Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: "Vampire Hunter D" Bizarre and Unique

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 88 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Kyuketsuki Hunter D (1985) – animation and video
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:  Japan; Language: Japanese
DIRECTOR:  Toyoo Ashida
WRITER:  Yashushi Hirano (based upon the novel Kyuuketsuki Hatana ‘D’)
PRODUCERS:  Hiroshi Kato, Mitsuhisa Koeda, and Yuko Nagasaki
COMPOSER:  Tetsuya Komuro

Vampire Hunter D – English adaptation
Running time:  80 minutes (1 hour, 20 minutes)
WRITER:  Tom Wyner


Starring:  (voices) Kaneto Shiozawa, Seizô Katô, Satako Kifuji, Motomu Kiyokawa, Yasuo Muramatsu, Ichirô Nagai, and Michie Tomizawa

(English voices) Michael McGonnohie, Barbara Goodson, Jeff Winklers, Edie Mirmar, Kerrigan Mahan, Steve Kramer, and Steve Bulen

The subject of this movie review is Kyuketsuki Hunter D (Vampire Hunter D), a 1985 Japanese animated straight-to-video film.  This science fiction, fantasy, and vampire film was originally released as an OVA (original video anime).  This movie is based on the 1983 Japanese novel, Vampire Hunter D Volume 1, written by Hideyuki Kikuchi with illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano.

Kyuketsuki Hunter D or Vampire Hunter D was an animated Japanese film or “anime” that had one of the largest cult followings in the U.S. for anime in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  The film was not a theatrical release in the Japan, nor was it initially in America.  As a home video release, this anime traveled as well or maybe even better than it would have as a theatrical release.

The film takes place in the far-flung era of 12,090 A.D.  Vampires plague earth, and rule over small pockets of civilization in a mockery of ancient feudal land baronies; in fact, humans travel, once again, by horse and buggy.  In a small village, Doris Rumm (voice of Barbara Goodson) hunts vampires and monsters, but she is also the object of affection of a local vampire ruler, Count Magnus Lee, who wants Doris to be his bride.  Doris’ salvation takes the form a mysterious vampire hunter known only as “D,” so she offers herself to the hunter in exchange for his eradicating the local vampires and their boss, the Count.  “D” must fight through a horde of demons, vampires, and assorted supernatural assassins to rescue Doris from wedlock with Count Lee.

The quality of the animation isn’t very good; it’s about the quality of TV anime like the “Dragonball” series that has run for so long on the Cartoon Network.  However, the character designs are very imaginative, especially the design of “D,” which was done by Yoshitaka Amano, one of the best known Japanese fantasy illustrators, animation character designers (“Genesis Climber Mospeada”), and video game conceptual artists (the Final Fantasy series).  Visually, bizarre images fill the film, as well as some bizarre nudity; in fact, the film creates a sense of anticipation as we wait to see what is the next weird thing that is going to fill the screen.

The voice acting is fairly good, but the English dialogue moves the story along quite well.  The music, a sweeping electronic score, is very nice and sets the appropriate mood.  Savvy viewers might catch similarities with New Line Cinema’s Blade film franchise, but Vampire Hunter D is more horror and fantasy, whereas Blade is an action/horror film.  While I have misgivings about the quality of the animation, Vampire Hunter D’s entire package is one of a highly imaginative film that should please fans of vampire horror, fantasy, and anime.  It has a steady rhythm of visual surprises that not only make it unique, but also exceptionally fun to watch when compared to most horror films.

7 of 10

Monday, June 20, 2005

Updated: Friday, February 07, 2014

The text is copyright © 2014 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

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