Today I watched Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)
Bloodlust is not the first Vampire Hunter D film but it is the most interesting and coincidentally, best. Originally a series of novels, the franchise has been adapted to many mediums, but this anime film is one of the most notable. The series combines elements of post apocalyptic and the wild west with gothic horror and science fiction. The titular D is a half vampire who hunts the pureblooded to protect humanity on a post apocalyptic world that was once dominated by the blood suckers.
This blending of genres is well suited to an animated feature as it is very iconographic in nature. The film is like a series of tableaus displaying an interconnected network of cultural symbols previously thought distant and detached. This approach is similar to the way genre works in this film’s favour, from the opening it begins as a fast paced action flick and slowly transitions into a gothic psychodrama by the finale.
If I had to nitpick I would say this approach robs us of much of the character development until the final act of the film. There is so much action and eye candy on display in the first act that very little set up is done, this can be a good thing if you don’t have an appreciation for the tragic romance inherent in most vampire fiction as it relegates those narrative elements to the later half of the film. But it may have helped the pacing if action and angst had been more tightly interwoven.
I think Bloodlust, despite withholding story development, presents itself very well. It is one of the pieces of media you can point at as evidence that even in a post-Twilight world vampires can be cool. It presents the romantic and tragic aspects in respectful and thoughtful way that does not damage the image of the cunning predator. In terms of Anime it is also notably one of the most beautiful I have ever seen which only serves to amplify the enjoyment one can have with this. A very fun mashup of horror and action in a well articulated mashup of genres that should satisfy just about anyone. 4/5