16-up; has some graphic violence along with some mature themes. Put the kiddies to bed for this one.
Violence: 3 - Even the vampire bits are excessively gory.
Nudity: 2 - Nothing is ever shown.
Sex/Mature Themes: 3 - Kuki gets it on with some complete stranger.
Language: 2 - The subtitles had some profanity, but it seemed accurate. The dub would rank about a 3, though.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
Kosaburo Kuki: Masashi Sugawara
KIki: Yuka Koyama
Charlie Milan: Takeshi Aono
Lasaar: Toshiya Ueda
Girvert: Michiko Abe
Corve: Yusaku Yara
Dr. Jan Lui Bran: Masaya Taki
Brigit: Yuko Mita
Marguerite: Megumi Terase
Marianne: Hiroki Emori
Arms dealer: Hirohiko Kakegawa
Newscaster: Yukimasa Kishino
SDECE: Nabuo Satouchi
Bell Boy: Hikaru Midorikawa
Murak: Kaneto Shiozawa
Mircha: Shuuichi Ikeda
English Dub Cast
Roger May, Alan Blyton, Johnathan Keeble, Lesley Rooney, Julia Brahms, Frank Rozelaar Green, Sarah Wateridge, Robert Chase, Eric Flynn, Peter Marinker