Chiroptera, meaning "hand wing" and translated as 翼手 (yokushu, lit. wing hand) in Japanese, are hematophagous bat-like creatures in the anime movie Blood: The Last Vampire and subsequent series Blood+.
Their true origins were not known in the movie but were partly explained in the following anime series, Blood+, as biological weapons used by the US military.
The chiroptera feed off of fresh human blood and possess extraordinary speed, strength, and supernatural healing abilities. They are also capable of contorting and transforming various body parts in order to fly or have longer limbs. They are known to disguise themselves as ordinary humans.
The Chiropteran can heal almost instantly from any non-lethal wound. Thus, bullets are almost useless, and in most cases the only way to inflict sufficient trauma is to induce profuse bleeding either with high explosives at close range or a deep slash from a bladed implement at melee range. Their high combat capabilities makes such things rather difficult, not to mention dangerous. In the series such is rarely attempted, and their destruction is instead entrusted to Saya - introducing any amount of her blood into a Chiropteran's bloodstream instantly crystallizes and destroys them.
In the movie and subsequent PS2 game, novels, and manga up until the release of the Blood+ anime, the vampires are here revealed as extremely long-lived individuals that were members of a previously unknown branch of the genus Homo, or perhaps even a subspecies of Homo sapiens. They were at least equal or comparable to humans in intelligence, though their natural appearance was much like a large, monstrous, long-limbed bat - hence their name. The various media interpretations of Blood's history contradict each other in various areas; only the above is continually consistent.
The existence of vampires to their genetic cousins remained largely secret over the millennia. Having evolved parallel to humanity and being relatively few in number, they had the ability to compress their forms to mimic normal humans. Fertility rates among vampire females were low, and the race had a tendency to produce few offspring. As revealed in the manga by Benkyo Tamaoki, vampires were in a sense a commensalistic race more than a parasitic one - they depended on human blood to survive, but took in measure and did not kill if it could be helped.
With the rise of industrialism in the 19th century came a change in the human mindset and a thirst for immortality, the secret of which the vampires appeared to possess. In the latter half of the 1800s, came a member of the influential Rothschild family, many of whom were and still are noted collectors of such things as vintages, jewels, and antiques. In the novel by Mamoru Oshii, it is stated that one from the family's Paris branch, Maurice Edmond Karl de Rothschild (transliterated as "Morris" in the English publication), amassed considerable assets, among them a being noted in the ledgers only as "Saya".
The Immortality Project</br > During the period between the Napoleonic Wars and the First World War, a number of Chiropteran specimens were taken captive. The Rothschilds attempted to prove that Chiropterans were indeed of the same genus as humans, and as the study of genetics and genomics had not yet taken hold in the scientific community, there was only one real way to reach that discovery —- through crossbreeding.
Saya was the sole success out of several attempts; when the others resulted in miscarriages and stillbirths, it is said that she alone survived. This is technically untrue, as there were other survivors who turned out to be bloodcrazed yet intelligent monstrosities; these were abandoned by the project as failures. While her physical form is undeniably human, Saya possesses all of the strengths of her vampire kin, including their lifespan. Called "the cursed jewel", to humanity she is essentially ageless.
The Last Remaining Original</br > Since the end of World War II enormous amounts of capital have been invested in ridding the world of Chiroptera, and Saya has been an integral key to the clean-up effort. (Whether or not this funding is solely from the Rothschilds' own vast resources or a consortium of financial backers is unclear.) In an attempt to keep her under control, various amounts of Saya's history was fabricated; as such whatever was told to her and told by her may not be entirely accurate. Among these untruths was the claim she was the 'last remaining original', and it was believed by many, including Saya's own handlers (as seen in the movie). Sometime during the events on the Yokota Air Base in 1966 (movie) and the events of the Oshii novel ('Night of the Beasts') in 1969, Saya discovered her true nature as a hybrid and subsequently harboured an intense hatred for the humans who caused her creation - this does not mean all of humanity. Also in the novel, it is seen that the activities of the Rothschilds and their allies had not gone as unnoticed as they might have hoped, as even the Vatican has begun investigations.
Nothing of Saya appears on the historical record until 1989 and the events of the Blood: The Last Vampire PS2 game. After a flood struck an unnamed city in the Tokyo region, a young boy became lost. Seriously injured by a Chiropteran attack, he came across Saya, who was moved enough to give him a temporary measure of her blood to keep him alive. He lived in relative anonymity for nearly ten years until encountering Saya - as well as the Chiropterans - again; the reunion appears to have awakened his previously latent Chiropteran abilities. This is the only circumstance known where Saya has given a human her blood, be it willingly or otherwise.
The End?</br > In Benkyo Tamaoki's manga, we see more revelations about the past. This chapter of Saya's recent history has the most irregularities within the canon, which may be explained by the falsity of Saya's own memories (see above). Among the more notable events to occur here is the existence of a "prototype" Saya, named Maya and the imminent passing of David from the original movie. Seen in the PS2 game as having aged badly and using a cane (yet still active), he is by the manga's time a retired elderly man in a wheelchair. It is alluded that David was one of the few humans in regular contact with Saya whom she at least respected; he in turn was rather fond of her despite his gruff demeanor, using his pension to buy Saya a new katana after her previous weapon was broken in battle. At the end of the manga, Saya had truly become the "last remaining original". Slaughtering her keepers, including David's successor, an anonymous man by no means as tactful as David was, Saya was last seen walking away into the night. Her whereabouts are unknown.
In Blood+ Edit
The anime reworks many of the concepts from the above, with notable differences.
In Blood+, Chiroptera are an unnatural species, with the concept of originals reworked into 'Queens'. A Queen differs from ordinary chiroptera in two ways: they retain a human appearance at all times (note that this does not extend to anatomy), and their blood has the ability to crystallize chiroptera and transform common humans into Chevaliers. However, when a Queen gives birth, her blood will lose its power, having transferred it to the next generation.
A Queen will only be impregnated by breeding with a Chevalier of her sister Queen. Moreover, Originals will give birth to female twins whose blood are antagonistic to each other. This process ensures the purity of the Queens' blood.
Saya and Diva are the current Queens of their species, and were found by Joel Goldschmidt in the 19th century inside a mysterious creature found in Iceland known as SAYA. They are only awake for periods of about two or three years, followed by decades of sleep inside a cocoon. However, after Diva gave birth, she did not show symptoms of reentering hibernation.
Like their Chevaliers, Queens have enhanced speed, strength, endurance, and can shapeshift to a limited degree (Diva is able to shapeshift into Riku's form after being impregnated by him). In addition, these traits surpass those of their Chevaliers, at least when they are in human form. These enhanced abilities are proportional to how much blood the Queen feeds on: Diva, who feeds near constantly, freely exhibits her abilities, while Saya, who survives on blood transfusions, is usually around or slightly above human strength.
Humans transformed into chiroptera by drinking the blood of the Queens; they are mentally compelled to serve and protect the Queen that sired them at all costs. Their powers include enhanced speed, strength, endurance, and shapeshifting, allowing them to modify parts of their bodies, creating claws and blades to fight, and also changing their appearance and voices to disguise themselves. They instantly heal from any non-lethal wound like the chiroptera of the manga and movie, but a chevalier's need for blood is temporarily increased afterwards. Some of them have also shown the ability to project blasts of sonic force. There being little difference between Chevaliers and other miscellaneous chiroptera, it should be noted that having been fed blood directly from a willing Queen appears to grant this status. Other chiroptera are transformed via scientific experiments or other secondary or tertiary methods, and are not considered Chevaliers.
Originals are proven to be capable of breeding with Chevaliers of the other Originals, and thus it should be noted that all Chevaliers seen thus far are male. Though Chevaliers are obliged to protect the one who gave them her blood, the only way for them to produce offspring is through mating with the other Original. This is proven when Diva became pregnant after mating with Riku.
Artificial Chiroptera Edit
Humans used as test subjects for the experiments concerning the "Delta 67" substance, extracted from Diva's blood.
- Phase 1
- The basic form of Chiropterans. They have difficulties containing their aggressiveness and desire for blood. Also, they forget their human memories little by little. Virtually devoid of intelligence, their only focus is to feed off of the blood of humans and, at times, animals. Unlike Queens, their blood doesn't have any transformation properties. They are formed from a human whose blood has been infused with straight Delta 67. In appearance they resemble a horse-headed gorilla with fangs, similar to the Chiroptera of the movie. They are termed "Mouse" by the US military in the series.
- A group of black-robed individuals were created through Amshel's personal research by Dr. Boris on chiroptera. They demonstrate an intelligence and organization far superior than any of their other experiments, but their life span is too short - a visual signal of their approaching death is in the "Thorn" attribute, where increasing amounts of skin split in large and spidery bright red cracks - and are easily destroyed when exposed to sunlight. In order to reverse the thorn the Schiff must drink Diva's Blood. The Schiff, like most other Chiropterans, cannot ingest Saya's blood without being crystallized - unaware of this, the Schiff Iréne died after doing so. They then realized that it was not Saya's blood they needed but Diva's. They also prove to be weaker than Chevaliers and must gather in large numbers in order to fight just one, as shown in episode 21: "Sour Grapes". They are similarly disadvantaged against the Queens themselves, as the Queens are potentially much more powerful than a Chevalier if well-fed.
- Corpse Corps
- The final, improved version of the Schiff experiments. All of the Corpse Corps are of the so-called "Type-M", using the genetic template of Moses, the leader of the Schiff. As such all bear Moses' (albeit masked) face, a feature which the Schiff found highly disconcerting upon discovering. Like the Schiff, the Corpse Corps are extremely proficient with bladed weapons; where an entire platoon of human troops may be wiped out by a single Chiropteran, just three members of the Corpse Corps are seen dispatching a Chiropteran in seconds in a controlled environment. The Corpse Corps are marketed to various national military organizations as Chiropteran exterminators, ironic in a sense as they are little more than Chiropterans themselves.