Our 24th podcast episode was vampire themed and it discussed the culture and films of our favorite blood sucking fiends. (LISTEN TO THE EPISODE). However, we overlooked one area of media, ANIME! The 80s and 90s had oodles of vampy anime with the most notable one probably being the 1985 feature-length animated film Vampire Hunter D.
Based on the manga of the same name, Vampire Hunter D featured artwork by Yoshitaka Amano. Amano has an impressive resume including artwork for much of the Final Fantasy game series. Even if you are not a connoisseur of anime you might have heard of Vampire Hunter D. It’s a Sci-Fi, Horror, Western, Fantasy mash-up and it’s a gory, glorious romp. Watch on as a mysterious, cloak-wearing badass only known as “D” slashes his way through hordes of ghouls, goblins, mutants, trolls, flesh-eating mists, and snake women across a post-apocalyptic wasteland on his steam-powered android horse to save a girl from the clutches of an evil vampire lord. It currently has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 83%. That’s pretty damn good for a non-Ghibli Studios anime feature-length film.
Vampire Hunter D had a sequel in 2000 called Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. Hitoshi Yamaguchi was in charge of cinematography, and some other works of note of his include Ninja Scroll, Battle Angel Alita, and METROPOLIS. Once again we find D on a quest to save a girl from the local big bad vampire whose been terrorizing the countryside. A fun aside: In the first film, D has a parasitic entity living in his left hand, and while D hasn’t aged much from the previous film, his buddy ol’ Lefty has. I love those types of attention to detail and keeping with previously established canon.
Blood: The Last Vampire is a feature film which takes place during WWII and follows braid-rocking Saya, a stoic schoolgirl who is more than she seems (ain’t that always the way?). The monster designs are cool and creepy with plenty of blood and gore, so it lives up to the name. It was received very well in the film festival circuit and has won several film and animation awards. Blood: The Last Vampire has since spawned a Japanese live-action film, a video game, manga, and two animated series.
Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge is a mini-series based on the 1994 video game for the PlayStation and several of the characters from Night Warriors are featured in the arcade game Marvel Versus Capcom. One of my favorite characters to play is Morrigan Aensland (SOULFIST!). There was an animated Darkstalkers TV series made for America which aired on UPN and the violence and sexual themes were toned down for a younger demographic. I would shy away from the Americanized version, it looks terrible. Watch the original Japanese animated version if given a choice.
Other vampiric anime titles include serious and moody, Vampire Princess Miyu, comedy, Master of Mosquiton; magical girl comedy, Devil Hunter Yohko; and people rave about Hellsing, but haven’t seen much of it yet.
So if you are a horror fan and were thinking of dipping your toes into some anime, these are a great start. There are worthwhile horror titles that break preconceived notions about anime. As always, the trick is just finding them. Happy (vampire) hunting!
— Tessa Morrison, Blood Over Texas Contributor