From the Dustbins: Vampire Wars

The OVA boom was a wonderful time for anime.  Well, make that “a terrible time”, actually, because it was one of the greatest creative slumps the industry has ever seen.  Studios tried to rake in cash by appealing to the Western demographics that were wowed by the graphic violence and general maturity of titles like Akira, so they churned out volumes of forgotten pieces of trash that usually aren’t even worth the plastic of the VHS tape that they were distributed on.  I call it “wonderful” only because some of the greatest pieces of animated bullshit to have ever come from Japan were released as a result.

Vampire Wars is one such title.  It was produced and created in Japan, but its target audience is undeniably the Westerner.  Interested in bodyguards getting their necks ripped apart?  You’ll get it here.  Dig hot chicks inexplicably jumping into the bed of a protagonist whose name you’ll never remember?  That’s here as well.  How about memorable lines from the beautifully overacted English dub, like “I bet you fist-fuck your wife because you don’t know what to do with your cock!”?  This practically award winning stuff.

The story begins in the United States, on some probably unnamed military facility under attack by psychos.  They all die thanks to the efforts of the trained personnel with machine guns.  Then the narrative shifts to France.  What did the introduction have to do with the story?  One of the terrorists screams something before she blows up.  That something is supposed to be important, but it really isn’t.  We’re quickly introduced to the macho protagonist whose name escapes me.  In the first five minutes of meeting this guy, we watch as his girlfriend is murdered by a random lunatic, a prostitute he knows is punched in the face by a German brute so hard that her head nearly caves in, and he’s captured by a French politician an brought up to date on this whole political situation involving vampire freaks.  He gets angry, he gets a gun, he leaves, he returns, some chicks enter and depart the picture like stray bullets, shit happens.  It turns out that the terrorists were vampire-like aliens from ancient times who once fought a technological race of gods for galactic supremacy, and their king has remained in a coma for as long as he’s been exiled on Earth.  The blood of the protagonist’s charge, this pop-idol girl, is capable of reviving their vampire god-king, and doing so will save the planet, but it’s not clear why or how.  By the end of the film, she’s turned into a vampire as well, and she saves his ass by mauling some CIA agents to death on a B-52.  They fall in love and presumably live happily ever after.

So what does any of this have to do with vampires?  Well, nothing, actually.  The blood-sucking ancient aliens are about as close to vampires as this story gets, but that isn’t exactly uncommon in anime.  Vampire Hunter D featured a despondent immortal protagonist with a talking hand; Blood: The Last Vampire featured a teenage girl that sliced apart mostrous, transforming demon beasts with a katana; and the Hellsing Ultimate OVAs owe more to splatter-fueled action thrillers than to Nosferatu or Béla Lugosi’s Dracula.  I suppose the same could be implied from modern Western takes on the whole vampire concept, seeing as how the very idea of a vampire is about as definable and consistent as mud.  But regardless, it should be noted that the eponymous vampires of Vampire Wars‘ are about as looming, grim, suspenseful, and vampiric as bad b-movie villains in faulty costumes. 

On that note, it’s pretty obvious that the plot comes right out of a trashy pulp thriller—and it turns out that it really is based on a novel.  I haven’t read the novel, and I probably never will.  But if the novel has even half the amount of ridiculously hilarious dialogue or violence in it, it might be worth a flip-through.  The violence isn’t nearly as graphic as many other titles of its era, but the amount of blood spray and corpses is enough to put it toe-to-toe with most other cliché-ridden generic 80s action movies.  The character development is literally nonexistent, and the manipulation of tension is so laughably bad that it only exists to facilitate the expulsion of bullets and grimace-faced cursing.  It does well being a corny and unserious neo-noir thriller.  Maybe not as well as, say, Psycho Diver, but it does well enough.

My advice?  Disregard everything you care about when it comes to narrative and focus only on how badly it tries to be awesome.  But it’s entirely up to the audience as to whether it hits that mark of being awesome; it tires way too hard to accomplish way too little, yet the amount of senseless debauchery, incoherency, and brilliant dialogue manage to make it at least watchable and good for a round of laughs.  Tread with caution.

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About Merridian
Merri lives with his wife in the USA. He is a happy human being. He wrote for Forced Perspective while the project was active, and he is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of QNUW. His newest project is YNRI // Transcendence, dedicated to poetry, short fiction, and artwork.

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