The Drudgeon reviews Vampire Hunter D

Vampire Hunter Daka Kyûketsuki Hantâ D (Original Title)
80 min., 1985
Written by Yasushi Hirano
Directed by Toyoo Ashida
Language: Japanese
My rating: ★★★★

A good 80’s anime.

* * *

The movie begins with a young girl named Doris (Michie Tomizawa) fighting off a strange creature that is on her land.  After shooting and thinking that she killed it, it springs back to life and bites her horse, Luke.  She shoots it some more until it is finally dead, but that is when a werewolf pops up behind the horse, bites it and runs off with it.  Next a strange man, who turns out to be Count Magnus Lee (Seizō Katō) appears before her, bears his vampire teeth and bites Doris.  We next meet a man on a horse, D (Kaneto Shiozawa), who is confronted by Doris and she asks if he is a hunter.  He doesn’t answer so she decides to test his skill, it turns out that he is a hunter and he ends up taking her “case”.  After meeting some more of the cast including Doris’s little brother Dan (Keiko Toda), Magnus Lee’s daughter Ramica (Satoko Kitō), one of Magnus Lee’s mutant servants Ray (Kazuyuki Sogabe), town rich asshole Greco (Yūsaku Yara) and D’s left hand (Ichirō Nagai), Doris is captured and D must go to her rescue.  Is his Dampiel blood strong enough to take down a 10,000 year old vampire or will Doris become Magnus Lee’s new bride?

Not being able to understand Japanese, it is pretty hard to nail down what good voice acting sounds like.  In English I can pick it out, but I really have a hard time with other languages, especially when it’s voice acting.  As far as I can tell the voice acting of the movie is dead on.  Kaneto Shiozawa voices D with a great sound of authority and care at the same time.  Seizō Katō makes Magnus Lee sound so bored with everything that is going on and that is just perfect for the character.  Being 10,000 years old would (as they do state in the movie) really be fucking boring.  Michie Tomizawa brings in a really good performance as Doris, being tough but vulnerable is really hard to do just through your voice, but she does it with believability.  The rest of the cast bring in good performances as well and no one seems to drop the ball at any time which I rarely see in any form of animation (anime or not).

The biggest stamp of a date for the movie is with the animation.  It is very VERY 80’s.  Does that make it bad?  Nope.  Okay maybe to newer fans of anime it may be a problem, but it still looks good to me.  It’s not as streamlined as the newer anime and you can see that some of the backgrounds were just kinda tossed together and that they even reuse the same shot a few times, but fuck it, it was the 80’s and anime was still maturing.  It still looks nice even with all the flaws.

In the end this is a really good anime, but it does show it’s age at times.  It has good acting and the animation is still pretty good, but the best thing about the movie is the story.  You have both the vampire antihero and the nasty vampire.  Having a 10,000 year old vampire is very different than a few hundred year old and he has a very different outlook on everything.  It’s a take on the vampire that I haven’t seen anywhere else and this movie just does a great job.

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About The Drudgeon

I don't remember my real name or where I came from. All I know is that I'm traped in an underground cave with nothing but a TV, DVD player and a notebook and pen. They keep calling me The Drudgeon, I don't even know what that means. Someone keeps dropping horror movies in and yelling at me to watch them and write about what I watch. Then I eat the DVD and case, because they tell me if I consume the horror I will understand the horror. I think there are three of them. So if you are reading this right now, HELP ME!!!!!!! OUCH!!!! Someone just poked me with a sea urchin attacked to a pool cue, what the fuck is going on?
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2 Responses to The Drudgeon reviews Vampire Hunter D

  1. John Bruni says:

    ARGH! You forgot the part about D’s hand! I keep thinking about all the sick things I’d do to myself if I had something like that.

  2. Hunter says:

    Ahhh…..Vampire Hunter D. The anime that got me into anime.
    All things considered, it does hold up quite well after all these years. In fact, I know some people who prefer this movie over the sequel that came out in ’01. Even though Bloodlust had a much higher production value and a very “Miyazaki” style of animation. That right there shows the power of “D”. It is pretty dated. The voice acting (English dubbed) can be pretty atrocious at times, and the backgrounds really do show their age. However, despite those supposed flaws, many people consider this movie the superior out of the two. (Personally, I loved both FYI).
    In my opinion, Vampire Hunter D holds up as well as it does because of its story. The story is a very basic one, but is told in a very compelling way. You’re actually interested in all of the characters. Even the minor ones. I’ve always said you can have shitty animation or effects if the story is great. That’s one of the reasons so many people enjoy playing old 8-bit video games, enjoy watching the unaltered theatrical releases of the Star Wars trilogy, and enjoy watching old 80’s animated TV shows.
    I hope that one day we see another Vampire Hunter D movie. Or even a series! There’s enough books out there to fuel a series for at least one season. (Yes. Books. Not Manga. Although there is Manga based on the novels out there.) D is too important of a character in the realm of Anime to not have his adventures continue to be shared with us.

    BTW…..Wonder why I call myself Hunter? Because of Vampire Hunter D.

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