Saturday, April 21, 2007

Vampire Hunter D (the Anime)

What if you had survived 10,000 years of mutations, nuclear and chemical wars, religious upheavel, choas, earthquakes, and the destruction of organized civilization? Do you think you'd want to see what was happening in the world around you? Well, in this story, this wonderful story, we find that the world has done some sort of deevolution of civilization and now mankind lives in baronies spread across the globe. But these are fraught with problems that our minds could not even begin to comprehend.

This anime is a well-done suspension of disbelief SCI-FI animation. We are introduced to Doris Lang, who becomes part of a vampire herd. But that's not the end of the story, because this vampire, Count Magnus Lee (named for the eponynmous "Count Magnus" of a short story by M. R. James and Hammer Films' famed vampire actor, Christopher Lee), decides that he wants to make Doris his vampire bride. It turns out, his motivation is simply boredom, which completely enrages his daughter, Larmica (an anagram for Carmilla, as in the vampire villianess of the nineteenth century tale). However, as the story progresses, you discover that Lamika is actually a half-vampire born to Magnus by a woman who was very much like Doris, which puts a twist in the plot, a knife in the back of the daughter, and a whole new disturbing set of ideas related to vampires (and I'm sure a whole new set of vampire fetishisms).

Well, now that we've explained the story of Doris Lang, why is the movie called Vampire Hunter D? Well, D, most likely the shortened version of the word Dampiel*, is a migrating vampire hunter who simply moves from place to place and picks off the worst of the vampire foe. Why? Well, you'll have to watch the second VHD movie to find out.

Anyway, D enters the scene with all the badassness you'd expect from someone who is not only a vampire half-breed, but also the man who is responsible for cleaning out most of these undead foe. Unfortunately for D, Doris attempts to run him off and upon failing, asks him to save her from the wiles of the sinister Magnus Lee. D helps her because of his compassion and not her offer to have sex with him, clearly described later when he refuses to take advantage of her. Also, unfortunately for our hero, Magnus Lee is not your average vampire, for he is suspecting of being 10,000 years old. Wow! I hope that I can still be wooing the virgins in 10k years.

So, D goes after Magnus Lee and finds the vampire's fortress is intensely well fortified, equip with even the Three sisters of Midwich (three medusas with powers of the succubus). This very much like the three vampire women in Bram Stoker's Dracula. But unlike those three, these three become entranced by D's amazing regenerative powers and find that to be their downfall when he kills them all in a show of his vampiric nature.

There are some amazing scenes in this movie, as D, Greco Rohman and Rei Gensei (which means spirit existence for those with language barriers) wrestle over control of the situation. Greco Rohman wants Doris to be his, so he gets himself involved in the situation by stealing a special candle (originally an incense in the book) meant for Gensei in his fight with D and using against Larmica and D. The movie gives us no name for this item, but the comic called it the Time-Bewitching Incense (keep that in mind when you try to understand the significant differences between the two mediums, since they are quite different of a transition...mostly to make it more streamline and action packed).

Rei, on the other hand, seems to stay one step ahead of D in his actions, up until Gensei accidenty kills the laughing bat-mutant thinking it's D. But when D loses his hand because of a retaliatory gesture from Gensei, we find that no matter what the mutant though he was accomplishing, D is not a weak opponent. And thus, when we discover his genealogy, that of being the son of Dracula, the most noble and righteous of Vampires, we are not surprised to find that he follows in his father's footsteps very well.

Last on the list of greatness related to this movie is the interact D has with other characters. D is a very silent person, which gives us whole moments were we must conclude D's thoughts and motivations by scenes of action rather than dialogue. He speaks to others when he means to inform them, a point described very early in the movie when Dan says that Dr. Freng told him that only two types of men are silent: evil men who are too busy plotting, and good men who are too busy listening. The only time we really get glimpses into D's motivations and history is through his talking left hand (nameless).

I really did love this movie for its story. I love the literary aspect of comics, anime and games, and find myself enjoying them based on visuals and storyline. An anime without story but expertly drawn bores me because I feel like I'm watching paintings, and a story expertly written but poorly drawn makes me feel cheated inside. This had aspects of cheating me.

The story is great, but the art isn't as much. Now, this visual discrepancy can be forgiven as Vampire Hunter D is a movie from 1985, and the technology to make well done anime in 1985 was a subpar version of today's technology. That's fairly common sense, and so I forget the lack of epic visual feats in this film and instead enjoyed the amazing ability to hold me watching even when it was too dark to make out certain visual aspects.

Also related to creation date, this movie has moments of the speed racer continuous lines of irrelevant information. Run-on sentences are a problem. And comma splices were killing me. But, you can't blame the script writers who were trying to follow a japanese translation and manage to fill in the blank spots. In the 21st century, we learned to speak slower to fill in gaps, but they were a little under-experienced, so we forgive them.

I do recommend this title to anyone who likes anime and especially to any fans of anything vampire related. And those of you out there you enjoy Castlevania far far too much, this movie is probably right for you. Have fun and happy watching.

*dampiel: The bastard offspring of a vampire and human. Accepted fully in neither world dampiels will have difficulty coexisting with humans.

1 comment:

Kate said...

I saw this movie on starz years ago when I got the channel for free, and since then I've been wondering what the title was because I loved it so much! Thanks for posting this. Also, this cleared up a lot of the things I didn't quite understood the first time I watched it.