Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

There were vampires once, beginning with ever-intriguing (imagine Christopher Lee) Count Dracula, and his brood, all dark, handsome, brooding figures with fangs and lust for blood, before Mr Edward Cullen shows up (in the shape of the pale and shinning Robert Pattinson), and tamed the bloodlust forever (You see, the “good” Cullen family in Stephenie Meyer’s insanely popular and unworthy ‘Twilight’ series do not drink human blood, but that of animals).

Then, there were those half-breeds — like Blade — half-human, half-vampires, who operate without allegiance to either; they are the race unto themselves, and boy, are they dangerous!

In the very popular Japanese series of comic books, later turned into animation films, these half-breeds are called “dunpeal”, and these comics tell the tale of one such dunpeal, Vampire Hunter D.

The story is set in the distant future, where vampires have ruled for centuries. Now, their powers are in the wane and the humans have reclaimed much of the earth. There are, however, certain places which are still ruled by the creatures of the night. (If the premise reminds you of another Japanese comic book series ‘Priest’, then of course, there are similarities).

This reality of the skirmishes between daylight human and nightly vampires have given rise to groups of mercenaries, bounty hunters, who hunt vampires for money. Among them, the best is “D” because, like Blade (remember him?), he is half-vampire himself and hence can smell other vampires and like Blade, he has all the strength of the vampires and none of their weaknesses. And, like Blade, he has no love for the vampire-kind, for, they are responsible for his being. Apparently, his father was a vampire king, allegedly, Count Dracula, and his mother was a mortal. D is an all-round expert in fighting and wears a cape, and rides a horse with metal legs and has a peculiar left hand, on the palm of which resides a talkative demon (very much like Calcifer in Studio ‘Gibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle’).

In ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust’, the second animation film featuring D the Dunpeal, he is hired to rescue the kidnapped daughter of a wealthy man, or to kill her if she has already been turned into a vampire. D would willingly do so, as he doesn’t approve the union between the two species. But, there is another group of mercenaries on the same trail, and they have a young girl with them, Leila, a human, who’d would be our heroine for the story. Both the parties cross path and fight numerous creatures of the night before they could find the kidnapped girl, who, it turns out, is in love with the vampire who kidnapped her and now, they are on their way to escape into a safe haven where they’d be happy.

So far as stories involving vampires are concerned, the film doesn’t break any new ground. But, the film takes its narrative very seriously, in turn forcing us to do the same. It helps that the screenplay is fast, and the animation is flawless.

A friend had given me the film years ago, and I never bothered to check it out, it being a vampire story and being the second part of a story I did not know anything about. Then, the other day, I played the film, and I was glued into it. Worth a watch.

A Dhampir in Balkan folklore is the child of a vampire father and a human mother. The term is sometimes spelled dhampyre, dhamphir, or dhampyr. Dhampir powers are similar to those of vampires, but without the usual weaknesses. Dhampirs are supposed to be adept at detecting and killing vampires.

In recent vampire fiction, Dhampir (or sometimes "dampeer" or dunpeal due to translation difficulties with the Japanese anime Vampire Hunter D and its sequel) refers to any hybrid of one human and one vampire parent; they are half-breeds, not vampires themselves.

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is a 2000 anime film written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. The film is based on Hideyuki Kikuchi's Vampire Hunter D novels, D - Demon Deathchase.

More about Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust here.

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