In the 12th century, Kuro, the younger brother of the shogun, is trying to evade the assassins his brother sent after him. He and his retainer Benkei stay the night at the villa of Kuromitsu, a woman who lives all by herself in the valley. It turns out that she is a vampire, pursued by a sect that is obsessed with immortality. They attack while Benkei is gone, and the only way for her to save Kuro is to share her blood with him, thereby making him immortal as well.
But they get attacked again, and when Kuro wakes up again, it's a thousand years later, after the fall of civilisation. Japan is ruled by the Red Emperor, who is (also) looking for vampires -- this search takes the form of having his troops shoot down everyone they meet, too. Kuro gets involved with the resistance, because they know about the Red Emperor and Kuromitsu...
So what has really been happening is that Kuromitsu has been cutting off Kuro's head from time to time, and then transplanting that onto another body. Why she does this is not explained -- perhaps their blood hadn't been mixed properly enough before Kuro was beheaded. When she does this, Kuro loses all his memories -- but he does know he needs to be close to Kuromitsu. Kuromitsu dissapears, and Kuro searches for her -- until he finds her and she cuts off his head again. She makes it sound like it's an expression of her deep love for him...
In this 'incarnation', Kuro teams up with the Haniwa, a group which protects a blood sample of Kuromitsu against the Red Imperial Army. They want to use that blood and inject it into humans to see if they can create some sort of immortal super-humans. But meanwhile they are already doing that, so what is up with that? Some of the experiments 'succeed' (for some value of 'success'), the others are... disposed of.
Of course, Kuro and his allies are ruthlessly pursued, and they take the fight to the fortress of the Red Emperor himself, where it is revealed that Kuromitsu was there all along (so why would the Red Imperial Army need that blood sample for anyway!?)...
It just makes no sense, and the fact that Kuro has frequent flashbacks and memories and dreams doesn't really help putting it all into a single timeline. And the ending is really WTF-worthy too. Even more so than the whole series.
The series is pretty brutal. Blood is splattered liberally, and lots of grunts are mowed down in various nasty ways. The Red Emperor and his henchmen aren't afraid of a bit of bloodshed either -- the bodycount is enormous. The fights are quite well choreographed. When Kuro goes into 'bullet-time', this is visualised very nicely.
The visuals are very good, though it took me quite some time to get used to the spindly legs of the characters. Movements are fluid and fast, and the digital effects are quite good -- especially in the last few episodes, where all the stops are pulled.
But even then, it was kind of hard to get into it. There were a few episodes that left us wondering how it would continue, but most of the time it seems like a random collection of random violence. There's little method to the madness, and the plot (such as it is) does not really explain why things are as they are. Which makes the brutality hard to stomach, because then it is cheapened. The creators used violence as an excuse to get out of doing any character development or building up believable motivations.
- Great visuals and animation.
- Endless string of random violence;
- Pointless plot.
All in all, a 5.5. If you like your anime bloodthirsty, this is for you -- just don't expect a plot that explains it all.