Written by: Ron Cotton on December 8th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Australia, August 25, 2000
Directors: Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Tai Kit Mak
Writers: Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Hideyuki Kikuchi
Cast: Andrew Philpot, John Rafter Lee, Pamela Segall, Wendee Lee, Mike
DVD Released: 2001
Approximate Running Time: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
DVD Release: Urban Vision
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
The distant future Vampires rule the night, but their numbers are dwindling. With huge bounties on their heads a class of hunters had emerged. Bounty Hunters. One hunter is unlike all the others. He is a Dunpeel – a half human, half vampire. At war with himself, feared by all, tortured and alone, he is Vampire Hunter D. – Introduction of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
D is a Vampire Hunter who’s hired to rescue Charlotte from the clutches of a Vampire Baron Meier Link. After bargaining for twice the amount originally offered, Vampire Hunter D is competing with another group of Vampire Hunters known as the Markus brothers for the bounty. The Markus brothers are a rag-tag team of Vampire Hunters riding a Train-Tank Hybrid vehicle chasing down Meier Link’s coach. Vampire Hunter D unperturbed by the Markus Brothers is determined to recapture the beauteous Charlotte on a cybernetic horse. Leila, the lady dressed in red from the Markus brothers, becomes troublesome to Vampire Hunter D. Vampire Hunter D later questions his own motivations as Meier Link and Charlotte’s love seems genuine. Being of both bloodlines, Humans and Vampires alike ostracize him for who and what he is, yet remains diligent and completely composed.
Beginning with the world’s most famous vampire story, Bram Stoker’s Dracula which documents an elderly Dutch anthropology professor named Dr. Abraham Van Helsing who “knows as much about obscure diseases as any one in the world,” a fascination of his role develops. Vampires would soon face adversaries equipped with an advanced expertise to their extermination, known simply as Vampire Hunters. From the cult classic Hammer Film ‘Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter’ to more mainstream entries such as Westley Snipes ‘Blade’, these films focus on the Vampire Hunter facing the near insurmountable strengths of the vampire legions that no mere mortal would dare to face. These Vampire Hunters prefer to live like lone vagabonds, knowing the dangers they must face, how vampires can use their loved ones, and how quickly vampires can spread over the countryside. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is a sequel to Vampire Hunter D which was released a decade and a half before this newest entry from Madhouse Studios. Don’t be surprised when characters appear similar to those in Ninja Scroll as Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was created from the same animation studios. To understand some of the elements of this film, it’s a necessity to watch its predecessor.
Make no mistake; most of the cell animation is unique and artistically composed, especially when compared to its first film. The backdrop to this drama can be best summed up as a science-fiction spaghetti western with touches of the Victorian era. This gives the film a touch of timelessness. Not simply an action tour-de-force, but also an intertwined love story that ends unexpectedly. It’s not a preachy movie, leaving a sort of ‘moral ambiguity’ allowing the viewer to draw his own conclusions, and does so in a very refreshing way.
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust DVD has more special features than most anime of its kind, and special thanks the extra efforts of Urban Vision Entertainment. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust has the US, Japanese, and Korean Trailer as well as the US and Japanese Television Spots. I personally favored the Japanese Trailer and the US television spot. Behind the Scenes featurette was 23 minutes of clips showing the musical compositions, voice actors in action, director comments, and other crew members’ surface thoughts of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust? Storyboard to Feature Comparison allows you to use your angle button to preview pre-production and post-production views. Fans Favorite Scenes was an online polled top-10 best scenes from the film. As an aside, I would have never guessed number 1. Top this off with 10 trailers and special honors going to the psychological thriller ‘Pet Shop of Horrors’. Although the video quality was sub-par for these features, the sacrifice allowed the feature presentation’s transfer to be pristine, like a digital transfer.
Lacking a subtitle feature, at the very least Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust had working close captioning. The audio and video experience was astounding and at times even breathless, creating an experience even more real than live action. When you’re forgetting that you’re watching an anime, you know when you’re into something good. However tainted my own love of Vampire Hunter movies, I do believe that this is a cut above the rest highly recommended.