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Once again, another great story by Wicked City creator Hideyuki Kikuchi has been animated.
Review by Matthew Anderson
1 Shot OVA
Company: Urban Vision
Running Time: 80 minutes
Rated: R for graphic violence and mature situations
In the early
half of the 119th century, Vampires (called aristocrats) rule the Earth.
Taking what they want, and killing those who get in their way, the human
race lives a wary and precarious existence, terrified of the night a vampire
comes to their town.
In once such town, Doris has been bitten by the returning aristocrat, Count Mangus Lee. Desperate to rid herself of the threat of being his bride, she hires a vampire hunter. His name is D.
However, hiring a vampire hunter is not easy. The townsfolk want him gone, Count Lee's mutants attack him at every turn, and D is a Dunpeal (half human half vampire).
Can Doris survive, and will D be able to protect her?
DVD VISION TEST
to the Japanese Laser Disc or the Streamline VHS release, the video quality
is a vast improvement over all previous releases. The video has been cleaned
up, and the washed out effect from previous versions has been eliminated.
There are no pixels to be seen, even in the dark scenes.
AUDIO: Plenty of bang for your buck on both tracks. The Japanese is louder in volume, but the English track has richer sound quality. The Japanese 2.0 Dolby sound is center speaker focused while the redone 5.1 English track has better surround sound elements. Dialogue is center, while music and the wind (which blows constantly) is from the sides.
EDITS: The original Japanese title has been replaced by the Streamline version. The English credits from the Streamline Pictures release still remain, unlike the Japanese version which shows D riding off into the sunset.
EXTRAS: A little more than their typical batch. A rare 80's promotional spot concerning the making of Vampire Hunter D, the original trailers, and some character sketches round out an interesting batch of extras.
STORY: Once again,
another great story by Wicked City creator Hideyuki Kikuchi has been animated.
Yasushi Hirano has given us a moody and dark film while retaining a certain
amount of optimism (in a vampire flick, come on). The are no surprises,
but the script is still engaging by its setting and the characters.
ACTING: The acting from both sides is excellent. Both the original Japanese cast and the English cast give good range and emotion for the scene. However, Left Hand sounds much more menacing in Japanese.
FAN SERVICE: Plenty of Doris in her mini-micro skirt. At last a realistic short skirt that shows her panties every time she moves. And, lets not forget her showing her boobs to the dark man (what is it with girls always wanting to get naked in front of long haired men?).
Based of the series of novels by foremost "horror fiction" writer, Hideyuki Kikuchi, Vampire Hunter D is a is a classic, no matter how you slice it. With its moody setting, cool characters and a new take on the vampire legend, this will have a spot on any vampire or anime fan's shelf.
As far as the story goes, it's pretty basic. D rides into town to save the honor of a fair maiden from the evil lord of the land, fighting minions along the way. Think of it as Robin Hood with Friar Tuck in his left hand. Oh, and the blood sucking, don't forget the blood sucking. What the story lacks in complexity, it makes up for it with cool fights, interesting characters, and a down right creepy batch of monsters.
in a rare move, did not include overly long exposition or knowledge of
the books to have the story make sense. He goes straight into the introduction,
and despite the surprise of left hand, keeps the story centered on the
events surrounding Doris.
There are some subtle differences in the English version. A lot of the "quiet" spots in the Japanese version have been filled with background music or additional dialogue. While I understand why it was done, it makes this feel more like a soap opera than a "horror" story. With the Japanese version the quite is what makes Vampire Hunter D more suspenseful.
While the animation is not as beautiful or flows at the lighting pace of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, it does stand out in its own right by its sense of menace and dark drama. Even though the character designs are more simplified and the animation can be a little rough around the edges, it is still a great looking transfer.
The only complaint
is that they used the Streamline Pictures version, instead of using the
original. I don't understand the need to change the original logo and
to splash the staff names on D's ride into the sunset. Would it have killed
them to make the changes?
As one of the earliest imports of anime to the US, Vampire Hunter D holds a place in many people's heart. While not as flashy as Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, its interesting writing and cool animation makes this a good movie to watch.
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