Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Charlotte, a young woman, is abducted by Baron Meier Link, a vampire nobleman who is known not to harm humans needlessly. Charlotte’s father hires D to find her and kill her humanely if she turns into a vampire. At the same time, her older brother also hires the notorious Marcus brothers for backup. Among them is a woman named Leila, who hunts vampires because of a personal grudge rather than for monetary gain. The two parties (D and the Marcus brothers) race inexorably after Meier Link. However, Meier Link hires the Mutant Barbarois; a group of lethal mercenary body guards. They consist of Caroline, a shape shifter; Benge, a shadow manipulator; and Mashira, a werewolf.

As the story progresses, Meier Link’s abduction turns out to be an escape by him and Charlotte, as they are lovers. Through the journey, D talks to Leila and tells her that she can have a life that someone like him could never have, the life of a normal human. They make a pact, if either one of them survives, the survivor can bring flowers to the other’s grave. Near the end of the movie, Meier Link goes with Charlotte to the Castle of Chaythe, where Countess Carmilla, Meier Link’s matron, waits for them. Carmilla, a ghost of a vampire who died long ago, reigned supreme within the Castle of Chaythe when vampires were all-powerful and unchallenged. However, her bloodlust was so strong that Count Dracula, D’s father, killed her in disgust. After going to the Castle of Chaythe, D fights Carmilla’s ghost, who plotted to kill Charlotte and return to life. D, along with Leila, let Meier Link leave for the City of the Night with Charlotte’s body.

In the final scene of the movie, D arrives at Leila’s funeral, watching from a distance. Leila’s granddaughter greets him and invites him to stay with them for a while. D declines, saying that he simply came to “repay a favor to an old friend, who feared no one would mourn her death.” He admitted he was glad she was wrong. The girl thanks him, and D replies by smiling gently at her, and leaves.

REVIEW:

The last anime film that I watched, without viewing the series, was Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, which led me to watch episodes. Now I rank Cowboy Bebop as one of my top 5 anime series. Was I hoping for lightning to strike twice with Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust? Not necessarily, but the concept of this film and the series has intrigued me.

What is this about?

Based on the graphic novels of Hideyuki Kikuchi, this beautifully drawn anime film melds spaghetti Western style with the gothic settings and flashy violence of 1960s Italian horror flicks to tell the story of a girl kidnapped by a vampire. Determined to get his daughter back, the kidnap victim’s wealthy father hires D — the half-breed spawn of a human mother and vampire father — to retrieve her. But what if she doesn’t want to be brought home?

What did I like?

Stunning. It is an overused term, but my goodness gracious is this a visually stunning film! Now, in this day and age where everything is done on computers, I may just be yearnin’ for some hand drawn animation, and a bit nostalgic for something that looks like it was made in the late 80s-early 2000s. The animation is smooth, breathtaking, and just flat-out awesome!

Vampires. Young people seem to refuse to believe this, but there was a time when vampires didn’t glitter in the sunlight while brooding over some mopey, unattractive chick (thanks Twilight). No worries about that here, though, the vampires and various other creatures and monsters are out for blood. Remember those days? If for nothing else, this film should get a star for showing real vampires doing their thing!

Isn’t it romantic. Vampires are very well-known as romantic and/or lecherous creatures in most vampire lore. This film’s plot involves a vampire kidnapping a human with which he has fallen in love. At first, I thought this was going to be some kind of villainous plot that would be culminated at the film’s climax, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, it turns out to be a tragic love story.

What didn’t I like?

Thin. I tend to no really agree with many other critics, but I have to go with them on the opinion that the plot is thin. With the great visuals and orchestral score, one would imagine that they would have spent the same effort on the plot, but that didn’t seem to be the case. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with it, but to me, it just seemed as it they hit a few points here and there without fully developing the plot points, this resulting in a bit of a disappointment.

Blood. I was led to believe this was going to be glorious, gory goodness, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Yes, there is blood, but was it as much as I had been led to believe? I can honestly say that isn’t the case. As a matter of fact, there are scenes where D slices and dices, but no blood is shed. How is this possible? I want some blood and guts spewed, dammit!

Dunpeal. All throughout the film, they refer to D as a dunpeal. I’m not really sure what that is and it doesn’t appear that they define it anywhere in this film, but it is possible something that could have been described in the series or manga. Still, I do wish they would have told us what it was if they were going to keep calling him that term.

As it turns out, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is a sequel to the 1985 film Vampire Hunter D. I can’t really say if you need to see it first, as this is my intro to the character, myself. That point aside, this is an exciting film with beautiful imagery and animation, some great orchestration that fits the tone of the film, and great character, but the thin plot and disappointment that I am experiencing after watching this have hurt my view on this film. Do I recommend this flick? Yes, but not very highly. This film was ok, but it just didn’t really blow me away the way I thought it would have. Still, you should give it a shot, if you’re interested.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

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