I'm not a huge fan of anime, at least not as much as I used to be. Regardless, I've always been struck by the imaginative scope of the animators and writers of this specific field. A good case in point is Vampire Hunter D.

There are two animated movies based on the novels by Hideyuki Kikuchi. They feature D, a half human, half vampire who wanders a post-apocalyptic world. It is roughly 8,000 years in the future. Mankind is slowly recovering from world-wide nuclear war and the vampires who once lived in obscurity are nobles who rule the world. D hunts vampires for a living and is always at odds with the darker side of his nature. He is the son of Dracula and would command considerable respect from the nobles if he didn't keep hunting them.

The first film., Vampire Hunter D, was released in 1985 and became an instant classic. The film shows its age but is still a visual treat for it's intricate detail. The story also wears its influences on its sleeve. A young farm girl, Doris has been claimed by the local vampire noble Count Magnus Lee (Magnus after the character Count Magnus by MR James and Lee after Christopher Lee) and she hires the wayfaring D to help her. The count has numerous demons and mutants at his command, including his daughter Larmica (anagram for J. Sheridan LeFanu's classic vampire character Carmilla) and sends them after D, who is Doris' chance at salvation. The D novels have been translated to English. Although I like the story of the book and film ( the movie is based on the first novel of the same name), the translation of the novel is clunky in several portions and can make for a frustrating read. Overall, the movie is highly watchable.

The second movie, released in 2001, is Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. This one is based on the third D novel Demon Deathchase (one of my favorite titles ever). This story is about D in hot pursuit of the vampire noble Meier Link, who has kidnapped a rich man's daughter, so she could be his bride. D is not only racing against time to catch Meier but he is up against monsters and an entire family of vampire hunters who want to claim the bounty on the girl. The animation for this one is even better and the story is more elaborate.

D is a silent character for the most part, so it is up to the viewer/reader to read between the lines to determine his personality. He isn't a people person but doesn't have anything against humanity. It's his vampire side he despises and combats with every inch of willpower. I'm not sure if his motives were ever revealed in later stories. I hope so. At any rate, he fits the archetype of the wandering loner. He is every inch, the horse-riding Clint Eastwood but in place of a six-shooter he wields a sword.

This image has appealed to me all my life and shows up in my fantasy fiction all time. Unfortunately, I haven't published any of it. None of it has been edited to my satisfaction and 80% of it is derivative to the extreme. I hope to release some of the better stuff in the future.

In general, Vampire Hunter D is the stuff dreams are made of. A successful combo of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. I can even see its influence on the Castlevania video game series that started coming out a year later. It's fun stuff. Give it a shot if you haven't already.

Written by Nicholas Montelongo

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