A vagabond swordsman is aided by a beautiful ninja girl and a crafty spy in confronting a demonic clan of killers - with a ghost from his past as their leader - who are bent on overthrowing the Tokugawa Shogunate.
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Count Magnus Lee:
What a wonderful night this has been! For the first time in one hundred years I haven't been bored once!
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In the Streamline Pictures English-dubbed release, a graphic shot of Count Magnus Lee's face crumbling during the final battle with D is replaced with a red flash. This change remains present in all subsequent North American prints, including the bilingual DVD and the subtitled VHS released by Urban Vision. See more »
One of the things I have learned to appreciate in my ongoing exploration of Japanese Anime is it's willingness to tell a reasonably adult, well-thought-out and plotted story. Vampire Hunter D is the best example of such storytelling that I have seen in any recent fantasy piece (animated and non).
The one thing I appreciated about this film was that no one in it is a cardboard cutout. Evil is not portrayed as monolithic (if anything, it's shown as just amorality cubed) nor all humans automatically "good guys". Just like in the real world, everybody wants something. Doris wants revenge on a personal level and safety for her village on a community one. Count Lee wants to marry a bride to pass the time. His daughter wants this marriage to be stopped. The Count's time-twisting underling wants to go beyond his current station as loyal henchman. Doris' suitor wants her all to himself. D wants...well, what does D want?
Of all the characters in this story, D is the most enigmatic. If movies do indeed have a Tarot deck, as Stephen King suggests in "Danse Macabre", then D falls under the Eternal Loner (which also applies to such cinema protagonists as Eastwood's Man with No Name in the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns and Lee Marvin's Walker in "Point Blank"). A half-human, half-vampiric descendent of the legendary Count Dracula himself, he is a man of two worlds, yet not truly a part of either. In one, he is barely tolerated out of necessity. In the other, he is hated for his chosen profession. His terse dialogue makes Eastwood look as talkative as Groucho Marx. By personal choice, he has cut himself off from all emotional ties to the people around him who, I'm fairly sure, will die long before he will (consider the comment regarding Doris' confession of love: "I know.").
The big question regarding D is why? Why does he do what he does? I'm not sure that he actually killed his father, as his conversation with Count Lee's daughter would seem to disprove. Perhaps his father saw how the vampires were changing the world and not for the better. Perhaps he instilled in his son the need to always protect those who are weaker than he from the many predators that this world had to offer (as a nobleman who felt a genuine, if patriarchial, concern for his people, it is not impossible that this would be so). One thing is certain: he does not kill his chosen prey for the common reasons that other men do: money, power, prestige, or even love. Maybe he kills to make the world a better place. Who can truly say? Maybe the new movie on the way will provide some answers.
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