As the popularity of anime grows and vampiric lore continues to seduce, now is the perfect time for a “Vampire Hunter D” resurrection.
Anime has gotten much mainstream love since 2020.
With get-togethers seemingly on hold indefinitely, people had more solitude time than ever. To fill the gap, their attention partly went down the anime hole. That year, many decided to give anime a chance and became fans, even obsessive in some cases.
Since that time, I’ve personally seen expanded manga sections in mainstream stores like Barnes & Noble. People with anime tattoos proudly showcased on their skin entered my field of view. My own anime t-shirts sparked conversations with strangers I wouldn’t have previously had, too.
Even post-pandemic, anime love has not dissipated.
Netflix even resurrected the manga series and animated movie Spriggan. The fact this happened still amazes me. This is arguably a niche property. Even amongst those who like the more obscure, darker anime, Spriggan is hardly ever brought up. In my own pool of anime aficionados, I haven’t heard it uttered, for example.
This leads me to my primary thesis.
Now is the time for more Vampire Hunter D content.
Vampire Hunter D, an ongoing book series illustrated by Final Fantasy famous Yoshitaka Amano, first entered the animated format in 1985.
I saw it as a child and was forever changed. From the chilling electronic music to the gothic, almost Hammer Horror color aesthetic of the opening scenes, I was hooked. As a child who grew up in a small town bubble, I was utterly fascinated.
And then, the main character, D, appeared on horseback. His tall, silhouetted frame eventually gave way to a character reveal, unlike anything I’d seen.
D calmly appeared with a deep blue cloak, long dark hair, a mysterious blue pendant, an elegant sword, and a very wide black cowboy-inspired hat. This was alien territory.
I was there for it then… and I am here for it now.
The movie walked a perfect balance between being gothic and western influenced. D’s outfit was only one indication of this.
Cybernetic horses and an almost western-like town were complemented by women shifting into oversized snake women, a shadowy wolf, toad-like humanoid shooting spiders out of its back, and a space-bending mutant.
This mixture of aesthetics was its biggest strength and reason alone to watch the flick.
It’s something I haven’t seen anything else achieve, certainly in the same way.
The movie was followed up by another animated feature, 2000’s Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. Upping the ante of the animation quality and emotional depth, it remains my favorite.
Forever mistrusted and feared by humans, D, as a half vampire, half human (like the first movie), was instantly someone to sympathize with.
But, combined with the gothic atmosphere, more detailed art, and immersive animation, the flick stood out as a gem of adult animation.
It remains a gem.
I still hear his horses’ hooves thundering, see Carmilla, drenched in blood, crawling out of her coffin, and remember the heat of two hunted lovers in a world punishing their togetherness.
Since Bloodlust, we’ve seen creative vampire-centric animated projects like Blade and Hellsing. Both were visceral and creative in the mythologies they set up, just like the two animated Vampire Hunter D projects. Hellsing was insanely popular; Blade, unfortunately, was not quite as much.
However, Blade, like VHD, had creative creature designs like a scaly green vampire bearing tentacles out of its separated torso and legs.
Despite their varying degrees of popularity, Blade and Hellsing were just two examples of many showcasing a public interest in well-crafted, visceral, adult anime.
Black Lagoon, Perfect Blue, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, Cowboy Bebop, Neon Genesis Evangelion … the list goes on.
More recently, Castlevania made its way onto Netflix with its own brand of interesting vampires and their apologists. Castlevania itself is a unique blend of humor and horror. It’s also incredibly violent at times, much like VHD.
Based upon the hit video game series, the show, too, saw much acclaim. It managed to do so by standing on its own two feet while respecting the past.
Its raunchy and absurd humor, however, separated it from the video game series in a big way.
The video games, despite the glorious humor of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, typically aren’t associated with comedy at all. Yet, the animated series had plenty of elements in line with the spirit of the video game series.
Yes, there were, thankfully, many personal and morally ambiguous stories in Netflix’s Castlevania. But, it was balanced by sinister creatures, action, and a dreary gothic world where humans could become extinct.
The show was further balanced by stylish and detailed animation. All hallmarks of the video game series and Vampire Hunter D.
Castelvania’s own characters emote believably and persuasively. Although some favor the complete genocide of humanity, they’re sympathetically portrayed. Also, several characters, including the main ones, evolve as people.
The fire still burns for unique vampire-centric anime.
Plus, with Castlevania being on a major streaming service? Come on. Netflix is the perfect place for a Vampire Hunter D anime relaunch, even if the company is inconsistent in handling the future of “risky” properties.
The streaming giant has clearly invested in anime with its sheer number of animated properties.
With old-school anime titans like Berserk and Monster hitting Netflix, the latter concerns a neurosurgeon who saves the life of a future serial killer, the streaming service welcomes dark anime, too.
But it goes beyond anime and Netflix.
Recently Anne Rice’s beloved vampires received a revival, thanks to AMC. Its new interpretation of Interview with the Vampire and its ensuing popularity shows — even after centuries of vampiric fables — the public’s need for vampires still thrives.
As for Vampire Hunter D, it’s been quiet on the animation front since Bloodlust.
Fans shouldn’t despair, however, as a Kickstarter campaign for a comic book adaptation of a Vampire Hunter D short story was successfully funded with over $400,000 in contributions.
Although the physical version of the graphic novel hasn’t shipped yet, fans eagerly anticipate it. Anticipatory comments in a Vampire Hunter D Facebook group alone reflect this.
Moreover, audiobook versions of Vampire Hunter D books have been forged. Bearing multiple voice actors, a solid narrating voice, and atmospheric sounds, love was clearly poured into the audiobooks.
It all builds up as evidence. It is time for an animation company to take a chance on another Vampire Hunter D movie. Or, better yet, an animated series and another flick.
Who doesn’t want further animated tales of Dracula’s son and the sarcastic human face embedded in his hand? Until then, I’m checking my email often for VHD comic shipping estimates.
Written by Miles Bates