Manga Essentials
Vol 2 - Blood, the Last Vampire / Perfect Blue / Urotsukidoji

Starring (voice): Youki Kudoh, Saemi Nakamura, Junko Iwao, Rica Matsumoto and Yasunori Matsumoto
Manga Entertainment
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 18
Available 02 April 2007

Viewers with an appetite for relentless vampiric bloodletting, Hitchcockian pyschosexual thrills and jaw-droppingly bizarre tentacle sex need look no further for visual satisfaction than Manga Entertainment's second series in the
Manga Essentials collection...

This is the second volume in Manga's Manga Essential series. While the first collection did indeed do what it said on the tin, this second collection is hardly an essential purchase.

Volume 1 had Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Ninja Scroll, while this second collection includes Blood, the Last Vampire, Perfect Blue and Urotsukidoji (Legend of the Overfiend and Legend of the Demon Womb). I think it's fair to say that this volume collects together three very different movies that range from the great (Blood) to the very poor (Urotsukidojo), with Perfect Blue being somewhere in the middle.

Blood (2000) is the most interesting film in the collection - and the only one I'd recommend anyone really should see. It follows the only original vampire left on earth. She is part of a secret organisation whose job it is to rid the world of a new breed of monstrous shape-shifting vampires. While this is a great movie is is sadly only around 40 minutes in length.

Perfect Blue (1999) follows Mima, a pop idol who drops her music career to pursue acting. A soap opera role is offered but Mima's character is less clean cut than desired. Regardless, she agrees. Reality starts to slip away as her pop idol persona appears to her to tell her what a stupid mistake she has made. An Internet site is discovered that describes every intimate detail of Mima's life - but no one could know that much detail. Her friends and associates are threatened (and killed) as Mima descends into a dangerous world of paranoid delusion. She fears for her life and must unravel fact from fiction in order to stay alive.

This movie is billed as Akira meets Basic Instinct... hmm not sure that that's really accurate - and if it were is certainly not the mix that would really drive me to watch it. The twist in the tale has been done a million times before (and better) but this is still quite an engaging movie.

Finally we have two movies on the Urotsukidoji disc. First up is Legend of the Overfiend (1993) followed by Legend of the Demon Womb (1993). I can't comment on the second movie because I just couldn't watch it. I had trouble slogging through the first movie and when I realised the sequel was just more of the same I feared for my sanity and switched it off. It's hardly the kind of movie that you'd show someone to get them hooked on anime movies. Mildly pornographic and more than a little dull mean that I certainly wouldn't put this on my essentials list.

There were plenty of extra content on the discs we got for review, but as the discs we received seemed to have been the original single disc editions I'm not sure how many of them will be on this new collection. It's unclear whether this box set is simply these three releases repackaged in a cardboard slipcase or whether Manga Entertainment has simply issued this collection with stripped down discs with no extras on them.

On the whole, £20 for this collection is not bad value for money - just give Urotsukido to someone you don't like very much and you have yourself two interesting movies.

Pete Boomer

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