- Directed by Toyoo Ashida
- December 21, 1985 (Japan)
- Vampire Hunter D, Left Hand-Michael McConnohie
- Doris-Barbara Goodson
- Lee-Jeff Winkless
- Lamika, Girl #3-Edie Mirman
- Rei Ginsei-Kerrigan Mahan
- Dr. Fehring-Steve Kramer
- Greco Roman-Steve Bulen
- Snake Women, Girl #1-Joyce Kurtz
- Dan, Girl #2-Lara Cody
- Mayor Roman, Weitre-Tom Wyner
- Danton, Innkeeper, Lee’s Messenger-Kirk Thornton
In the far future when a young woman is chosen as the next bride for an ancient vampire, she hires a mysterious vampire hunter in an attempt to escape her fate.
I remember hearing about Vampire Hunter D for years from anime fans and being left with the feeling that should I ever watch it I would feel that it was highly overrated. For too often the hype of others for something never matches up to the end product but in this case I was wrong. I was not being oversold.
This is a great animated film that is a mash up of horror, Western, and science fiction. D comes off a great deal like Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name”. He is a mysterious stranger that happens to wonder into the area on a horse and gets recruited to fight the villain. He says little and his background, at least for a good chunk here, is largely shrouded in mystery.
This all occurs in a distant future world filled with vampires and werewolves and monsters and mechanical horses that also has hints of the Victorian in some of its touches. There even visual nods to the old film trope of the vague Eastern European country.
In the animation and execution Vampire Hunter D reminds me of some of my favorite cartoons of my youth. Though it has been decades since I last watched it something about this reminds me of G-Force known to others as Battle of the Planets and known to some as Eagle Riders. That show had way too many names. Whatever it is about the animation here it takes me back to that time.
There is a style in this hand drawn animation that is appealing and has aged beautifully. While familiar this film is also new. The film takes its animation style and works some magic with it. The lighting and use of shadows give it an animated Gothic look.
The action scenes are visually cool but not as exciting as I think they could have been. Maybe that is because this film was so influential and been copied so in a way I am seeing them yet again. Yet the lack of significant excitement in them is not a detriment to this film. Why? Because they are visually cool. This film’s greatest strength is that it is imaginative. It creates its own mythology that is intriguing and presented in a visual style that is engrossing.
There are a few moments that feel like they come out of nowhere such as Dr. Fehring’s transformation or the death of the mayor’s son Greco Roman. This causes them to have little to no impact. There should have been something that built up to the reveal of the transformation. The death of Greco is a rare instance in my experience in Japanese animation where the sexually aggressive male got some type of punishment. Still it did not have much impact on anything going on because there was no lead up.
The character of the Count Lee’s daughter Lamika was present only to give a female perspective to the story. The revelations concerning her parentage and how offensive it should have been as well as her death were unimportant. Her character amounted to a little more than padding but I give them credit for this as well as the fate of Greco.
The story and its execution allow this film to overcome its flaws. There is a good story with great character designs presented with visual flair. The pacing is steady and builds and things can get genuinely creepy.
Vampire Hunter D is a very good anime film with horror overtones. In the end it is worthy of its classic status, and I recommend you watch it!