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Retrospective: Vampire Hunter D

Vampire Hunter D Book and Movie

Vampire Hunter D Book and Movie

About twenty years ago, I was introduced to anime. First Akira then Ghost in The Shell and then Vampire Hunter D. There have been more since then but those three were my first; my foundation in the genre. I’ve been in a retrospective mood of late and sought out a copy of the Vampire Hunter D book. Though it isn’t on Netflix or Crunchyroll, I’ve been in search of the movie as well as I have very fond memories of it. The DVD has both the English dub and the Japanese dub with English subtitles. I watched the English dub as it was what I watched all those years ago.

Volume 1 of the Vampire Hunter D books is pretty phenomenal, especially compared to the movie. If you haven’t read the book, the movie is probably still very good but after the book, seeing how much of the story is lost, the movie leaves much to be desired. They did add some interesting mythology that isn’t in the book (at least not in Volume 1) but they left out a lot of mythology too. They completely change my favorite aspect of the book – that no one can seem to remember how to destroy or even slow a vampire. In the movie, they know all the little tricks. In many ways, I think the movie ends up lacking a little bit of what makes the books special in a glutted genre.

The actual plot of the movie and Volume 1 are the same, more or less, and incredibly interesting. In the world of vampires and monsters, there are a lot of original things about the Vampire Hunter D mythology, especially in the history of the world. D’s story takes place on Earth a very long time from now (even if does look like there are two moons in the movie).

The characters don’t have as much depth in the movie but they did keep to their personalities if not their descriptions. Doris is certainly much prettier in my head than on screen, but D is pretty much right. Doris wears less clothing on screen but also takes them off less, so that’s something. There is still some brief nudity so this probably isn’t a movie for kids.

I know it seems that I don’t care for the movie and that’s actually quite the opposite. The flaws are only found when comparing it to the books. Both have great merit. If you like anime, you’ll like the movie. If you like monster hunters and mythology, you’ll like the book. If you like both, you’ll like both, so long as you don’t compare them as, in almost every case, the movie will always pale in said comparison.

I’ve got Vols. 2 and 3 waiting to be read and I’m really looking forward to seeing where D goes from here.

If you’re going to watch the movie – watch it before you read the book but one way or another, there are some interesting twists to the vampire genre in the story and it’s worth the time. There have been whispers of a live-action version and I’m not sure how I feel about that. On one hand, it’s a great story that deserves a whole slew of new fans, but on the other, why does everyone need to make my childhood into something new? I haven’t touched the new manga yet, I’m collecting the book series first but I’m not ruling it out for the future either.

Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi. The manga and the books are available on the official website and through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The movie is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well.

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