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Vampire Hunter D [1] began as a novel series in 1983, written by Hideyuki Kikuchi. It was adapted into a film in 1985, which has since become a cult classic. 

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Vampire Hunter D movie poster from IMDB

Plot Edit

The movie begins with Doris Lang, a werewolf hunter’s daughter, stumbling upon the vampire Count Magnus Lee, who bites her, intending to make her his bride. In the next scene, vampire hunter D is stopped by Lang, who hires him to kill Count Magnus. It is revealed that if the vampire who bites you is killed, then you won’t turn into a vampire yourself. 

That night, D is attacked by both Count Lee’s servant, Rei Ginsei, and Count Lee’s daughter, Lamika. Along the way, it is revealed that D is a dhampir the child of a vampire and a human. He fights them off, and they flee back to the castle. The next day, D travels to the castle to confront the Count. Along the way he encounters many of the Count’s minions, eventually being ensnared by three women, who turn into snakes. At the same time, Doris is captured by Rei and brought to the Count. D kills the snake women and rescues Doris.

A candle—called the Time-Bewitching Incense—is given to Rei, who takes Dan, Doris’s younger brother, hostage. D saves Dan, and in the process we find out that the candle is fake. Later, Rei gets ahold of the real candle, and uses it to weaken D, finally killing him with a wooden stake. While this is happening, Doris and Dan are captured and taken back to the Count’s castle, where Lamika pleads with her father to not allow a human into the Noble family. He reveals that it is no harm, as her own mother was a human, making Lamika herself a dhampir—which she despises. Rei ask the Count to make him a Noble, but he is rejected. 

Just as a mutant is about to eat his dead body, D is revived and kills the mutant. Meanwhile, at the castle, the Count’s and Doris’s wedding procession is happening, and Dan escapes his cell. He attempts to kill Lee, only to be thrown into a chasm and saved by Rei, who tries to force the Count to make him a Noble with the Time-Bewitching Incense. It does not work, and he is killed. D finally appears and begins to battle Lee, which results in D stabbing Lee with a sword. D uses his powers to destroy the castle, and we see it sinking into the ground. Because of this display of power, we learn that D is thought to be the son of Count Dracula the legendary King of Vampires. 

Finally, Doris and Dan are safe, and D sets out under a clear sky. 

Characters Edit

Doris Lang - A girl, most likely in her early 20s if looking into age, who appears to be living alone with her younger brother. She is a confident person who can handle herself in most tough situations, many of which during the movie are very deadly. She doubts the abilities of D, the vampire hunter, at the start of the movie and even goes as far as deliberately attacking him to prove his worth. The deed pays off and she is able to 'hire' him to kill Count Magnus Lee, but it is doubtful that any payment was made at the conclusion of the movie.

D, the Vampire Hunter - Only referred to as D throughout the entire movie, the vampire hunter stumbles upon Doris along a dirt road and is offered money, and even her body, as payment to kill the Count Magnus. Only upon hearing that Magnus is a vampire, D stops to listen. It is later revealed that D is a half-breed between a vampire and a human, commonly known as a dhampir. Although a quiet being, D is extremely intelligent and wise. He keeps everything concise and to the point during all conversation and even during battle, only attacking when provoked. His tranquility during all moments of speech and battle can only be attributed to his sheer strength both mentally and physically. All values of his life directed towards him being the son of the Ancestral God of Vampires, Dracula.

Count Magnus Lee - An approximately 10,000 year old vampire, Count Magnus Lee is a monster. Magnus depicts his long life as boring and very uneventful. He states that he passes time by partaking in aimless activities, breeding with humans as being one of his least favorite more surprisingly. Magnus sees Doris as beautiful and the best blood he's had in years. He is determined to make her his bride, therefore causing the chain of events that occur throughout the movie. Bloodshed ensues because of the wants and actions taken by Magnus; his death being one such result of his own actions.

Dan Lang - Another extremely strong willed member of the Lang family, Dan appears to be quite young in the movie, maybe not event over the age of 15. Dan is a mentally strong and willed child, but not without the normal contingencies associated with childhood. Without parents, Doris and Dan are very close siblings, with Doris acting as a parental figure to Dan in a way. They are both inseparable throughout the movie. Even when physically separated, the other would do whatever necessary to reach the other and to regain cohesiveness.

Reception Edit

It was widely distributed by Streamline, and is considered to be one of their flagship titles. It ran multiple times on American television, namely on CBS and Cartoon Network. It was billed as one of the first animated horror films for adults. It won one award (Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in an Anime Feature Film/Special) and got three other nominations (Best Vocal Ensemble, Best Male Lead Vocal Performance, and Best Male Vocal Performance in a Supporting Role)[2].

Links to Culture Edit

Vampires have been a topic of interest around the world and through the ages. From John Polidori’s “The Vampyre”[3] to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight, vampires have fascinated popular culture. Vampire Hunter D brings this fascination to life, first through novels, then through film adaptions. It ties into today’s culture by accessing our long-held interest in vampires and how different they are from humans.

RaceEdit

Vampire Hunter D, like many other forms of media that feature the supernatural, also features those who are ‘a part of both worlds’. In this movie, at any rate, it involves being half-vampire and half-human, referred to as a ‘dhampir’. Just as vampires often deal with gender and sexuality, vampires (and dhampirs in this case) also often relates to the intersection of race. However, in this case, the typical trope is reversed: instead of the vampire being the other, representing lower classes or people of color, instead they are the proud and beautiful Nobles. The humans, on the other hand, barely eke out an existence in a post-apocalyptic world. Nonetheless, the vampire ‘must always be other, must always be ‘different’ [1].

This struggle of race is illustrated with the two dhampirs in the 1985 movie: Lamika and D, the titular vampire hunter and protagonist. D is a very known dhampir, and Lamika is later on revealed to be a dhampir as well by her father, Count Magnus Lee. Throughout the movie, the struggle revolves around the Count wanting to take Doris as a new vampire bride, having bitten her and forcing her into a marriage. Lamika rebels against this, disdaining the fact that a once-human would become her new stepmother. Being human, in this case, is just be seen as less than, and as someone who can be taken advantage of and being forced into doing what the Nobles want - in this case, humans being more generally represented as people of color, being characterized as something that is now ‘other’ as Nobles have taken over the world. [2]

D, on the other hand, is the ideal representation of the mixed person of color: half vampire and half human, he is the ultimate culmination of the best of both races. D is said to be incredibly beautiful and powerful, and almost invincible as the symbiote Left Hand is able to continue reviving him over and over again. Lamika’s disdain of humankind is then shattered when her father reveals to her that she herself is half-human, thus, a dhampir. At the end of the movie, when D offers her a choice to leave the collapsing castle with him, she refuses as that would be acknowledging her human side. She instead dies in the castle to be forever known as a Noble [3]

Both D and Lamika, as Cohen would put it in this paper on ‘Monster Culture’, ‘dwell at the gates of difference’, they are both outsiders and yet incredibly familiar all at once to both humans and vampires, being both and yet utterly neither at the same time.

Culture and Historical Nobility    Edit

The noble vampire Lee family conveys many thought processes behind the desire and pride of nobility that has mirrored human history through the course of the film. Lamika Lee as a character conveys the pride of her lineage, as she shows constant disgust in the “lower scum” that is humanity as well as spends the first half of the film trying to convince her father that his decision to marry Doris Lang would sully their pure vampire bloodline. When Magnus reveals to her that her mother was actually a human, Lamika responds with an existential shock, causing her to question herself which eventually leads to her choosing to die along side her father to stay a noble rather than live any other way. This shows the mentality of nobility where it is believed the only aspect of themselves that matters is their status and pride of their nobility. A similar viewpoint in nobility and distaste for any non-vampires are how the Cullen family perceives Bella as she is introduced by Edward in the movie Twilight. The family themselves are fairly prideful and show clear disgust for Bella, but because Edward is a higher power than them, they are bound by code to respect his decisions.

In another side of the coin, the character of Rei-Ginsei (Serene Silver star)  shows the lust and desire for becoming a noble. Rei spends all of the movie trying to hunt down Doris as well as dispose of D in order to please Count Magnus as he has proposed that Rei will become a noble if he were to successfully complete these tasks. Rei’s obsession with becoming a noble drives him to do anything and everything in order to complete his task, this includes him sacrificing his trust from the family and even losing his left hand. Similarly in the end of the film, he realizes the cruelty of nobility and how Magnus, as the embodiment corrupted nobility sees those under him as nothing but ants when Rei is denied his promise and is executed after retaliation.

This ultimate power of nobility that is exercised by Magnus is comparable to that of many of the vampires learned throughout the course. The character of Dracula in Bram Stoker's Dracula conveys a similar personality the Magnus, as they both are looking for a lover and will exercise both their influence and vampiric powers in order to obtain what or who they want. Magnus’ caricature shows how power and nobility become corrupting and that power leads to delusion of what nobility is. After realizing who D really is, he openly states that he is not a true noble and soon after perishes.     

References Edit

  1. Vampire Hunter D. Dir. Toyoo Ashida. Perf. Kaneto Shiozawa. Streamline, 1985. DVD.
  2. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090248/awards?ref_=tt_awd
  3. Polidori, John. The Vampyre. Tustin: Xist, 2015. Print.

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