Halloween Review: Vampire Hunter D – Bloodlust

In 1983, Hideyuki Kukichi created a series of horror novels set in a post apocalyptic future, where in the ashes of World War III, as humanity tried to rebuild, horror from folklore re-emerged to assert themselves on mankind – Vampires. Under the guise of “The Nobility”, they made themselves humanity’s new masters. They rebuilt the world, but at the price of humanity’s subservience. Humanity chafed under their yoke, and rose up – shaking themselves free from those who would treat them as slaves and food. In this world came vampire hunters who would try to hunt down and destroy the Nobility. Among them was a dunpeal, half vampire, half human, seeking to hunt down the race that created him. A man known only as D.

This series became incredibly popular in Japan, due to the creepy but stylish setting, as well as the illustrations by up and coming artist Yoshitaka Amano. The series received a movie in 1985, which was one of the first anime films to be released outside of Japan, and it achieved a cult following in the US. Thus, when Yoshiaki Kawajiri directed a second film in 2000, based on the novel Demon Deathchase, a US release was certain…

Note: This film was only released in the US dubbed.

Cast and Crew

Andy Philpot as D
John Rafter Lee as Meier Link
Pamela Adlon as Leila
Wendee Lee as Charlotte
Mike McShane as Left Hand
Julia Fletcher as Carmilla
Matt McKenzie as Borgoff
John DiMaggio as Nolt, Sheriff, Machira and John Elbourne
Alex Fernandez as Kyle
Jack Fletcher as Grove
John Hostetter as Polk
Dwight Schultz as Benge and Old Man of Barbarois
Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Caroline
John DeMita as Alan Elbourne and a Priest
Debi Derryberry as Leila’s Daughter

Written & Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Adapted from a novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Animated by Madhouse
Music by Marco D’Ambrosio

Available from Amazon.com.

The Premise

D is hired by an elderly man after the vampire Meier Link kidnaps his daughter. However, the Dunpeal hunter has competition – he’s the father has also given another band of hunters, the Marcus Brothers to retrieve his daughter as well. Also, as the hunt goes on, D learns that there’s more to this situation than meets the eye.

High Points

As I mentioned back in the Highlander: The Search for Vengeance review, Kawajiri + Madhouse = gorgeous animation. This has some of the best animation outside of a Studio Ghibli film. Also, the film’s action set-pieces are fantastic, particularly once the Barbaroi are introduced to the film.

Low Points

While the film is generally great, it’s not without it’s small unpolished bits here and there. Occasionally Pamela Adlon’s voice acting falls flat. Occasionally the animation gets noticeably clunky. It doesn’t hurt the film as a whole, but when the problems show up, they stick out like a sore thumb.

The Scores

Originality: This is based on a novel. However, it takes some liberties for the source material which, frankly, changes the story for the better. 4/6

Animation: As mentioned under the High Point, Kawajiri & Madhouse are a match made in heaven. There are only a couple of moments that I would consider sub-par in the animation, which are particularly noticeable by comparison with everything else. 5/6

Story: The story is nicely written, and in particular, it does a good job of establishing some additional information about the setting and the characters for people who haven’t read the novels. It doesn’t go as far as I do with the text above the cut, but it does go further then the 1985 film did. 4/6

Emotional Response: There are several points in the film that really managed to provoke an emotional response with me, whether it’s tugging on my heartstrings, or a crowning moment of awesome. 5/6

Production: Marco D’Ambrosio’s score is excellent, and kind of makes me wonder why he hasn’t done more dramatic film work since this. The sound design is similarly fantastic. My one complaint is that on occasion, the mix for the score drowns out the dialog and sound effects. 5/6

Acting: The cast here is pretty good. The film has some fairly big name English VAs, like Wendee Lee (who’s been in about 3/4 of every anime series ever), Dwight Schultz (Howling Mad Murdoch on The A-Team and Reginald Barclay on Star Trek: The Next Generation), and John DiMaggio (Bender on Futurama), who are bringing their a-game. Indeed. The only actor who runs into problems is, as mentioned in the low point, Pamela Adlon, who runs into problems in one particular scene with D, in terms of her voice acting. It’s not major, and I’d say it’s only noticeable because of how good everything else in the film is. 5/6

Overall: This is one of my favorite anime films of all time. In the small genre of gothic post-apocalyptic horror films, it’s definitely one of the top films in that genre and worth checking out. 6/6

In total, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust gets 34/42.

2012 October Countdown:

Oct. 6: Devil Seed (2012)
Oct. 13: Frankenweenie (1984 and 2012 versions)
Oct. 20: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)
Oct. 27: Sinister (2012)
Oct. 31: Ghost Story (1981– plus a review of the original novel)


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