Anime Meta-Review


Vampire Hunter D, 2000


By Date




Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: watchable
  • made: unknown
  • Review created: Recently, but I didn't record the date.
  • mod: none

Seen through the courtesy of the Kino cinema and their Japanime festival (which was the left-overs from the sydney festival of the same name). Please be aware that this refers to the 2000 version, despite having exactly the same name as the previous anime movie derived from the same source. Don't blame me, I didn't name it.

The story takes place in a world both far in the future, and mired in the past. That is to say there are high tech artifacts, but society has regressed back to a lawless frontier sort of feel (indeed echoes of the american wild west are very evident). This is well demonstrated by the dominant form of transport being the robotic horse. One of the most obvious reasons for this strange environment is that vampires, and a whole range of other magical and mythological creatures, appear to have made a comeback. We get to follow two groups of hunters, who apparently are winning the battle against vampires, as they embark on a mission to capture a kidnapped maiden. One group are an exotic bunch of super-skilled (and super powered) humans while the other is composed of the solitary half-vampire known only as D. This world is dangerous, and the vampires are disturbingly powerful, but these guys, especially D, are good enough to make a living out of vampire hunting so some action looks to be on offer while the details are hammered out.

Even without me saying anything you can probably guess a lot of the movie. Impressive and epic visual style derived from gothic ambiance and horror mythology are present as expected. The humans are `tough' and D is `mysterious'. The action is dominated by impressive and strange special abilities and has a heavy component of style. At this point I was really tempted to slam the movie as being all style (And fairly expected style) with no substance. Indeed the core story is basically a long chase and combat sequence as the hunters follow the vampire carriage and defeat (or get defeated by) the vampires associates. However on reflection I had to admit that this movie crosses an awful lot of (once again mostly familiar) story elements. There is the discovery of the exact relationship between the vampire and his prey. There is the hatred of D even as he fights to protect the people of this world. There is a complex sequence of interaction between a female vampire hunter, who has sworn to eliminate all vampires, and D who partly is one. And, over all, each `side' gets to have a little whinge about their lot in life. The vampires hate their restricted lives and uncontrollable lusts, the vampire hunters hate the life of violence, and D hates being a creature in the middle of these two. It really has an immense number of story elements, but I have to admit that I found the story too weak to connect them all and the dialog shallow enough to strain my sense of belief. This is even before the question of originality is raised. As a result the film had some nice scenes, some great scenery and some impressive action...but was ultimately somewhat unsatisfying.

There are also some problems in production. While the environments were very complex, and the character designs likewise, this led to some strange appearances once it was animated. Watching D walking, or the hunter female's anatomy and proportion just seemed somewhat wrong. This also means that the action, while nice, has the feeling of being a linked set of sequences, rather than a single connected sequence. However, it has got to be said, that while the dialog on this movie did not impress me it was made much worse by the dub. The voices weren't so much bad as overly strong, strident and unsubtle, which really emphasise's the weaknesses in what they are saying. This is especially true for D's left hand (which has a speaking part) who had some good lines amongst a lot of meaningless verbiage. Of course I still believe that your enjoyment of vampire movies is modified by how much the entire vampire `thing' appeals to you. Still, i'm being fairly harsh here. This is modern and ambitious animation that is certainly worth a watch. There are lots of interesting visuals, unusual powers well brought out in the fighting and action and a reasonable sense of ambiance. The various high-tech gadgets, very complex architecture and machinery and strange world we visit should keep you entertained. As mentioned I wasn't entirely happy with the voices, and the music is stirring, dramatic classically inspired stuff (as expected) that is at times a bit too strong.

There's a lot of reviews out there for Vampire Hunter D, but they are not for this film. If you see a review featuring a picture of a young boy and a girl with pig-tails then the review is for the `classic' version. I couldn't find any reviews for this more recent version...but then it is very recent. I was also corrected by Catherine Krusberg (ckberg) who pointed out that the two films are not from the same source. This film is based on "D-Yousatsukou" the third book in the series that began with "Kyuuketsuki Hantaa D" (which was the source for the first movie). And seeing as she maintains the Vampire Hunter D archives she should know. The site is worth a visit too, including reviews of the source novels.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:26 WST 2009