I am a huge fan of Japanese anime or 'Manga'. And Vampire Hunter D is undoubtedly one of the classic films of the anime genre (in fact the vampire genre as a whole in my view).
This film is a sequel of sorts to the original 80's movie. Although sequels have a bad habit of being bad, a few defy the odds and are classed as good movies. Sometimes outdoing the original film, such as X Men 2, The Dark Knight and Toy Story 2.
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust can comfortably be classed as an excellent sequel. As to outdoing the original on which it is based? The answer is no, but only by a small margin.
I am a big fan of the director, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who also directed the classic Manga Ninja Scroll. He has a distinctive animatic style which is very consistent throughout all his movies much like Hayao Miyazaki, the only difference is Kawajiri's films are more adult orientated. The animation of Bloodlust is truly mesmerising, a beauty to behold. The level of detail and colouration is superb. One can easily put the volume down and just admire the artistry of the films!
The story briefly is as follows: our hero D is a vampire slayer, himself half vampire half human. He is paid by a wealthy family to find their daughter who was kidnapped by a dangerous vampire, Meier Link. But things are not so straightforward! On the trail is a group of bounty hunters who are also in the hunt for Meier Link.
The character of D is a big draw. He is very reserved, solitary figure. It seems he is burdened with guilt. He possesses a trick up his sleeve quite literally! He has a parasite on his left hand, a living breathing entity sort of like his consciense, albeit with a big mouth and odd sense of humour! So D is very unique indeed! A deviant variation on The Man With No Name from the Dollars trilogy!
The thing which makes Bloodlust such a joy to watch is the characters in the film! We mentioned D, but the bounty hunters are also a bunch of oddities, comprising of three brothers and a cool, blonde chick along for the vampire-slaying ride. Her character is notable as she develops a relationship with D, albeit non-romantic, but maybe just a hint of repressed love!
Midway throgh the film, our hero comes across a place infested with bizarre Boschian creatures! This is where the film truly excels, in the design of the creatures and ghouls. It is a beautiful hell hole brimming with monsters of such variety that they would happily fit into a Guillermo Del Toro film! Indeed, Guilermo (who is a hero of mine!) would be in heaven just by witnessing the hideous creatures on show! D has to pass through this ungodly abode, and is threatened by their leader. What follows is a scene of brilliantly choreographed action. Indeed my one complaint is that this scene is too brief. I would love to have seen more from this place where Bosch would have a field day with his paint brush!!
Also, the last chapter of the movie is simply superb. We truly start to go into gothic territory, not to mention spooky as well! We are introduced to a sinister vampire queen called Carmella who it seems is not all that she appears to be! I wont divulge too much into the story, i 'll leave it with you, the first time viewer to watch and see for yourself!
Overall, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is an excellent anime movie. Maybe short of being a masterpiece, but not that far off. Nonetheless, it deserves five stars just for sheer entertainment!
The disc itself is quite bare to be honest. We have a brief behind the scenes featurette, and a rather odd 'fans favourite' extra, but the film alone merits the price! It is an amazing feat of animation and storytelling!!
A deliciously dark slice of gothic vampire noir!