Light Novel: Vampire Hunter D
"Transient guests are we."
THIS STORY TAKES PLACE IN THE DISTANT FUTURE. WHEN MUTANTS AND DEMONS SLITHER THROUGH A WORLD OF DARKNESS.note
A horror light-novel series written by Hideyuki Kikuchi
, a Japanese horror novelist in the same vein
as HP Lovecraft
.Vampire Hunter D
is the story of a half human, half vampire
vampire hunter, usually just called D, who is scorned by the world that he roams. With the help of a morbid and otherwise obnoxious (but very useful) parasite that lives in his left hand, D wanders to wherever he is needed in a post-apocalyptic world
in the year 12,090 AD where monsters roam and humans live in fear.
and other series of the mid-eighties, Vampire Hunter D
focuses more on atmosphere than plot or prose, and pulls it off beautifully. It began as an extremely long-running series of light novels (twenty-six as of this writing, some of which are several volumes long) which spawned two anime movies. The first, based directly on the first novel, was simply titled Vampire Hunter D
. It involves him being hired to protect a young woman who has become the chosen prey of an "Aristocrat" (what vampires call themselves in this world), the sinister Count Magnus Lee
. In the second, titled Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
(based on the third novel), he is called upon to find a girl who has run off with her vampiric lover, and finds himself clashing against a group of mortal hunters. As of now there's a manga adaptation that's adapted the first seven novels as well.
Both the books and the movies possess a considerable sense of style, but are also quite disturbing, and not recommended for the faint of heart.
This franchise provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: Bloodlust sheds a lot of the more... unpleasant aspects of the third novel.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: By some reason, in the first movie Larmica has black hair and Doris is the one that is blonde.
- Adaptation Expansion: The Bloodlust movie added an incredible amount to the original story it was based on (Demon Deathchase) as well as changing a lot of details. Most notable was the introduction of a proper Big Bad and a Bittersweet Ending rather than the Downer Ending of the original, which was virtually a Shaggy Dog Story.
- Adjective Noun Fred
- After the End: Two separate catastrophes: a nuclear war that destroyed human civilization, and a rebellion that overthrew vampire civilization.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: In the first volume and the 1985 film Count Magnus Lee is determined to marry Doris Lang.
- And That Little Boy Was Me: Not only does the shopkeeper turn out to be one of the rescued children from his story, but D is also the rescuer that the townspeople betrayed in the end.
- Animesque: Yes, even a text novel can be this, though considering when it was written it may have been the Trope Codifier for a lot of things we take for granted in anime. For example, throwing something so fast it's just a flash of light (in this case a wooden stake, thrown so fast it glows from air friction!) or the "create lots of images of yourself by running around really fast" concept.
- Aristocrats Are Evil - In this setting, "aristocrat" is a euphemism for "vampire"
- The novels translate the term as "Noble", probably for the sake of brevity. Still, the trope applies: the high-class rulers of the old civilization were vampires, thus earning their new name.
- Badass Cape: D has one, not surprisingly. As does Meier Link (Mayerling in the original Demon Deathchase light novel).
- Barehanded Blade Block: Justified in that only someone as powerful as a vampire could possibly hope to pull it off. Double justified in that even a vampire would have to practice this. Count Magnus Lee learned this trick from the Sacred Ancestor himself.
- Bigger on the Inside: In the novels it is often described how the vampire castles, carriages and even coffins may be vastly huge on the inside thanks to the space-warping technology the Nobility used to possess. There are tales of people entering a vampire's coffin and never finding the way out again. They were often built to accommodate their owner for centuries, yet another way the Nobility tried to forget their own decline.
- D, who is described as being impossibly beautiful and has everyone he meets falling for him left and right.
- Vampires and dhampyrs in general are described as being unearthly beautiful creatures, when they aren't showing the monstrous side of their appearance.
- Blondes Are Evil: Count Magnus Lee's daughter, Larmica. (Inverted in The Movie, where Doris and Larmica's appearances are inexplicably swapped).
- Blood Bath: In the Bloodlust movie, the spirit of the main antagonist, Carmilla, is brought back to her physical body by bathing her corpse in Charlotte's blood.
- Boring Invincible Hero: D is as much a plot device as he is a character. More, in some stories.
- Cape Wings: In Bloodlust, Meier plays this straight and D subverts it (his cape distinctly looks like wings in the scene just before the page pic, but that's all it does).
- Celibate Hero: In the movies and novels both, D either ignores or pushes away anyone who comes on to him. He does get to first base with Doris in the first novel, but he leaves at the end of the book before things can go any further. In the first movie, Doris tries to put the moves on him, but it starts to bring out his vampiric side and he shuts things down before he loses his self-control.
- Character Exaggeration: Both followed and inverted by the Marcus Brothers in Bloodlust. In the original story, they are as much the villains as the Barbarois; they are vicious, murderous, and regularly rape Leila (even the invalid Grove). In Bloodlust, the evil aspects of their personalities are removed. However, their weaponry and abilities are enhanced to near-superhuman levels, much more so than as portrayed in the original story.
- Not so much on the second part. Due to having more page time in the novel, they are shown to be more powerful and have more varied abilities than in the movie.
- In the novel, the Marcus Brothers are genetically enhanced super humans with a wide range of powers. In the movie, they are Badass Normal. This arguably makes the movie versions, despite being significantly weaker than their novel counterparts, more impressive because normal humans tend to be very ineffective in this setting with a few exceptions. Even the weakest Dhampir is significantly more physically powerful, faster, and has better reflexes than a normal human.
- Chickification: Doris Lang sadly falls prey to this after making a strong first impression in both the novel and movie. It's not directly stated that the Lees drained her willpower or whatever, she's just too tired to be an Action Girl any more.
- Combat Tentacles: The Three Sisters' hair, which immobilizes their victim with pleasure, followed by unpleasant execution and digestion.
- Cross-Melting Aura: Meier Link is to crosses as psychics are to spoons.
- Cruel Twist Ending: The end of Pale Fallen Angels.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Dan's attack on Lee in the movie lasts less than a second with the vampire swatting Dan, knocking the kid off the bridge.
- Daywalking Vampire: As a dhampir (half vampire, half human) D can exist in sunlight without being damaged (as he does at the end of the 1985 film). That said, in Bloodlust we see he is not immune to it entirely. Prolonged bouts of staying out in the sun cause him to experience what is referred to as Heat Syndrome, sort of akin to a heat stroke for normal humans in unbearable temperatures but (if D's reactions are any indication) it also hinders his breathing, which if left unchecked would be obviously fatal.
- Deadpan Snarker: Lefty often, but D could be one at times depending on how you take some of his comments in his downtime.
- Death Faked for You: Leila says she and D will claim Charlotte is dead so that she and Meier can go in peace.
- Depraved Bisexual: Rin-Ginsei is implied to be one of these in the novel.
- Determinator: D fits this trope to a D.
- Dhampyr: It's worth noting that the dhampirs of this series have radically different powers (if ANY powers); there's, like, no baseline.
- There's really no baseline for anyone else, either. Vampire, human, mutant, construct, anything can range from minimal threat to insanely powerful. Though vampires are a bit scarier, on average, due to having spent the past ten thousand years dominating the planet.
- The problem with assessing the powers of dhampirs is that, outside D, almost no actual dhampir actually show up in the novels, and the few that do almost never really show off their abilities. Most of the comments about dhampir could qualify as Unreliable Narrator and in a few instances are heavily implied to actually be D, who is much older than he appears. Even then, some of the dhampir that do show up, including D, are either artificially created, genetically enhanced or in some non-descript way modified.
- Distressed Damsel: Doris Lang in the first movie and novel. Subverted in that she's an Action Girl too, but not tough enough to stop a millennia-old Noble on her own.
- Downer Ending: Several stories end like this.
- Dracula: The Nobility calls him the Sacred Ancestor, the god of their people. D calls him... well, a lot of things, mostly bad. The author himself gives Dracula different interpretations. At times, he makes Dracula out to be a heroic figure, even once fighting an perverse and evil vampire to save a human village in the backstory for Novel 7. Other times, like in novel 2, he's portrayed as more of a villain, apparently being the one responsible for transforming the kidnapped children into strange, kinda-sorta vampires. This is more Well-Intentioned Extremist however, since he's attempting to create vampires immune to sunlight - it's implied that such vampires would hve the best qualities of humans and vampires.
- The Dragon: Rei-Ginsei after he makes a deal with Count Magnus to become one of the Nobility. In the movie his role is drastically reduced and this is pretty much all he is.
- Dub Text: The Streamline Pictures dub inserts a direct Shout-Out to Shane in the originally wordless ending scene.
- Even the Guys Want Him: D - most men in the novels commented how seeing D makes them wish they were women(!).
- Evil Counterpart: Rei-Ginsei to D. He's quickly blown away. Later books feature several others; a couple even bring in an Evil Twin of one sort or another.
- Exposition of Immortality: Count Magnus Lee provides a pretty good example of this, though he paints a less pleasant picture of the passing of ages than a lot of immortals:
I have lived for 10,000 years. Believe me, you have no idea what that means for me: boredom. Everlasting, hideous boredom. A never ending search for ways to pass the time, and mating with a human woman is one of the few I enjoy.
- Eye Scream: Subverted in the first movie. Count Magnus Lee gets a dagger thrown right in his eye. He doesn't react, doesn't even blink, just pulls it out and regenerates the damage with a bored expression.
- Fanservice: During their fight in the novel, Doris Lang tries to distract D by dropping her clothes. It only distracts him on a very small scale, but for a completely different reason....
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: You can expect just about any creature, power or trope from horror or fantasy traditions to make an appearance in some shape or form during the novels. Even Atlantis receives a mention!
- Faux Action Girl:
- Doris Lang becomes one, eventually. Supposedly, it's due to her relying on D way too much (and falling in love with him).
- This happens to a lot of the female characters in the novels.
- Flatline: Bloodlust. After Grove sacrifices himself to save Leila from a vampire the audience can hear the flatline sound from the medical equipment attached to him.
- Giant Poofy Sleeves: Charlotte
- Half-Human Hybrid:
- D, thanks to Dracula's constant experiments.
- In the first movie, Larmica was also one. This was completely absent from the original story.
- There's also the Barberoi, an entire village of monstrous hybrids. They're pretty scary, but the elder of the village in the novel remembers how hard it was for all of them to survive and is quite reverent to D when he realizes who D must be. This sympathetic characterization was largely absent from the movie version of Bloodlust.
- Hammer Horror: A major inspiration for the series.
- Hand Signals: Bloodlust (2000). Borgoff, the leader of the Marcus brothers, makes a "move forward" gesture to his men to order them to advance toward the vampire's carriage.
- Heroic Willpower: D, despite being a Dhampir, is far stronger than most of his opponents because of his willpower and resolve not to become a monster. It helps his dad was the Big D.
- Ho Yay: This often happens with several male characters who encounter D. Some are subtle, while others say things that require Brain Bleach. There's also a bit of Foe Yay tossed around from time to time.
- Human Mom Nonhuman Dad: D's mother was human. His father was the Sacred Ancestor himself.
- Implausible Fencing Powers: D lives and breathes this trope. The impossiblity of some of the stuff D pulls is mentioned repeatedly by other characters and the narration. One example from the novels is when he cut a hologram...and rendered it incapable of reforming.
- In the Blood: Rather literally with Vampirism. It's not until Bloodlust that we even get a hint that vampires are capable of love.
- Well, in the first novel there was Larmica, who was a full vampire in this version.
- Also, isn't it pretty much stated in the first novel that the dear Sacred Ancestor really did love a human woman, resulting in, of course, D?. Of course, given his sometimes-hero-sometimes-monster portrayal between novels, it's really uncertain exactly WHAT he was doing...
- The implications aren't very good considering that in novel 6 he explicitly rapes a young woman to produce another dhampyr descendant. Though since she goes her way to mention how sad he looked in the act, he probably wasn't getting kicks out of it, either.
- Long-Running Book Series
- Mechanical Horse: Regular horses don't even seem to be around anymore, just the cyborgs.
- The Mole: In the 1985 film. While D is rescuing Dan from Rei Ginsei, Dr. Fehring takes Doris Lang to a safe location. When Dr. Fehring and Doris meet Count Magnus Lee's daughter Lamika, Dr. Fehring reveals that he was turned into a vampire the day before and turns Doris over to Lamika.
- Monster Town: The Barberois town, high in the mountains.
- Multiple Head Case: The Three Sisters and D himself, sort of.
- Naked on Revival: Carmilla revives herself out of pure blood in the Bloodlust movie, leading to this.
- Noble Bigot: Countess Lamika Lee does not appreciate her father's zeal to marry the commoner Doris Lang, thereby bringing the House of Lee to ruin, but midway through the picture she starts to realize that perhaps murder may not be the only option and decides to help Doris.
- Noblewoman's Laugh: In the 1985 film Countess Lamika Lee has one that she uses to express her disdain toward D and Rei Ginsei.
- No Ontological Inertia: In the movie, this was the cause of the Count's castle crumbling to dust when he died. In the book, though, it was due to Larmica's betrayal.
- One-Letter Name: D
- Organ Autonomy: D's left hand is alive. And it won't shut up. There's an upside when your hand can survive being severed for a while and has every reason in the world to give you CPR...
- Our Vampires Are Different: They follow most of the traditional Vampire traits and weaknesses, but there are always a few exceptions - it's mentioned a few times that some vampire lines have different talents. It gets quite a LOT of attention when a vampire acts abnormally (such as the one that can move through water freely).
- This trope really comes into play with the other Dhampirs. Their abilities almost never resemble D's.
- Dhampir other than D are quite rare. The few that show up are usually artificially created or genetically modified, which further explains the range of powers beyond simply the unpredictable results of cross-breeding two different species.
- D is also explicitly stated to be the only successful attempt to create essentially a super Dhampir. The fact no other Dhampir have his powers is, if anything, required by that plot point.
- Out with a Bang: The Three Sisters is/are a very weird and Squicky example.
- Panty Shot: Frequently from Doris, due to her very short skirt.
- Percussive Prevention: In the 1985 movie, when danger approaches Doris Lang's house she volunteers to fight alongside D. D uses the talking mouth on his hand to put her to sleep so she can resist Count Magnus Lee's summons.
- Power at a Price: Grove is bedridden, sickly and barely able to move, but when he shoots up with a powerful (and toxic) drug, he's able to create an astral projection of himself made of pure energy that blasts anything to ashes with ray beams. Oh, and apparently the power trip makes him feel awesome, because he's usually smiling beautifully during all this.
- Power Floats: Grove in Bloodlust.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The original movie was a very simplified version of the first novel (most notably the Fiend Corps were reduced to a group of mute monsters and Rei Ginsei became simply Count Magnus' Dragon), but this improved the pacing of what was a very slow book.
- Prehensile Hair: The Three Sisters.
- Puppeteer Parasite: One shows up in the novel that formed the basis for Bloodlust. It's from the village of the Barberois, but it's only got a passing interest in actually helping Meier Link and is more concerned with raping and taking over people's bodies. It's also apparently related to the talking hand thing that D has.
- Purple Prose: The early novels have bits of memorably overripe prose. For instance Doris Lang is described as having "a naked form so celestial none save the goddess Venus herself could have fashioned it." This decreases some in later novels.
- Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: In Bloodlust, after Borgoff is turned into a vampire he takes Leila hostage and orders D to drop his weapon.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Fiend Corps
- Really 700 Years Old: D appears to be a young man (and is in fact repeatedly described as such by the narrator in the novels) but is actually ancient. In at least one instance the deeds he performed in a certain area have literally passed into legend by the next time he returned there.
- Redemption Equals Death: Larmica
- Red Eyes, Take Warning
- Most vampires when they're angry, if they don't have it all the time. If D gets Red Eyes, it's time to run. No, wait, too late. You're dead already.
- The 1985 movie
- In the first few minutes Doris Lang encounters three opponent with red eyes: the monster she's hunting, a werewolf that tears off her crucifix, and the vampire leader Count Magnus Lee.
- Later on, at Count Magnus Lee's castle D meets a giant, a mutant who can summon up a ghostly wolf and the three Snake Women of Midwich, all of whom are Lee's evil servants and who have red eyes.
- Bloodlust (2000)
- The horses pulling the vampire's coach near the beginning have glowing red eyes. And if that isn't enough to tell you they're evil, they have fangs as well - apparently they're vampire horses.
- Some evil vampire bats that appear later also have red eyes.
- The Remnant: Human civilization is coming back full force and the "Aristocracy" of vampires is on the decline. Vampires can only be found in the hills of the Frontier away from the Capitol at the center of the continent. In their little micro-fiefdoms, though, they still exercise a degree of might.
- Rule of Cool: Even in the first novel, the combat is ridiculously over-the-top. D throws stakes so fast that they're a flash of light. Not because they're silver, no, they're wood; because he's throwing them so fast they're incandescing from the air friction.
- Secret Test: In the 1985 film version Doris Lang confronts D as he travels. She challenges and attacks him to find out if he's a tough enough vampire hunter to take on the vampire noble Count Magnus Lee.
Doris: I apologize for attacking you without just cause. I had to make certain you weren't a coward like so many of the others.
- See You in Hell: In the 1985 movie, when Rei Ginsei paralyzes D with the vampire-affecting candle D tells Ginsei "I'll see you in Hell".
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Demon Deathchase ended up being one of these. EVERY character except D & Leila died a pointless and unpleasant death and Mayerling's entire journey was meaningless from the start, as the spaceport he'd be heading to had been ruined for centuries. There was no real Big Bad and there were almost no sympathetic characters (especially the Marcus Brothers, who are complete scumbags in the book). This is what makes the Adaptation Expansion of the Bloodlust movie so much better- it has a real (and awesome!) climax and a really heartwarming ending.
- Village called Tepes in the second novel. Țepeș (Romanian for impaler) was a nickname of Vlad III of Wallachia, better known as Dracula.
- Count Magnus Lee is named after M. R. James's famous ghost story "Count Magnus" and Christopher Lee.
- Larmica is a anagram of Carmilla, from an early vampire story by J. Sheridan LeFanu.
- Carmilla in the second film is also obviously a shout-out to the literary Carmilla, as well as the historical Countess Bathory.
- In Mysterious Journey to the North Sea Part 1, the seventh novel of the series, there is a town named Cronenberg, after, of course, horror film director David Cronenberg.
- Shower Scene: In the 1985 movie, after D returns Lamika to Count Magnus Lee's castle there's a brief scene in Doris Lang's house where she takes a shower.
- Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: On the low end.
- Sophisticated as Hell: D on a few occasions.
- When he learns that Lefty failed to protect their current employer: "Useless little bugger."
- Seeing a giant get beat down by phantoms: "They're beating the hell out of him."
- Spell My Name with an "S":
- The Balkan word for the child of a human and a vampire is "dhampir". When that word was transliterated into Japanese for the novels and then back into English for the American release of the movies, we ended up with "dunpeal". The novels correctly use "dhampir."
- Similarly, in Bloodlust, the main villain Noble is referred to in both text and dialogue as "Meyer Link", despite the fact that a handwritten letter shown partway through the film spells it "Mayerling". The novel uses "Mayerling" consistently.
- The Starscream: Rei-Ginsei tries this at the end. It doesn't end well for him.
- The Stoic: D. His parasitic hand lampshades this occasionally.
- Stripperiffic: Doris' outfit in the first film.
- Super Loser
- Superpowered Evil Side: On rare stressful occasions, D sometimes 'vamps-out' — his eyes goes glowing blood red, he displays conspicuous fangs (which he bares in a terrifyingly feral sort of way), and his strength and presence becomes even more overwhelming. In that state he's basically a uber-Noble on super-steroids. A Curbstomp Battle almost always follows. This transformation appears to be involuntary and it takes obvious Heroic Willpower to pull himself back to his usual self.
- It is usually triggered by combat, but can set off by emotional turmoil — i.e., with Doris Lang when she offers himself to him.
- Sword Sparks: Memorably going to the point of a 'hot blade' Blade Lock where one blade was a vampire's wing.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: In the 1985 film, when D is fighting Count Magnus Lee, he throws his sword at Lee and pins him to a wall, killing him. In the corresponding book, D throws the broken-off tip of his sword—with the same results.
- Too Many Mouths: D has one on his palm.
- Transhuman Treachery: Generally, vampire thralls end up evil, and which of the mind control tropes it is varies.
- Trauma Conga Line: Doris, which decays her status from Action Girl to more Distressed Damsel as the film goes on. After losing her horse and getting bitten by the Count in the opening, she still has to deal with being shunned by the townsfolk, being kidnapped by the Count twice, having her brother kidnapped (and thinking him dead), having the only other human on her side get turned into a vampire and lead her into a trap, and fending off the lecherous son of the town mayor in between it all. Poor girl needs a hug after all that.
- Unnecessarily Large Interior: The vampires love these both in the movies and novels. The novels explain that the vampires attempted to delay their inevitable decline with increasingly ambitious projects, from building miles-tall highrises to sending expeditions to other galaxies, even though it would take thousands of years and serve no practical purpose.
- The Vamp: Larmica, quite literally.
- Vampire Hunter: Obviously, but D doesn't do it as much as one might expect. In the time frame of the movies and novels vampires are mostly extinct, and D's jobs are often related to the Nobility only tangentially.
- Vampire Monarch: Count Magnus Lee, and Carmilla in Bloodlust.
- Vampire Refugee: The plot of the first novel and film.
- Vampiric Draining: In the 1985 film the three Snake Women of Midwich drain D's Life Energy by wrapping themselves around him.
- Vein-O-Vision: How vampires see humans. It's made a point of in the novels how even the most kindhearted of Nobles will inevitably succumb to their instincts if they have to spend long periods in the company of mortals. When exceptions are seen, they tend to be huge plot points.
- Walking the Earth: Hunters must do this constantly, D, obviously, being no exception.
- Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere
- Weakened by the Light
- Sunlight isn't immediately fatal to vampires. Rather, exposure to more than a few seconds of direct sunlight causes them to catch fire, burning painfully so long as they are exposed. Heroic Willpower is invoked if a vampire stays in sunlight to do something important, as is a vampiric Healing Factor if they make it back to shade. However, only the High Nobility are capable of even trying this. Most vampires are entirely comatose during the day, even if they remain underground.
- The 1985 film. Count Magnus Lee sends Rei Ginsei a candle. Its light paralyzes any being with vampire blood in its veins. Greco Roman steals it and uses it against the Count's daughter Lamika. Rei Ginsei gets it back and uses it against D (successfully) and Count Magnus Lee (not so successfully).
- We Meet Again: In the 1985 film Rei Ginsei says this to D when D arrives at Count Magnus Lee's castle. They had met earlier when Ginsei visited Doris Lang's farm.
- Weird West
- The Western
- What the Hell, Townspeople?: All the time. The original novel/anime has villagers stabbing the protagonists in the back multiple times to save their own skins, and D always gets a cool welcome when he arrives anywhere on the frontier.
- World of Badass: The stories run on the physics of awesomeness.
- Yoshitaka Amano: Illustrated the novels and designed the characters for both movies.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Lamika does this to Dr. Fehring after he turns Doris over to her. In his last moments, he regrets what he had done under the influence.