The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

Title: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
Genre: Drama/Action
Company: Madhouse
Format: Movie; 103 minutes.
Dates: 25 Aug 2000

Synopsis: The daughter of a wealthy family is kidnapped by a vampire Noble. In an effort to get her back before she becomes a vampire herself, her family hires vampire hunters to trace her. One group of five established hunters sets off with a van full of tech and artillery. The other hunter is a dhampir, a half human and half vampire, who hunts with nothing but a sword.  His name is D.

The Highlights
Premise: Familiar but with some welcome alterations.
Style: Unique and fitting; a few key scenes are beautifully animated.
Ending: Surprisingly touching.

I have to give this film some credit. The opening scene, while beautifully animated, establishes a pretty common set-up for an action adventure story. The innocent damsel in her flowing white gown has been stolen away by a creature of the night. She must be rescued before being consumed by the darkness. A group of unlikely teammates must come together to defeat a myriad of bodyguards before getting to the final confrontation. In this sense, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust reminds me a lot of another vampire hunting anime, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.

What makes Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust stand out is not its protagonists, but its antagonists. The vampire Noble Meier Link turns out to be more than just a standard villain, eliciting some sympathy as he is chased by the hunters. The core of the story is not as simple as it first appears, a welcome change that added depth to the tale and changed my desired outcome by the end of the film.

D himself is more of a typical silent, brooding hero. He keeps to himself and is reluctant to form bonds with others due to a long and painful past, yet glimpses of his humanity are revealed through his actions and treatment of others. D is a character who deserves to be further developed. His struggles relating to his half-vampirism are hinted at in the film, but not fully explored. This likely stems from the fact that this film is only part of a greater whole — an adaptation of the third novel in a long book series and also the follow-up to a 1985 film.

I would guess that fans of the novel series will be at an advantage since several elements of the story, including a talking growth on D’s hand, are utilized in Bloodlust but never explained. Other details, like the back stories of Countess Carmilla and the Mutant Barbarois, are given but are brief and incomplete, leaving an uneducated viewer to piece together some key scenes in the climax.

The other standout feature of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is the unusual art and character design. The designs for the first film were created by legendary designer Amano Yoshitaka of Final Fantasy fame, and his style is maintained in this film. The art style manages to combine mostly gothic backgrounds and costumes with the Marcus brothers’ group’s advanced technology and futuristic vampire hunting outfits. It’s clear that a lot of effort is put into the animation of certain scenes, including the opening and the stairway scene near the end, which are gorgeous.

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is a solid and entertaining film that manages to add a little extra to the standard rescue plot and take a look at the implications of being a vampire. However, it still feels all too familiar at times and doesn’t provide enough background information to fully appreciate the characters, holding it back from being something great.

The Rating: 7
7/10

Reviewed by: Kaikyaku

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