You know how you feel when you see those awesome, epic trailers for that brand-new film coming out that you just can’t wait to see? Or how your friends have all seen a certain film and give it such good, raving reviews that you can’t wait to get your mitts on a copy and pop it in? We’ve all been somehow lured into the hype in one way or another. Movie trailers, word of mouth, or simple magazine advertisements are enough to make us at least interested enough to check these things out. Vampire Hunter D is a prime example of the hype. A film that I had heard so many raving reviews about that once I got a copy in my hands, it immediately had to go into the DVD player.
Looking at the box as I write this now, I must say the cover art itself would be enough to sell me if the local Family Video carried a copy. A brooding D behind a full moon is a beautiful painting in itself that I would hang on my wall just for effect. The sloppy, blood-red font tells me that there is much more where this came from, and the parental rating on back promising me violence and nudity just helped to add to this.
The year is 12,090 A.D., and Count Magnus Lee (Seizô Katô) has targeted villager Doris (Michie Tomizawa), hoping to make her a part of his family. Before you know it, Doris hires the legendary vampire hunter known as D (Kaneto Shiozawa). As soon as Lee discovers this, he immediately captures Doris, which forces D to act without plans and infiltrate the House of Lee.
By all means, Vampire Hunter D is a cult classic due to its insane hype in the anime world. I’m here to tell you that it’s not quite all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, it’s easy to see why Vampire Hunter D is a cult hit, starting with the sci-fi/gothic horror twist. But half the time, I forgot that we were in the year 12,090 A.D. Most of the movie looks more like it’s set in medieval times, and the only reminders of the future are extremely basic forms of technology such as showers (yeah, not very futuristic, I know). The most advanced piece of equipment you’re going to find here is D’s mechanical horse, and that thing isn’t too impressive, either.
Speaking of impressive, the plot is not. Like a free-form poem, there is no real structure to Vampire Hunter D. Rather, I felt like I was being treated to chaos theory on film. It was as though some ADHD kid on ten cups of coffee started pointing around as though he were directing the plot. The truth is, things just suddenly happen unannounced, and there were times where I was rather confused as to what exactly was supposed to be happening. The film does manage to catch its breath about halfway through and allow us to assess what exactly the hell is going on. That’s when things start making sense, but it feels a little too late for that.
As far as characters go, don’t expect anything special here. Doris is witty but weak, D is the silent hero who’s exceptional at what he does with a vast array of powers, and Lee is just…evil. I wish something more could be said, but throw in a few mildly interesting enemies, and that’s the end of the deal.
Vampire Hunter D isn’t terrible, but its not nearly as good as I was lead to believe. All the “hype” immediately coursed out of my veins, and now here I am facing the world and shouting, “Nah, it’s not THAT great.” For those who need to see the essentials, make sure to give this one a whirl. It’s worth a shot. Maybe you’ll find something that I missed after four views. But I doubt it.
Read A.J. Hakari’s Vampire Hunter D review here.