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On the Wane

  • Jul 13, 2011
Based on the third novel of Hideyuki Kikuchi's popular series, this film evokes the milieu of its source material with greater accuracy than Toyoo Ashida's 1985 adaptation of the first novel. Herein, the titular character is commissioned by an affluent family to eliminate a powerful vampire, and to return a young woman who he's kidnapped. D's activities are complicated by a society of monsters hired by his prey for protection and a group of bounty hunters with whom he's competing for the same objective.

I never had an opportunity to see this in the theater upon its initial release. I assumed that the result would be an adaptation of Kikuchi's work colored by the rapid, severe action sequences and brisk pace typical of other Yoshiaki Kawajiri features like Wicked City and Ninja Scroll. My guess was accurate only in regard to the former element; while the violence of this movie is as stylized and impressive in its execution as that of Kawajiri's other directorial efforts, this is surely as measured as it was in print, a story that develops slowly and for good reason.

The visuals of this film cannot be faulted. CGI is implemented seamlessly with cel animation to great effect. But the finest accomplishments of this movie's production are an array of magnificent backgrounds that depict vivid pastoral settings of numerous environments and extraordinary, sprawling interiors in which Gothic and Victorian design are rendered with impossibly ornate detail. I've seen a lot of animated features, and this is probably the most beautiful among them. Character designer Yutaka Minowa must be credited for his efforts: while his D is quite similar in appearance to the magnificent illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano found in the novels, the other characters are not dissimilar to those seen in other Kawajiri films. In particular, Borgoff Marcus bears more than a passing resemblance to Himuro Gemma of Ninja Scroll. The elaborateness of the characters almost equals that of their surroundings.

Bloodlust is unique among anime in that its original language track was English (the Japanese-language track was actually recorded third, after a Cantonese-language version!). The quality of the vocal performances are very mixed. Andrew Philpot's D is comparable to Kaneto Shiozawa's voicing of the 1985 film: subdued, with an undercurrent of intensity. It's praiseworthy, though it really doesn't compare to the authoritative baritone that Michael McConnohie used to reinforce D's commanding presence in the first movie. Michael McShane provides the sentient parasite of D's left hand with a nervous swagger that compliments the character's comic relief. Most of the other voice actors are certainly competent. In fact, John Rafter Lee voices Meier Link with an imperial menace that's subtly impressive. But much of the dialogue sounds rushed and clumsy, which may have more to do with the difficulties common to English translations than the failings of the performers. It's often difficult to translate, paraphrase and speak an English phrase properly in the same amount of time as a Japanese equivalent, something that longtime viewers of English-dubbed anime or jidaigeki are well aware of. Put simply: for common speech, English is usually the more verbose and Japanese the more efficient of the two languages.

While Bloodlust is surely as attractive and exciting as could be expected, it isn't as fun as I expected it to be. The moral ambiguity of the film is refreshing. There is only one protagonist and one antagonist, and the integrity of the other characters is not easily delineated. The film's conclusion is aptly sober, and surely not to all tastes. Technically, this feature is as fine a technical accomplishment as any that Kawajiri's produced and as downcast as many of his other movies. While I came away from this satisfied, it's ultimately one of the more depressing fantasies that I've seen in a while.

As DVDs come, this one is just fine. Its picture is rendered with excellent clarity, thankfully presented in 1.85:1. I'm not a videophile, so I can't reliably comment on the peculiar merits of this disc's imaging, but it looks great to me. However, the sound mix is definitely lacking. Dialogue is sometimes almost rendered inaudible by the louder score and (excellent) sound effects, something that often frustrates me about Dolby 5.1 mixes. Menus and introduction alike are as attractive as the film requires.

An included featurette is better than most in that it's watchable; its most interesting portions consist of commentary on the film's story and production by Kawajiri and Minowa. Another feature compares rough storyboards to their corresponding finished scenes, which is of mild interest. Least among the extra materials is a "Top Ten" compilation of favorite scenes resulting from an online vote; if you didn't participate in this exercise years ago, I can't imagine that this would interest you.

Several of the film's trailers and TV spots are also included. Most efficacious of this lot is Bloodlust's slickly edited Korean theatrical trailer, which oddly features English narration accompanied by Hangul subtitles! Trailers for other Urban Vision releases can also be perused; those who've seen the Golgo 13 and Wicked City trailers on Streamline Pictures' VHS releases will note that Urban Vision acquired the defunct company's advertisement content in supplement to its features!

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March 27, 2012
very cool! So nice to have more anime fans in the site.
March 27, 2012
Thank you. Eventually, I'll review the Blu-ray edition of Akira.
More Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust reviews
review by . October 30, 2010
posted in ASIANatomy
      VAMPIRE HUNTER D   BLOODLUST      The Vampire Hunter D films have always been some of my favorite animes ever; there is no doubt about it I am a huge fan of these stories. I have bought all of the books and such and while I have not read them yet rest assured I will and will most likely review those as well. But that aside I have loved this series since well before it was a series [the films I mean, I know the books are a series]. The first …
Quick Tip by . October 30, 2010
posted in ASIANatomy
I recommend this film to any and all in fact you don't even have to watch the first one [even though you should] to enjoy this one. They both make for good stand alones but I recommend you buy both. This is an excellent anime and worth every penny.
review by . March 14, 2009
posted in ASIANatomy
promo poster
The isolation and loneliness as being the result of a union between a vampire king and a human woman--a being called a Dunpeal, someone who can never belong to either side. Strong, powerful and able to resist sunlight for a period of time. The sequel to the 1985 anime hit, "Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust" once again takes us to the adventures of a lone hunter named D. Once again, this lone warrior rides for the cause of the righteous, wielding his sword along with his parasitic hand to hunt …
review by . February 25, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Always was a fan of the animation     Cons: Good, but doesnÂ’t strike me in the way some other anime does     The Bottom Line: Mmm...thirsty     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot. Enter the world of D, the half-human, half-vampire (aka Dunpeal) vampire hunter. He’s been around before, rescuing damsels in distress from creepy old vampire guys. I made that sound pretty lame, but that movie wasn’t …
review by . April 11, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
D returns in this action packed follow up to the original. One thing you will immediately notice, is the clean animation. There is a great mix of C.G. and hand drawn cells. The story of D and his life is a sad one. Wandering through time seeing those around him die and fade away, as he remains unchanged and fighting for those that hire him. Just the thought of D lets you know he has an extensive past with many dark adventures.Leila, a young bounty hunter, is after the same thing D is after - a young …
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Robert Buchanan ()
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I'm a bibliophile, ailurophile, inveterate aggregator, dedicated middlebrow and anastrophizing syntax addict. My personality type is that of superlative INTJ.
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Based on a series of fantasy novels by Hideyuki Kikuchi,Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlustis a bloody anime adventure. Set in the distant future, the story focuses on D (voice by Andrew Philpot), the son of a vampire and a mortal who has dedicated his life to exterminating vampires. D is pursuing Charlotte (Wendee Lee), who has been carried off by vampire Meier Link (John Rafter Lee). The bounty-hunting Markus brothers and tough-talking Leila (Pamela Segall) are also on the trail. A long, violent chase brings them to the Castle of Carmila the Bloody Countess (Julia Fletcher), where the narrative founders in a series of confusing illusions that lead to an inconclusive ending.Bloodlustlooks better in still images that evoke Yoshitaka Amano's intricate illustrations than it does in motion. The very limited drawn animation clashes visually with the more fluid computer-generated imagery--D's cape billows dramatically, but his expression rarely changes. Fans of such violent anime features asSword for TruthandNinja Resurrectionwill enjoy the no-holds-barred action sequences, but more squeamish viewers will be put off by the beheadings, impalements, disembowelments, etc.Vampire Hunter D, an earlier, more modest feature based on the same material, is a better adaptation.--Charles SolomonCombining romance, gothic horror, science fiction, and bloody action into a dazzling anime production, VAMPIRE HUNTER D (2000) takes the vampire mythos to a new level. This movie is not a remake or a...

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Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi
Release Date: September 21, 2001
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 1hr 43min

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