Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust posterRated R
Running Time: 95 Minutes
An animated production directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri.
Screenplay by Yoshiaki Kawajiri.
Based upon the third novel (of 12) in Hideyuki Kikuchi’s series,
“D: Demon Deathchase” (1985).


High concept for this film could be described as Clint Eastwood’s “Pale Rider” meets Wesley Snipes’s “Blade,” but given a thorough sprinkling of “Romeo & Juliet.” It’s set in a medieval fantasy world in a post-apocalyptic future where the human race, long subjugated by vampires, now hires Hunters to protect them. Hunter D is a lone rider on a black steed, who wields a longsword with deadly efficiency. But more than this, he is also half-vampire himself (a Dhampir) – hence the letter D.

This movie is not to be confused with the original 1985 movie of similar name. The original film, “Vampire Hunter D,” appeared on home video in 1992 in the United States and has been a favorite of anime fans for many years, but it was always lamented by Kikuchi that they didn’t have a higher budget to make the original.

“Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust” is a new story with a higher budget, and not simply a re-telling of the first film. In “Bloodlust,” we see yet another chapter in the Vampire Hunter’s immortal life. The film was also created for an English-speaking audience, so there isn’t a poorly dubbed voice-over or any subtitles to contend with.

I saw the first film on tape around 1992 or 1993, and this newer film is much better, improved in most respects, but not as good as I was hoping. By anime standards, this film ranks within the top 5%, but when ranked against a wider array of film and entertainment, it comes out lacking.

Other anime in recent years, like “Ninja Scrolls” and “Blood: The Last Vampire,” have better animation than “Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust,” but poorer storylines.

“Bloodlust” has a storyline that is solid, but overindulgent in its use of melodrama. There are a few good monologues, but most dialogue remains painfully tinny in parts. Still, in all, it is much better than 95% of anime out there.

I can’t help thinking about what this picture might have been, had they been granted even half of what a Disney feature costs to produce…


In the year 12, 090 A.D., the world is struggling to emerge from a darkly Gothic wasteland. Vampires, for centuries, have ruled the land with an iron fist, but now humanity is striking back at the sadly decaying race of immortal blood drinkers. Hunter D, himself, is the offspring of a human woman and the now long dead King of the Vampires. There are other Dhampir half-breeds, but none as powerful as Hunter D.

Hunter D is summoned by the patriarch of a rich family of humans whose daughter, Charlotte, has been stolen by one of the most powerful of the remaining vampire aristocracy, Meier Link. The humans offer Hunter D ten million dollars in gold for Charlotte’s safe return, and if she has been turned, to destroy her in a painless manner. After bartering for even more gold, Hunter D undertakes the job, even though the family has warned him that a rival band of Hunters, the Markus Brothers, are also on the girl’s trail.

It turns out, however, that the beautiful Charlotte has not been kidnapped after all. She loves Meier, and the two of them plan to take an ancient rocketship into exile where they will find a place to live happily ever after, away from the hatreds of humans and vampires.
The entire movie is one long chase sequence en route to Countess Carmilla’s Castle.

Carmilla is one of the last of the old time vampire aristocracy and one of the towers of her huge Gothic castle is the rocketship that Charlotte and Meier are seeking.

Along the way, the five members of the Markus Brothers’ gang are picked off one at a time by different creatures. They also fight with Hunter D, and come out the worse for wear, for fear that he will claim the prize of Charlotte. In the end, though, the only one of the rival Hunters who survives is Leila. Leila, coincidentally, happens to be as close to a love interest as Hunter D will ever know. He is too tormented and stigmatized by his half-breed Dhampir status to consider a human lover.

* Now for the ending. Don’t read any further if you don’t want to…

Poor, poor, Charlotte. She was a badly developed character, and, in the end, doesn’t make it to the closing credits. Countess Carmilla had no intention of letting the two lovers have the spaceship. Instead, the Countess uses illusion to look like Meier and tempt Charlotte to her doom.

Then Meier, of course, kills the Countess.

Leila and Hunter D arrive and Hunter D battles Meier for the body of Charlotte, which the Hunter needs to collect his bounty.

Then Leila throws Charlotte’s ring at the Hunter, who suddenly realizes he doesn’t have to take the whole body back. He can just show the humans their daughter’s ring. Hunter D lets Meier go to flee in the rocketship with the body of his beloved.

Hunter D gives Leila a ride back to her village, and in an epilogue scene at the end, returns sixty years later to watch Leila’s funeral and leave some flowers for her as he’d earlier promised. He even chats with her granddaughter before riding away into the sunset.