Saturday, November 16, 2013

FROM THE ASHES: Segment # 10

The Illustrious D

   I am beyond excited to talk about this week's film. Ahh, D. *swoons* Before I lose myself, however, let's paint a picture of this timeless classic : Vampire Hunter D. This 1985 film was directed by the late Tooya Ashida (1944-2011), who was most noted for his work on Fist of the North Star ( both the series and movie), and Vampire Hunter D. The film was produced by Ashi Productions, known for: Machine Robo, Macross 7, Blue Seed, Ultra Maniac, and other series, but singularly Vampire Hunter D for feature films. The score was composed by Tetsuya Komuro (1958-), a very influential figure in Japanese pop in the 1990s. He has also collaborated with a plethora of artists ranging from the Backstreet Boys to Joe Lynn Turner. Speaking of artists, the character designs for this film are brought to life by living legend Yoshitaka Amano. Renowned and beloved, Amano's artwork on character design spans so many great properties, of varying media, some of which are: Angels Egg, The Heroic Legend of Arslan, The Tale of Genji, Sandman: The Dream Hunters, Elektra and Wolverine: The Redeemer, Vampire Hunter D (both the novels and films), and of course the character designs for the first 10 Final Fantasy games. Ok, ok, I can't help myself. Yoshitaka Amano is my favorite artist. Ever. Pretty amazing right? All this awesome, gathered to adapt to film the first in a long line of magnificent novels written by Hideyuki Kikuchi (1949-). Known as a master writer for his works in horror and fantasy, he has been compared to authors like H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. Other than D, some of his popular works include: Demon City Shinjuku, Wicked City, Darkside Blues, and the Treasure Hunters series of novels. That's quite a heavy list of credentials, no? Onto the film. 

   From the first moment of the opening sequence, one is beckoned by the soft and haunting score. Sure, it's very "80's" in tone, but still gets the point across. A muted and dark color palette gives but a hint of introduction to the first character, and our leading lady. Very quickly thereafter, an image of a gritty and uncaring world is established. Monsters roam the countryside tearing everything apart by night, and self indulgent and foolish monsters of men rule towns by day. Very easily can one feel alone and outcast in a world such as this. That in itself is one of the large overhead themes of the film; the outcast, and what it's like being on the outside looking in. Other powerful themes such as prejudice, betrayal, lust, pride, and revenge are all interwoven within this story. A tale of a hunted hunter, whose harshest critic is truly himself. Honestly, I could go on for ages. I love D. I greatly admire Hideyuki Kikuchi's novels. I adore Yoshitaka Amano's character designs. This is one of my all time favorite properties. I collect the novels (btw there's over 20), have both feature films on dvd, I collect the manga, and anything else I can get my hands on ( I still need the PlayStation video game). The film is a masterwork, however, it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of complexity and range of the novel on which it is based, let alone the character of D. Mentioning the changes from novel to film would be utterly pointless, and would also take ages. Still, I'd like to think of the film as a sampler; a positive taste into the deliciousness that is Vampire Hunter D. This film is far from perfect, but that's okay with me. Sometimes the animation can be shotty, and the sound quality a bit grainy. Despite these apparent shortcomings, the film remains endearing, and still represents quality work. As for which voice cast to go with; honestly you could go with either. With the Japanese cast, I felt everyone was good, save for D. And with the English cast, I felt like D alone was great. So, I tend to stick with the English cast. As always, I hope that you give this classic a chance. Its muted nature, tone and pacing may not be to everyone's liking; but its characters, story, and themes are truly timeless. Enjoy! 

From The Ashes, V.~

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