Anime… hmmm.

“Kono Oto Tomare” quickly became boring. I was hoping for lovely music and got tropes, predictability and boredom. Four episodes in I pulled the plug. Sorry if you were fans.

AOT continues to amaze. I am gobsmacked. Thunderstruck. Oh… my… God! But why do some people emerge from a titan fully clothed and others with just their pants on? I don’t understand why they’d have any clothes at all.

I’ve started Shikabame Hime. So far so good. After 4 episodes not great, just good.

Fairy Tail has got pretty wild. Dead characters, out of commission characters, hopeless battles. Zeref and the most potent mages remain as one of them squares off against… her daughter, Erza.

But that’s not this review. It is about something else. Something very old. Ancient even. An anime from before all the tropes were established. An anime that’s as much American Western as Japanese tradition. The grandaddy of them all.

Vampire Hunter D.

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“Just call me ‘D’, Ma’am.” He rides in from a desert, image distorted by the heat rippling off the ground. He is both feared for his power, hated for his mixed blood ancestry, and desired for his skills as a killer. The power to slay a Noble vampire.

Released in 1985. With Kaneto Shiozawa, Michie Tomizawa, Seizô Katô, and Satoko Kifuji in voice roles. I popped my anime cherry watching this with my future wife at LosCon back in 1987, a 16mm film projected onto a small screen in a large room. It impressed the shit out of me and I pursued “Japanimation”, as it was called then, ever since.

It was the first anime movie to achieve theatrical release in the US.

The movie is loosely based on the manga, Vampire Hunter D: Demon Deathchase. Very loosely. In 1999 or thereabouts there was a nuclear war. The eldest vampires (the Nobility)  saw it coming and stockpiled everything civilization would need to start again. After the war only they, some scattered humans, and a small number of other supernatural creatures survived. The Vampires rebuilt the world so that they would rule. A synthetic blood substitute was developed but some vampires still preferred human blood.

Areas were divided between them and for 10,000 years they ruled. There was a revolution but in remote areas, some remained. Those very powerful creatures often grew bored and wanted to play with their food. Vampire hunters set out to deal with them but only the most powerful can hope to survive.

D is the offspring of “Our Sacred Ancestor” and the “Fair Mina”. From that, it is not

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Our Sacred Ancestor.

difficult to speculate on his parentage. He refuses to go by his real name, not an uncommon trope in spaghetti western. And if you are familiar with that genre you will see many other commonalities.

A sequel to VHD, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, was released in 2000. It achieved great critical and popular acclaim by staying close to the style of the original but using advanced techniques. In 2018 the first draft for another movie in the series, Vampire Hunter D: Resurrection, was completed. I don’t have a clue when we’ll actually see it. There is supposed to be a fair amount of CGI in it.

If you haven’t watched Vampire Hunter D, you have missed the most important horror anime ever made. Possibly the most important anime, period. For its time the animation was very good, even if not at the level of a Disney flick. OTOH Disney could never have pursued this creation.

There is real evil afoot. Beloved animals get their throats ripped out. A not-so-subtle tweak of mixed heritage racism. Sympathetic characters die. Naked ladies with their boobs out to see. Look at those screenshots. It is dark and yet colorful. Lines are crisp. The creativity, design, and layout are great.  This movie is worth worshipping as Our Sacred Ancestor.

Now if only a major anime provider would pick it up again. Amazon says it is no longer available and their contrct no longer allows them to sell it.

Usual spoiler warning!

Dramatis Personae

The “dhampire”, a human vampire mix: Vampire Hunter D

 

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Supposedly has an unearthly beauty about him. He is usually concealed by cloak and hat.

 

Doris Lang

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Doris Lang is unrelated to Lana. She is alone, a strong woman managing a ranch and raising a young brother in a harsh land. Daddy was a werewolf hunter killed by a vampire. A passionate and lovely maiden willing to do what needs to be done to survive.

 

Dan Lang

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In perfect shounen style there is also a boy, a boy with an intrepid heart. He will protect his older sister, whatever the cost.

 

Frontier town: Ransylva

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Then there is the Town. There’s always a town. Some good people. Some bad people. More cowardly than brave.

 

Count Magnus Lee

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And the bad guy. He’s the bossman rancher hogging the resources. Sending forth his minions to kill the homesteaders, steal the water, and demand fealty and tribute. And he’s got an eye for our heroine.  Ooops… no, he’s a ten thouand year old Vampire.  Otherwise, not much different.

 

Greco Rohman

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The mayor’s good fer nuttin’ low down skunk of a son. Has a terrible pun for a name and lusts for Doris.

 

Larmica Lee

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The Count’s snooty and arrogant daughter.

 

Rei-Ginsei

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The Count’s hired gun and right hand mutant-man.

 

The Left Hand of D

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Rather like a cross between Miroku’s left hand and the Addams Family thing. He really sucks.

 

On with the show!

Our heroine is out chasing down monsters. It is the usual sort of thing one does while running a ranch. But this time is different. These guys are in the big leagues.

 

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Popping off your typical blah-blah monsters.

 

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First, a monster grabs her horse.
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Then a giant werewolf carries it off. But not before delicately removing the cross from her neck.

 

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The Count makes hid appearance “Oh c’mon. I just want a nibble!”

 

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She needs a slayer. One happens to ride into town. She goes after him with a whip. He shrugs off her attacks. Yup. He’s the one.
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A trip into town. Greco’s hands want to go a-roamin’. She declines.

 

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Since Doris has been dined upon, the doctor, the mayor and the sheriff decide her fate. D prevails upon them to let her go.
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In the dark of night, they ride to take Doris to the Count. D kicks their asses and sends them back with a refusal.
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The Count is not happy.
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Larmica doesn’t appreciate Rei-Ginsei touching her.
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The Count’s welcome wagon.

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Several other members of the Count’s entourage
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Guests who overstayed their welcome.
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Lamias/sirens
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The Count gloating.
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Daughter does NOT like Daddy’s latest toy.
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Inuyasha’s Miroku just has a cheap knock-off.
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More welcome wagon members.
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Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
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Oh shit. That idiot brother of yours got himself captured.
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Blinded by the light! Lit up like a deuce, another runner in the night.

D may be in trouble but here’s a helping hand to save him.

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Doris is nice! Love those shower scenes.

Has somebody had too much to drink? Sounds like he has an orgasm.

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Wedding guests.
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The happy bride. Why would a vampire need a wedding?
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I forgot the ring!
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And Shane… er… D rides into the sunset.

 

And here is hoping Resurrection happens soon!

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