Critic’s Log - Earthdate: October 23, 2013. Review #62: Vampire Hunter D
Vampires are very popular in horror stories. Some stories are effective, some aren’t. Either it’s irresistable, or it’s a total shlockfest. Either way, it will drain your blood and energy and time depending on what you see. Here is Vampire Hunter D
In the year 12,090 A.D, technology and the supernatural have overtaken the world. But thanks to the overzealous ambitions of man, the world remains desolate and oppressive. What's left of the human race is divided into various towns and cities living in utter fear of vampires who compose and exist as the Nobility, fending off the monsters and mutants as a result of their existence. On a night five days after the Count Magnus Lee had harmlessly tasted the blood of Doris Lang and chosen her to be his next wife, she hires a vampire hunter by the name of 'D' to rid her of ever meeting a terrible fate.. As a dhampir (half human, half vampire), there exists a distinct resentment between the hunter and his prey. But as the Count finds out, there is also a peculiar secret behind the past of the Vampire Hunter D.
To be technical, this is an Ashi Productions… production and I want to point out that Ashi Productions is now called Production Reed as of current. With that said, I can point out that the animation is pretty old in this one and it’s pretty damn obvious. It also could have been a little better. It’s not all that good, but you know what. I almost don’t care because this was one of the first anime films that was brought into America. This might not be a big deal for those that live in a different country than the United States. Since I reside in the U.S. I will say that this was quite a big deal for my fellow American citizens. The animation can be considered old-school, so this may not be such a problem. I actually kind of like the animation in this movie. Oh wait, it’s an OVA, what?. I still consider it to be a movie. Anyway, It hasn’t aged well, but it may hold some appeal for those that want to see something that’s old-school.
The music by the late Noriyoshi Matsuura should have some recognition. It may not be too memorable but it’s does help with the dark atmospheric tone of the movie. It may not sound like it fits in a horror movie, but the fact that it takes place in 12,090 A.D. It actually may have a fitting sound when it comes to the soundtrack. As far as outside the movie, it’s a take it or leave it type of soundtrack. There really isn’t much I can say about the soundtrack except for it’s effect on the atmospheric tone in the movie. There is a specific tune in the ending where I swear it totally sounds like the ending theme to a Final Fantasy game. Which brings me to note something special about this movie. The character designs in this movie are done by Yoshitaka Amano. You are probably wondering why I am making this sound like it’s a big deal, that’s because it is. You see… Yoshitaka Amano has done some designs for some anime series. He also illustrated some light novels as well as the Vampire Hunter D light novels, but he is also very recognized for his character designs in the very popular RPG series Final Fantasy. I actually really like his artwork and style. He is simply a very interesting artist in the art medium. His art designs are worthy to look at.
When it comes to the voices, the following is going to sound pretty obvious. The Japanese cast is casted pretty good in this one. D is played by the late Kaneto Shiozawa and I am really liking his voice which is kind of sad considering he passed away back in 2000. But anyway, the voice is terrific for D. Michie Tomizawa is pretty good as Doris Lang, Ichiro Nagai is ok as D’s Left Hand, Satoko Kito is okay, and Seizo Katou is alright as Count Magnus Lee. There aren’t any noteworthy seiyus for the supporting characters so...Moving on. With the English Dub, there are some recognized voice actors in this one, but this was their early days so don’t expect a fantastic dub because of this. Michael McConnohie is great as D surprisingly, and Barbara Goodson is decent as Doris Lang, but that’s pretty much it. Edie Mirman is a little off as Lamica, and the late Jeff Winkless does fit the corny role as Count Magnus Lee, it really is a corny performance. I don’t know what else to say about that. Steve Kramer is pretty decent as Dr. Fehring, and even Kirk Thornton is in this movie...voicing D’s Left Hand, and the performance isn’t all that great though, I will say that the name’s I just mentioned have had better roles later on after Vampire Hunter D. However, there is one thing that bothered me about the dub. The first thing is that there is some music in the Dubbed version where the original did not have any music. This gives me the impression that what I was hearing was a simplified tune that added for American audiences, This serves no purpose whatsoever. Secondly, The ADR direction is a mixed bag and this has nothing to do with the voices, but the changes made to the original script. Ray is a fine example. In the original Japanese, he was a bad guy but honorable. In the Dub, he is immature, obviously evil, and very bloodthirsty, which was not staying faithful to the original script to this one character. But regardless of that, The Japanese cast is a solid listen, and I also recommend the dub as well for a completely different reason. Because the movie feels like a Horror B-movie.
The reason I just said that is because the characters don’t really develop too much in this movie. D is kind of one-dimensional and not fully fleshed out, Doris Lang has some development and not a bad character, Lamica is pretty decent, D’s Left Hand I hear is not that faithful to the book. , Greco is kind of a stock character with his intentions in the movie, but if there is a character that is such a cliche is Count Magnus Lee, if you have seen plenty of vampire movies or have seen enough to grasp the norm of Vampire stories, Count Magnus Lee is your typical vampire villian. Ray at least is interesting in the movie.
Here’s what does not bite. The story, I really don’t know how to explain it except that it leads up to the third act. This movie is surprisingly not directionless, and this is coming from the guy that directed the Fist of the North Star anime who happens to be the late Toyoo Ashida. However, the writing is disappointing. The story is not that interesting to begin with, but is it still worth looking into? That depends. I say No because there’s nothing new when it comes to Vampire fiction and it also feels like a commercial for the manga. I say Yes because it was one of the first anime films to be brought in the United States, I’ll say it again, if you live in a different country, this may not be a big deal for you. It has garnered a cult following because of it’s history in the U.S. Another reason I say yes if you are used to B Horror movies. If there is one thing I will admit is that the movie had some cool moments. If it’s simple entertainment you want, Go right ahead and bite into this one, If it’s Grade A material you are looking for, don’t get your hopes up.
Vampire Hunter D has been available by CBS Theatrical Films and Streamline Pictures, but it is available by Urban Vision Entertainment. The light novels by Hideyuki Kikuchi and illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano is available by Dark Horse Press.
With all that said, Vampire Hunter D is recognizable for it’s history in the United States, it has a fitting soundtrack albeit not memorable, but it manages to have ok animation and ok characters, but it does suffer with a story that doesn’t really offer much and it’s just an average movie that is both simple entertainment as well as a special one for Americans.
I give Vampire Hunter D a 5.5 out of 10. it is SO and SO!
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