Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vampire Hunter D -- Hideyuki Kikuchi-- Adapted and Illustrated by Saiko Takaki

Vampire Hunter D -- Hideyuki Kikuchi-- Adapted and Illustrated by Saiko Takaki

This is a manga novel for adults. The themes and the violence give it a rating of 16+. It is quite graphic. The illustrator is translating a Japanese novel into manga form. She includes a few short comic strips on this process at the back of each manga. Despite being very action oriented, there are some interesting characteristics about the way the vampire hunter is drawn. He is physically lithe and beautiful to women. The lady monsters and vampires find him very attractive as well as the women he ends up protecting.

The setting is quite interesting. Long ago there was a nuclear war which annhilated most of civilization. Mutants and horrible things roamed the earth for thousands of years. Then out of the darkness rose the nobility vampires who ruled humanity for five thousand years. This rule collapsed eventually. Now, hunters roam the land, men, women, and others who unceasingly try to protect humanity from the dark creatures while a new civilization is being built. It has elements in it that remind of Jack Vance's the Dying Earth, gothic horror, a post apocalypse west, and classic horror novels.

Vampire Hunter D is a dhampir, half human and half vampire. He can walk during the daylight. He constantly seeks out the nobility which is what the monsters call themselves and kills them. He often draws sustenance from the nobles he has defeated. He dresses elegantly in a wide brimmed black hat, black leather armor, a dark cloak, and carries a sword. He also has a hand which is possessed by a ghost or spirit which talks to him sometimes.

When he is not fighting, he is talking to the local townspeople. He comes across as a kind of chevalier in his personal manners. He is shown riding a kind of mutant horse in the beginning of the story.

In Volume 1, D helps a young woman, Doris Lang, who has been bitten by a vampire. He must seek out and destroy the vampire lord which has bitten her. It reveals the inner tension inside him, as his hand says, you wanted to drink her blood more than you wanted to lay down with her. It seems that numerous of the local men have the hots for the woman he is supposed to protect as well. He must convince them to leaver her alone.

First D must face down the local townspeople who either want him dead or to leave very quickly. He also has to fight off a team of mutant hunters who want to kill the vampire lord themselves. There is constant fighting with lots of swordplay, monster fighting (a giant snakebodied woman, a werewolf, a golem and a few other creatures as well).

The manga is full of action sequences. The drawing uses very thick dark flowing lines. There is also a lot of jagged lettering used to show the fight sounds. During the fights, creatures use mystical powers against each other. For example when a creature sends a cloud of spiders to enwrap him, he uses his ghost hand to suck in all the spiders. The characters have big eyes and big hair, and finely drawn clothing.

There are three settings in which most of the action occurs, the farm of the girl and her little brother, the town which looks like something from the old west, and the gothic castle of the noble vampire.

The climactic battle is between the vampire lord Lee and Vampire Hunter D. Vampire Hunter D is revealed to be a possible scion of Dracula who most people never speak of the name of. D defeats the lord and all is put right again for the moment.

I really enjoyed the feel and style of this manga. I had seen the anime earlier. It is not for children. It is written for adults. If you like fantasy and vampire stories, you would probably like this manga.

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