Vampire Hunter D
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
By Justin Colburn & Keayn Dunya
Vampire Hunter D is one of the classics that sparks peoples interest in Japanese animation. The story is of a young girl, Doris, who is bitten by Count Magnus Lee and is forced to find a way to kill him before she turns into a vampire. She hires a mysterious vampire hunter named D, to do the job. D has to fight off the Count's small army of mutants to protect Doris and her little brother, while Doris deals with her friends and neighbors turning their backs on her since she was bitten. As the story unfolds we learn that D is a Dunpeal, a hybrid of human and vampire, and that his roots may run deeper than anyone may realizes.
Released in 1985, this movie has remained a staple part of any anime fan's collection. Based on the novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi and character designs by Yoshitaka Amano, whose work you may have seen in many of the Final Fantasy games, Vampire Hunter D creates a very dark and strange world for its characters to live in. Many of the creatures are exotic forms of stereotypes that already exist in science fiction horror genre. The most interesting thing about the movie, to me, is that D's character is so mysterious. You develop a lot of questions and receive no answers to most of them as the movie ends.
Bloodlust takes D on a new adventure to stop vampire Meier Link from kidnapping a noble girl, Charlotte Elbourne, but when he learns that they are really lovers trying to run away together he is unsure of how to proceed. As D tries to find an answer, Charlotte's family hires a second group of vampire hunters to chase down Meier Link and rescue Charlotte. Some of this motley group considers D to be a threat while others look at him as an ally. In the end D must decide whether he will protect Charlotte and Meier's desires to be together or do the job he was hired to and separate them forever.
Bloodlust was a well-done sequel, it kept true to the character, the style and the overall feel of the first Vampire Hunter D. With new technology available in the realm of animation, Bloodlust is crisp and clean and outshines the original. I heard about this move two years ago and have been eagerly anticipating it's release in the United States ever since. There were a lot of rumors about a theatrical release, but it ended up going straight to video. In the end the two movies fall on even ground for me. Vampire Hunter D remains a classic and Bloodlust has made it's way onto my list of "must own" DVDs and if you've never seen either one, I definitely recommend checking them out.
Vampire Hunter D is on a great many list as a benchmark of animation. Bloodlust will make it way onto that list as well. The overall feel of the original is carried over into the sequel and expanded upon. With the advances in technology Bloodlust shines. Even while retaining the dark gothic feel, Bloodlust has a true otherworld quality to it. The title character, D, is kept mysterious while allowing little glimpses into the forces that shaped him and keep him going. While the characters in the original were a little flat at times, the characters in Bloodlust are better developed. In my opinion Bloodlust walks that line were there are no good or bad characters, just opposing characters whose motivation you can understand. The original establishes a firm foundation, which Bloodlust adds to. I was left wanting more and eagerly hoping for a continuation of the series. It is a "must see" for any fan or student of animation.