Reviews May Contain Minor Spoilers

If you're reading a review you should expect to hear some spoilers. I try to keep them to a minimum though.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Vampire Hunter D: Pilgrimage of the Sacred and the Profane

Another travelling story! D's not stuck in a village!

Night 7
Vampire Hunter D: Pilgrimage of the Sacred and the Profane (1988) By: Hideyuki Kikuchi, Illustrated By: Yoshitaka Amano

In a town at the edge of an impassable desert where insects dirge, several figures gather. Granny Viper, a 'finder,' offers the Bullow Brothers a commission to get her across the desert. Until a better prospect appears in the form of D. The younger Bullow Brother tries to pick a fight, but Granny implores D to join her. D ignores them both to meet with a gentleman about 'a person D has great interest in.' Thus, the group gathers to reach Barnabus, the village across the desert.

Unlike the journey in Demon Deathchase, D is allied with the other characters. They don't have the most effective of bonds, but they back each other up for most of the novel. It's nice to be on the road again since D stories usually become way more interesting with multiple locales. However, the desert ends up being far less impressive when the 'psychic attacks' start. They wouldn't be that big of a deal except that they're similar to the dream crap that cropped up last novel. As the novel continues, the dream aspect becomes even more annoying.

Our Hero
D has his own mission but lets his better side shine though in aiding the caravan. He could also just be being practical as he has a book that reveals some of the dangers of the desert. D is well on his road to being a hero, and his nonchalant claims about not caring for his companions really start to get old after he saves them once or twice.

Obscure Observers
Granny Viper is a people finder who'll do anything to get her charge across the desert. Granny Viper is a tough old bird, and her mysterious pot is one of the most original ideas in this book. Her ending is a little tacked on and contradictory. Self loathing can only go so far.

Tae is one of the 'hidden.' Having lived for eight months in a vampire's castle, she is mostly talked about in whispers. Her future likely ruined by this mar in her history. She spends so much of the novel as a liability that it's hard to take her seriously.

The Bullow Brothers serve as Granny Viper's official bodyguards, but the younger has a 'score' to settle with D. Both the brothers are the weakest links in the book. The younger is annoying and contrarian. The older is aloof and disappears for half the novel.

Wasteland Atmosphere
The Western feel bleeds from this book right from the saloon/whorehouse at the start. The Vampire Hunter series has always had something of a Western film influence, but this one really lets that aspect shine. The wasteland itself has some interesting ideas that unfortunately get explained to oblivion by the end.

In the End
The end is where Amano really messes things up. He tries to have a message about preconceptions and judging oneself, but it really ends up muddled an confused. Too much nonsensical plotting and ridiculous betrayals.

This journey is one that's mostly worth taking. Amano mentions that this is his first big attempt at characterization. He makes a good stab at it, but goes a bit too broad. He ends up generalizing on Dhampirs while noting that we've been following the exception for six books now! There is solid action and some fun ideas, but it doesn't quite cut it.

Next Time: Dark D.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Vampire Hunter D: The Stuff of Dreams

Yeah, dreams, it pretty much speaks for itself...

Night 6
Vampire Hunter D: The Stuff of Dreams (1986) By: Hideyuki Kikuchi, Illustrations By: Yoshitaka Amano

D slumbers in a forest of the frontier, and the monsters can't even attack him while he sleeps. He is roused by a giant who fires some arrows at him. After being hit in the shoulder, D follows the giant to a mansion where a party is occurring. As he approaches, he sees no one. Upon entering, he discovers a seventeen year old girl dancing with an unseen man. After unsuccessfully inquiring abut the giant, D awakes as dawn breaks. He follows the route he took in his dream and comes upon the same mansion.

This tale features D trapped in a village by a slumbering woman. This sleeping beauty has been out for thirty years ever since an attack by a noble. The biggest problem with this tale is how little happens. D faces a clone of himself and defeats him with ease. The stakes are basically offered in one line with "you can die in a dream." The same line in every dream story ever. More villains stream out of the woodwork and D must fight the dream itself. This faulty premise is at the heart of everything in this novel and, unless you like dream stories, makes this one tough to like.

Our Hero
D really wants out of this story, and I don't blame him. He's called in by Sybille and immediately is disinterested and wants to leave. D is at his most callous in this story probably because he knows whats going on.

Slumbering Observers
Nan is incredibly similar in attitude to Lina. Both are young, slightly-bratty girls who have a crush on him. The biggest difference is that Nan has even less character. She mostly just hangs around D and talks about how she dreamed about him or how she's jealous of Sybille (irony?). Thus, she serves almost no function in the story aside from the one that is obvious from her first appearance.

Ai-Ling is the wife of Kurtz who looks after a ranch on the edge of town. She knows her husband loves Sybille and is jealou beacuse of it. She exists mostly to further the possible autonomy of the residents.

Sybille Schmitz is the mysterious sleeping beauty of the village. She wants D to get rid of someone, but is unable to tell him who. This occurs at the very beginning of the story, and doesn't crop up again until the very end.

Sheriff Krutz is amiable to D at first, but slowly becomes more unhinged. The sheriff has the most development and is the most relatable of the new characters in this tale. He could have held the narrative together until the story betrays his character and the reader near the end.

Suprise Foes
The Bio Brothers aren't even mentioned until the last third of the book. They fight D a couple times, but don't provide anything new.

The Dream Assassin shows up, fires arrows, and leaves for most of the book. He's kind of like if Borgoff from Demon Deathchase could create reality bubbles to fight his foes in. It sounds cool, but this villain has no personality. I almost left him out of my write up like the meaningless nobility from Tale of the Dead town, but left him in for his powers.

Isolated Atmosphere
Once again, the story is isolated to a peaceful village. Thus, this story offers little in embellishing D's world. The writing is still as clean as it gets, but it's hard to care about what's happening since the conclusion is so obvious.

In the End
It's in the title, and that's the biggest problem of this story. It ends like a campfire ghost story, but this is a narrative not a ghost story.

A mystery with little mystery. In the postscript, Kikuchi mentions that he wanted this novel to ruminate on what a noble dreams of. Hence the nobility and humans living together in peace, but the biggest problem is that he covered this in Raiser of Gales where a painting reveals hands rising from coffins toward the sun. It is a much more powerful passage though embedded in a flawed story. In this tale, the dream is used as an excuse for flat characters, overpowered villains, and  lackluster setting. It is basically a stretched out short story. This one should definitely be skipped as basically nothing happens.

Next Time: Desert D!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Vampire Hunter D: Tale of the Dead Town

Here we come to the only one I distinctly disliked during my initial read. Let's find out why...

Night 5
Vampire Hunter D: Tale of the Dead Town (1986) By: Hideyuki Kikuchi, Illustrated By: Yoshitaka Amano

D spots a trio of fire dragons tearing apart a camper. When he goes to investigate, he discovers a biker trying to save the remaining survivor. The biker, Pluto VIII, manages to save the young seventeen year old girl, but she has severe radiation poisoning and must be taken to the nearest village. D leads them to his next client, a floating village, and the girl's former home.

Tale of the Dead town build around the mystery of a two-hundred year old deal the mayor made, how it relates to the current attacks on the town, and how it relates to the girl's family. The set-up is good enough with the villagers being suspicious of the new arrivals and D deducing that the vampire will strike that night. Things start to go wrong after the initial confrontation with the vampire that set the stage for the rest of the novel. They kill the vampire and heal the plot device the mayor's daughter. D reveals there's another vampire; however, what follows isn't more of D's deductions but a series of random events.

A deaf-mute you say?
Our Hero
D has come to the town to save the mayor's daughter, Laura, who is basically reduced to plot device status who has been bitten by a vampire. D actually goes through quite a few deduction that reveal this to have been a possibly good mystery. D is the consummate sleuth, but his opponents are less than worthy.

Obtuse Observers
Lori Knight is the young girl that D and Pluto saved from dragons. Her parents were chemists who discovered something that everyone wants to get their hands on. Her hearing and voice were damaged by the radiation, but she manages to do more to help the situation than most of the cast. Naturally, as the pretty young girl, she falls for D, but once again it is framed more as affection for her rescuer enhanced by his beauty aura. At this point, I really want to see a pretty young man fall for D; at least it'd be something different.

Dr. Tsurugi is the town's docotr who has taken an interest in D. Not in the way I mentioned above, but in a less specific way. He's set up as a possible antagonist, but he doesn't act that way. It turns out he's just waiting to mention something to D.

Mayor Ming is a real shifty character, but some of his decisions are headscratching. Why would he mention his encounter with a vampire? It makes no sense after you find out what's been going on. Why does he try to reject Lori Knight when they first try to board the village? Once again, by the end, it is in his best interest that Lori boards. His hiring of D is also suspect. He wanted to save his daughter, but he really didn't need the best hunter ever.

John M. Brasselli Pluto VIII is a loud blowhard who may or may not be hiding something. He's a rather enjoyable character whose motives are kept hidden to heighten the mystery of the story. He has a few awesome abilities that her mostly wasted, and he's fun until he goes off the deep end like the rest of the plot.

Floating Atmosphere
Being confined to a village again is a real let down. After the initial promise of a 'floating city' with something called a Prometheus cannon, it turns out to be a normal village with fewer monsters that moves. There are a few interesting scenes like the opening one, D's encounters with the intangible being, and his fight with the predatory birds. Sadly, it is just confused by the end.

In the End
A pointless pirate ship, radically shifting loyalties, and some fan service, the plot kind not the sexy kind, Honestly, the end is a jumbled mess. There is a ghost pirate ship and it is boring and completely pointless! How does this happen?

Tale of the Dead Town tries to be another mystery, like Raiser of Gales, but the flaw this time is not perverse ridiculousness. It is that the mystery is revealed too soon, and it's supposed message doesn't make any sense. The city is stagnant; therefore, there is no hope. Yay, pessimism! The villains are lame with not one ever presenting a real threat. This story should have been The Adventures of Detective D; instead, it is stuff happens while D is a boss. While it is much less reprehensible than Raiser of Gales, it has fewer high points as well. Read it to be a completionist or read the last chapter for an update of characters that are way better than this in this book.

Next Time: Dormant D

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Vampire Hunter D: Demon Deathchase

Following the bloated attempt at mystery, D returns to form with competing vampire hunters and several worthy adversaries for D.

Night 4
Vampire Hunter D: Demon Deathchase (1985) By: Hideyuki Kikuchi, Illustrations By: Yoshitaka Amano

The vampire hunting Marcus Clan arrives at a village that has been completely deserted. As they prepare to leave, they're met by a ghostly vision of the man who hired them. He tells them to go to his sister after they've saved his daughter. However, they realize that he's talking to another figure: D. After that the man looses control of himself, the city rises, and the hunters must fight their way out of the city. After that, they're in competition to save the man's daughter from the noble Mayerling.

This novel continues the trend of shortening D novels, and it really works for this. The first half of Bloodlust is based on this, but the movie adds a whole section with Carmilla at the spaceport castle. This novel is a chase narrative, and it's gloriously paced. There is even something of a three act structure as they go from the dead village to Barbarois to the Claybourne States. The There are ten characters total, and after the twenty in the last novel it is great to see some focus on characterization.

Our Hero
D is set against a bevy of foes who prove that they are worthy of fighting him. As such, D is often portrayed more as an antagonist than a protagonist. This could set into light the darker sides of his job if he hadn't spent the last two books and seventy percent of this one playing the hero.

Curious Observer
Charlotte is a young woman abducted by Mayerling, though she doesn't actually have a name in the novel. 'Charlotte' is the name given to her by the Bloodlust adaptation and it works better than 'that pretty abducted girl.'

The Marcus Clan
Nolt uses a hexagonal stake wheel. The Marcus Clan are a family of renowned hunters who are famous for taking on tough nobility. Nolt himself serves a basic melee fighter who is less patient than his brothers.

Kyle uses throwing blades that he manipulates using piano wire. Kyle is a cocky prick; he's a less interesting Rei Ginsei but serves his purpose in the family while being a serious threat.

Groveck is the cripple of the Marcus family, but he is actually their strongest member. His deleopment comes late in the novel, but it's great to see it.

Borgoff is the leader of the Marcus clan and the eldest. He's huge, imposing and intelligent. He wields a crossbow with uncanny accuracy and has limited magical power. He's also ruthless with both friend and foe.

Leila is a harsh woman who's been through hell. She has suffered similar treatment to Lina in her recent past, but it has only served to harden her. She almost puts it aside. Unlike Lina, she is a capable hunter and mechanic. Also, unlike every other woman in the series, Leila develops feelings for D because he saves her life: a reason not related to his looks! Plus, she relaizes by herself that she can't go with D and chooses hr own path in life. Leila is kind of like Lina but done right.

Feeling Foes
Benge is a mysterious old man who first appears taunting Leila. He is a sorcerer who uses his strange techniques to attack while remaining concealed. He is among three demon-human hybrids hired by Mayerling to help him get to the Claybourne Estates. He acts as the voice of reason for the hybrids.

Mashira is a cocky brute who takes too strong a liking to their female charge. Mashira is a great mirror to another character, but I'd rather not spoil his power. The wait is worth it.

Caroline is a dhampir who can control technology with her bite. Her desire to become a full vampiress mixes with her fascination of Mayerling to cause her to betray her charge. It is refreshing to have a powerful woman interested in someone other than D. It is also cool to see that Dhampirs have as much variety as the nobles that spawned them.

Mayerling is the noble villain of the novel, and he is every bit the reserved gentleman. Last novel, the audience was told that D met his match. This novel we see Mayerling fight D to a standstill then leave him in the dust. He has abducted a young girl, but seems to be keeping hr human for a suspiciously long time.

Epic Atmosphere
This novel hits the road, freeing the plot for the standard frontier village setting.Once again, there is a decrease in the rhetorical question count and D's beauty count. There a re three vividly described settings and a few places in between. The setting comes alive in a bit different light than the previous setting as the frontier expands.

In the End
The ending is once again a bit weak. This novel attempts to question whether or not D is a good guy, but ens up making his good choices seem natural and his bad choices puzzling.

This novel has everything that one could want in a D novel. The action is superb with every character having a different and intriguing way of fighting. The additions of the hybrid city, Barbarios, and the forlorn robot battlefield are fantastic settings that enrich the world while allowing for epic battles. This novel even has a slight edge over the first thanks to a much cleaner translation. This is one of the must reads in the Vampire Hunter D series.

Next Time: Dull D.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Vampire Hunter D the OVA

Onto the anime that first attracted Western audiences to the light novel. Normally I stick to written works, but I'm back in school, so I've thrown the D animations into my lineup.

Night 3
Vampire Hunter D (1985) is an Original Video Animation (OVA) directed by Ashida Toyoo, the man behind the gory Fist of the North Star animes.

The film begins with the fact that is in an apocalyptic future, ruled by monsters and demons. We shift to Doris, or rather her ass, running through a field. She blasts an acid spitting dino to bits before she's surprised by a werewolf. He rips the cross from her neck and leaves. We then get a look at the ferocious Count Magnus Lee as he looms in the thunder. We hear doris' screams as the title appears. We then see our hero, the shadowy D walking through various post apocalyptic settings. The wind rusheds around rocks and Doris stands in a field where she challenges the hunter,

The fact that Doris is wearing a cross at the start tells readers of the novel that we've lost something. One of the cool things about the novel is how thoroughly it established the Nobility's control of humanity. With crosses everywhere, it takes away a unique element from the novel's mythology and indicates that this is going for a much more general base. At least Doris didn't strip in the first scene though she wears almost nothing (put on some pants or a least a longer skirt girl!), and there is the requisite show scene. Ah, 80s anime, all the TnA and gore an adolescent boy could ever hope for. The OVA is essentially snippets of the novel barely merged into a barely coherent, poorly paced mess of a film.

Our Heroes
D is an unstoppable killing machine. With almost every problem, he hacks, bites, and slashes his way through it. It is very similar to the nigh invincible way he's portrayed later in the series. He also seems to have more control issues though that may result from the bizarre pacing of this OVA. Plus, D resisting his vampiric urges just looks like him... being a bit premature in response to Doris' advances.

Doris herself gets far less less to do than the novel. She gets captured three times... She defeats zero villains... The way the story got blended and made more generic resulted in the absolute butchering of Doris' character. She becomes a generic 'save me' heroine. Lame.

Dan is a badass?!? Seriously, he saves Doris twice and manages to sneak into the Count's castle at the end, somehow. His idolization of D is the thing that gets pretty much the only small moments as he gets advice from and imitates our hero.

Fierce Foes
Rei Ginsei is the worst off of the main villains. He's been sort-of merged with Garou as Count Lee's main henchman, though Garou appears twice in wolf form before disappearing from the film. Rei Ginsei desires immortality and develops his rivalry with D; however, he is constantly whining and laughing. He screams for half a minute when D chops his hand off. Worst of all, he doesn't get killed by D.

Larmica is the same as in the novel. She's great, and I have no complaints.

Count Magnus Lee's intro is awesome. Sufficiently seating him as a force to be reckoned with. There is some awkward imagery of him in his castle, but he mostly remains the same aside from doing a bit more.

In the End
The ending is far better than the contrived pondering of D's origin from the novel. The count's castle gets a trippy endscene. Unfortunately, it is followed by an idyllic ending with happy music. What?

This film has some solid 80s animeisms and will satisfy most viewers just looking for that, However, the plot and story are hacked up and reassembled with watered down characters. It has become so generic that it hurts, especially if you've read the novel. It's a cult classic and essential anime, but it's just not that good. However, it isn't terrible. I agree with DC; weird but not great.

Next Time: D's Deathrace!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Vampire Hunter D: Raiser of Gales

The second D novel is only slightly shorter than the first, but with far fewer interesting characters.

Night 2
Vampire Hunter D: Raiser of Gales (1984) By: Hideyuki Kikuchi; Illustrations By: Yoshitaka Amano

A funeral congregation trudges slowly across a bridge with burly men carting a child-sized coffin wrapped in chains. A hand bursts from the coffin and one of the men goes to restrain it. The coffin struggles mightily and both go over a bridge. All of this happens in broad daylight: a time when the dead should not walk.

This novel oversells itself right off the bat. The setup is one of the best hooks of the series, and this novel does its damnedest to live up to them. The novel involves a mystery noble with all the nobility's strengths and seemingly none of their weaknesses. It is all potentially connected to an event a decade in the village's past when four children were thought abducted by a noble then three returned mysteriously. Thus, this novel shifts genres from action-horror to mystery-thriller. The expansion of the lore is solid in this volume with the ever expanding horrors including a pseudo-arachnid, a lightning beast, and redcap faerie-goblins. Unfortunately, they become part of the problem as the audience in any decent mystery should be able to try and solve it. With only one book to fill the read in, this novel is forced to explain things while keeping the mystery solidly in things unexplained.

Lina can't believe her mistreatment.
Our Heroes
Lina is a plucky young girl who was among the abducted a decade in the village's past. She's immature, childish, and cocky. She's meant to be a dreamer who focuses on a better future rather than her her horrible present and past. Thus, she's raped by her adoptive father every night... something that says more about his character than hers. She's also constantly the victim, and few of those who do her harm get what's coming to then. When they do, it's never by her hand. She's used by almost everyone in the novel, which is especially depressing after the high bar set by Doris and Larmica. Bye-bye good will from last novel.

D is hired by the mayor to solve the mystery of the recent disappearances, including that of his colleague the Vampire Hunter Geslin. D is far more vocal, and far further behind the plot this time. At least that's the way it seems. D is still ahead of the read, but it Holmesian fashion refuses to reveal it until the end.

Abandoned Observers
Mr. Meyer is Lina's teacher and one of the four who was abducted. He spends most of the novel chiding Lina about her studies and being standoffish with D. He is tremendously uninteresting and is a good representative of the revolving door of villagers who show up in order to either mysteriously vanish or become vampires.

Curore is the third child who returned with Mr. Meyer and Lina. However, his mind was damaged beyond repair, so he has become Lina's hulking protector. A great idea for a character who ends up in the same boat as Lina. He's used by the powers in and around the village to achieve their own ends though notably he's sexually abused less than the attractive woman.

D needs a drink for this shit.
Shadowy Foes
The Mayor is a rapey douche. He does even less to drive the plot than the previous mayor while being even more reprehensible.

The Youth Brigade are a bunch of rapey douchebags who get to do what they want because they're big and strong. Not enough of them get what they deserved.

The Shadow is exactly who you think it is, but he's doing it for even more foolish and deluded reasons. He is set up to be such a cool villain, yet he loses his steam by the end. His psychic attacks start cool, but become tired filler dreams that interrupt and confuse the narrative. He ends up being the only active plot device who's determined to make this book reach a page count rather than let the plot unfold.

Obfuscating Atmosphere
The novel suffers from fewer flaws than the first volume. The incessant reminders of D's beauty are still there, but the narrator questioning things is far fewer. Sadly, another flaw becomes more prominent in the descriptive language. More than once I had to reread passages to try and figure out what I just read, The jumbled word salad that results from the use of a thesaurus to create variety without concern for reader understanding. Kevin Leahy should have used more synonyms for beauty rather than using big words to inflate this lame mystery. There is a blessing that Amano brought his A-game to the art for this novel as represented by the samples.

In the End
The end would be touching if it centered around a character who was more interesting and proactive. It is meant to be a big dramatic end, but the story before it was too strung out and frail to support it.

When you replace the action with a young girl's dreams and a high amount of murder and rape, this series takes a dive. There are good moments in this. I loved the mythology expansion, especially the rain's effect on the frontier. The tamed monsters were another great addition to the universe as is the space loop. Too bad the rest of the novel stretches the mystery to the breaking point. It is easy to see why this was passed over when the second D film was made. If you can put up with a lot of gross filler, you might get through this one.

Next Time: D's Debut!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Vampire Hunter D the Novel

Inspired by Hammer classics Horror of Dracula and Curse of Frankenstein, this pulpy novel opens this year's 13 Frightening Fictions Special: 13 Days of D!

Night 1
Vampire Hunter D (1983) By: Hideyuki Kikuchi, Illustrations By: Yoshitaka Amano

A woman stands alone in a field and challenges a lone rider to a duel. After discovering his skill, she hires him to help her defeat the Vampire Lord Magnus Lee who wants her as his bride. Doris, the girl, wants to protect her little brother, but must fend off the advances, not only of the count but of the Mayor's son: Greco and Behemoth Hunter Rei-Ginsei. D, the eponymous hunter, must contend with them all before dealing with count.

This novel is a great anime in written form. Part of a Japanese genre known as light novels, which are similar to novellas, Vampire Hunter D is essentially Kikuchi's effort to blend Western and Japanese horror. This series also has some well described action, though it does fall into some classic anime 'badass tropes' with all the gawking and pausing and 'ultimate techniques.' These are Amano's go tos, and if you dislike them here, they only get worse later. The fan translation by Kevin Leahy is rough, often requiring a few reads to get through a section. However, he gets better as he continues with the series. In this one, though, there is awkward phrasing and a lot of places where the narration questions who D is is talking to or how something happens. It tends to pull a reader out of the story, but it doesn't quite ruin it.

Male gaze, anime enough for ya?
Our Heroes
Doris is the gorgeous daughter of a werewolf hunter, and she'll do anyting to protect her brother as well as her father's legacy. She's willing to do just about anything, even sell herself, to keep up her way of life. While I don't like the fact that she feels it's necessary, she at least treats it like a seventeen year old girl would: being unsure and afraid about the experience. That said, she is a boss. She takes on Rei-Ginsei, a Sorceress, and is even willing to face her fear of Count Lee in the end.

'D' is the beautiful badass hunter who is hired to kill the mighty Count Lee. We're told of his beauty about as often as Edward from the Twilight series, which is a shame as D is a far higher caliber of character. His portrayal as an action badass is actually effective. He's show to be incredibly good through skill and tricks; however, not unbeatably so. That is something the later books fall into. His characterization is shown almost entirely through defying the expectations of others. This is something that should be a more common writing technique as it means that his actions speak for him. Sometimes, the novel spells it out, but for the most part it's easy to see he could be the hero of over thirty tales.

Innocent Observers
Dan is Doris' little brother. He has a deep love for his sister and develops a hero worship of D. He falls into some of the pitfalls of the little kid character: hero worship, naivete, and being captured. However, I'd rather have him being captured than Doris.

Fiendish Foes
Larmica is the count's daughter. Her fervent opposition to having a younger mother strikes a very human chord. She has an arc over her own and is the best used of the supporting cast. Everything she does affects the main cast; plus, it forces them to alter their plans. She is also one of the few powerful females in the series who cuts out her own path. The next closest is Leila in Demon Deathchase.

Garou is the Count's werewolf henchmen. He's a bit underutilized, but he gets a great creepy bit at the end that justifies his skulking presence throughout.

Greco is the Mayor's son and Doris' greasy little suitor. He goes to any length to try to sleep with Doris. Greco is the man the audience loves to hate.

Rei-Ginsei is a cocky, underhanded bastard. He has an incredible mutant ability that feeds his ego. He becomes offended when D's vampire powers cause him to freeze then jumps at the chance to get more power for doing what he was going to do anyway. He's the villain that the audience can love to hate, but also kind of want to be like.

Count Magnus Lee does things like a boss. He delegates his minions to take out D, and only when they have all failed him, does he decide to fight D. He is even willing to use Rei-Ginsei's hired help as so not lower himself to D's level. It is not until D's full powers are revealed that he knows he must confront D.

This novel is a true testament to world building. Set in 12000AD in a post-nuclear holocaust world where Vampires once ruled, it combines the horror aesthetic with science fiction elements. The ruling vampires, known as 'the Nobility,' have a love of Medieval castles while using science to create all the classic horror monsters. Amano's cover illustration is gorgeous and ethereal; unfortunately, the interior illustrations are lacking. They often don't feel like they're depicting the best scenes. My personal favorite is the one on the left, and it's okay at best.

In the End
The lead up to the end involves a gauntlet of quick fights against increasingly tough foes. Sadly, the end does a bit too much explaining and ends on a hokey, obvious point.

The first D novel sets up a moody world of horrors for its adventure. It is stocked with impressive characters and builds on the action down to the final showdown with Count Lee. While it is essentially a series of fights, they are linked by character growth and motives. The story progresses and even some of the villain manage to be likeable in their own ways. I highly recommend this novel: it's light, fun, action-packed; plus, it provides a fascinating blend of horror and science fiction. Check it out!

Next Time: Drafty D