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