Directors: Yoshiaki Kawajiri & Jack Fletcher
First aired: 2000
This was the second D movie, not a direct continuation from where Vampire Hunter D left off but a film set in the same post apocalyptic distant future (it was actually based on the third D book).
The difference of fifteen years can be immediately seen with vastly improved animation. That said good animation means nothing without solid story, pacing and direction.
The film starts within a town. After we see a skyline pull shot of a castle with rooftops filled with crosses, we see a dog peering out of a basement grill – something scares it. A carriage travels through the town, as it passes the crosses on the roof twist and melt, flowers wither and fountains become ice. I loved the opening and it was reminiscent of Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, in which the vampire had a similar ability with crosses and flowers.
The red eyed and fanged horses (that were probably cybernetic) pull to a halt outside a house. A girl, Charlotte (Emi Shinohara/Wendee Lee), lies in her bed. As the latch of her window turns the roses in a vase wilt and her mirror cracks. We see a cloaked figure, the vampire Meier Lee (Koichi Yamadera/John Rafter Lee), though we do not see him in detail. The cloak swoops into the room and we see her in the mirror, lifted by invisible hands (as these vampires cast no reflection). Charlotte is taken.
After hearing that the vampire nobles are dwindling and that the bounties on their heads have caused a new breed of hunters to emerge we see a desert ruin, men watch, through scoped rifles, D (Hideyuki Tanaka/Andrew Philpot) ride up. To me this was a slightly different D. He seemed that bit more stoic than perhaps he was in the earlier film and that stoicism worked well. He still has Left hand (Ichiro Nagai/Mike McShane) – though the animation for Left Hand and the voicing are different the character seems the same and we hear in this that it s a parasite (it even mentions that it has always been a friendly parasite).
He meets with Alan Elbourne (Koji Tsujitani/John Demita) – Charlotte’s brother – and her father (Motomu Kiyokawa/John DiMaggio). He is offered $10M to find her but refuses until the price is increased to 20. He asks what to do if she is turned and her father is practical enough to ask him to kill her. Alan is more upset and refuses to accept that she might have turned. He lost 50 men chasing after Link and Charlotte and has also hired the Markus brothers to hunt her down.
The Markus brothers are leader Borgoff (Yusaku Yara/Matt McKenzie), Nolt (Ryuzaburo Otomo/John DiMaggio), Kyle (Hochu Otsuka/Alex Fernandez) and the sickly but psychic Grove (Toshihiko Seki/Jack Fletcher). Also part of the troop is Leila (Megumi Hayashibara/Pamella Segall), a woman who was orphaned when her father was killed by a vampire and her mother turned. We see them as their tank enters a village were all the inhabitants have been turned. Whilst they have been bitten and have vampiric features they are referred to as zombies – possibly due to their slave like nature.
The film follows the chase of Link’s carriage, with D and the mercenaries crossing paths quite often whilst they also battle those who would stop them getting to Link. A moral dilemma enters the equation when Link suggests to D that Charlotte came willingly and that she truly loves him. Indeed Link and Charlotte are trying to get to the castle haunted by the spirit of Carmila (Bibari Maeda/Julia Fletcher), as there is a working spacecraft there. In a brief line, which filled the mind with visions of what the past of this world might have been like, it is mentioned that at one time the castle of each noble vampire contained a spacecraft that could take them to a city that sounded like a vampire space colony (out of the glare of the sun).
I mentioned that Carmila is in spirit form. It is mentioned by Left Hand that she was killed by D’s father due to her excesses. She can manipulate people’s minds and cause them to see illusions and, through this ability, we see D’s mother. We also see Leila as a little girl, through her own eyes, as Carmila influences her. The entire Leila and D dynamic was really well done. With Leila much less likely to fall for D immediately (unlike Doris in the last film) the filmmakers allowed the relationship to build, based on a grudging respect as more of D is revealed to her, leaving the two hunters as friends rather than lovers.
Link himself is not the ultimate evil he is made out to be by Charlotte’s family. He will do what he deems needs to be done – so he did turn a village full of people to protect himself. However he refuses to turn Charlotte as she should not have to lead a vampire’s life, he fights his own desire to feed from her and wins due to the love he feels for her, in an act of courage he leaves his carriage to rescue her from the Markus brothers even though it is still day and the sunlight burns him.
We discover a little more about D and his abilities/weaknesses. Too much time in the sun can cause “heat syndrome” making D weak (and it is potentially lethal). The cure is to be buried in the earth – of course this fits in with the native earth type traditions. We also discover that D does not age – leaving us with the question of just how long he has been doing this. We meet someone D rescued as a child who is now elderly, and the coda of the film jumps two generations on. Through Link we see that a vampire sees a human as a network of veins, when hungry at least.
This is what anime should be, an engrossing story with moral and plot twists. There were nice back story elements, neatly introduced and the actual quality of the animation was top notch as was the voice acting. Famous vampire figures were used – a hint of Dracula and a touch of Carmilla and, yet, it was never cheesy for using them. Excellent stuff, 8.5 out of 10.
The imdb page is here.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Directors: Yoshiaki Kawajiri & Jack Fletcher