VAMPIRE HUNTER D:
VOICES OF: Pamela Segall, John DiMaggio, Dwight Schultz,
Andrew Philpot, Alex Fernandez, Mike McKenzie, Wendee Lee, John Rafter
2000, 103 Minutes, Directed by: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Recently I read an article in which the author lumped people who believed
that anime is "edgy" into the same loony bin as so-called flat-earthers
(people who believe that the earth is flat). How can anyone still believe
that the earth is flat in an age in which photographs of it are taken from outer space? Easy. They claim that the earth is round, yet flat,
like a coin in other words, creating the illusion that it is a globe.
How can anyone believe that anime (or rather Japanese animation) is "edgy"?
I don't know. Maybe they saw Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. It's a
sequel to a movie made in 1985 which I never saw, but one's enjoyment
and understanding of this sequel doesn't depend on one having seen the
original, so don't worry. Unlike the flat-earthers, they might just have
a point because this movie is a whole lot "edgier" than any animated movie
Hollywood has released lately and that includes efforts such as Titan
AE and Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire,
which mimicked aspects of anime.
The movie is set in a distant future in which (the opening credits inform
us) "vampires rule the night." However, their days are numbered as a new
breed of bounty hunters hunt them down. One such vampire hunter is D (hope
I didn't spoil that for you), who is half-human half-vampire, a bit like
Wesley Snipes' Blade I suppose. Don't be put off by comparisons
with Blade though: Vampire Hunter D is in a class of its
own - its visual and storytelling elements are instead a curious blend
of eclectic elements from spaghetti Westerns and Heavy
Metal comic strips. (Interestingly, Blade was originally based
on a Marvel comic book.)
"One of the better examples of anime around . . ."
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, one of the few anime movies to
have had a theatrical release in the States, "edgy"? Maybe. It's one of
the better examples of anime and features few, if any, of the genre's
clichés (such as the spunky and annoying heroine, robots beating
the bejesus out of each other, etc.). Astounding in its visual splendor,
it has a level of detail (I couldn’t spot the use of any computer techniques)
found in very few animated movies.
"Edgy"? Maybe not. It's a case of style over substance. Its plot is thin
and confusing at times, while some of the characters seem to exist as
merely padding. It's a comic book come to life all right - glorious life
to be sure - but still a comic book. But that shouldn't present a problem
though, especially if you happen to be into comic books . . .
If you're interested in exploring anime for the first time, then Vampire
Hunter D: Bloodlust is a good place to start as any other. Just remember
that anime isn't always for small kids so you might just want to exercise
some parental guidance here. You can also check out the excellent Ghost
in the Shell, the compulsory Akira, and the
underrated Wings of Honneamise. There's also
Princess Mononoke. Otherwise, for something off-beat, try the first
six episodes of Cowboy Bebop, a show that mixes movie homages
set to retro 1960s style jazz.
Anime may not be "edgy", but I had a heck of good time watching Vampire
Hunter D: Bloodlust, a whole lot more than can be said of the last
movie I saw featuring "vampire hunters", namely the terrible 1998 Vampires,
starring James Woods and directed by the once legendary John Carpenter
. . .