Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)

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Released 27-Nov-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Vampire Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer-3
TV Spots-2
Storyboard Comparisons-3
Featurette-Behind the Scenes
Trailer-Madman Propaganda (9)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 97:51 (Case: 105)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (74:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Studio
Distributor
Urban Vision
Madman Entertainment
Starring Andrew Philpot
John Rafter Lee
Pamela Segall
Wendee Lee
Mike McShane
Julia Fletcher
Matt McKenzie
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Marco D'Ambrosio


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

There is an entire sub-genre within science-fiction / fantasy called "post-apocalyptic". It exists mainly to allow writers the chance to set a story in a society very different from our own, but having some factors derived from ours. The explanation for the differences is "oh, well, there was this apocalypse...". I guess you could subdivide this section based on how big the apocalypse was (hmm, I'll have a medium-size apocalypse, hold the nuclear Armageddon, thanks...). Or you could subdivide it based on how long after the apocalypse the story is set. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is set, according to the opening titles, "in the distant future". The Korean trailer is more specific: it says the year is AD 12090 I'd say that qualifies as the distant future. Clearly there has been some sort of apocalypse, because civilisation has broken down somewhat and horses are regarded as a normal form of transport, but motorised vehicles are still around (and fuel for them is available). Both swords and firearms abound in a Wild-West-like situation (not at all uncommon in post-apocalyptic fiction). However, most post-apocalyptic fiction doesn't have vampires...

The vampires have ruled, but they are being hunted down and exterminated by bounty hunters. One of the most determined and successful bounty hunters goes by the name of D. He is a dunpeal half human, half vampire (his mother was human) kind of like Blade in Blade. Being a dunpeal gives him extra speed and strength over humans, and he can stand direct sunlight, unlike vampires, but he must be careful not to stay in direct sunlight for too long. He has another unusual advantage: (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) he has a parasitic life-form embedded in the palm of his left hand it can provide advice, and sniff out scents (an unusual sidekick!).

D is offered a chance at $20 million all he must do is rescue a lady called Charlotte Elbourne from a vampire called Meier Link. He's not the only bounty hunter in the hunt, though; the Elbournes have also briefed the Markus brothers, and they have a head start. D does not let that deter him.

Some of the character designs are quite interesting, particularly the take on a werewolf-like character. D reminds me of Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name, but he has a beautiful face (no stubble!) that he seems determined to hide under that hat. Actually, there are other resemblances to the spaghetti Westerns, including the scene immediately after the opening credits, set in a broken church, and the scene in the stable.

This is an unusual and beautifully drawn anime film. Clearly a considerable amount of effort went into making it, and the results are impressive. Backgrounds are superbly detailed, and the characters are elegantly depicted. The overall feel is quite gothic (no surprise there!), and this is reinforced by the voices and music in a way I cannot consciously identify. The voice casting, particularly of the male voices, is very good; the female voices seem a little bland, but that can be partly blamed on the script, I suspect. The original director was consulted in all aspects of the making of the English soundtrack, and I think this helped a lot.

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Transfer Quality

Video

The DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio is 1.85:1, so 1.78:1 is close.

The image is extremely clear, and rather sharp. I normally consider shadow detail an irrelevant assessment in anime, but I will comment that this film has some delicately detailed dark shades. There is no significant film grain (reportedly the R1 disc has more grain than is desirable). There is no low-level noise.

Colour is used well. A great deal of the image is monochromatic, or in very dull colours, but brighter colour highlights important points the roses in the opening scene are a lovely example. There are no colour-related artefacts.

There are numerous tiny film artefacts, but few of any significant size. There's a small slice in the film at 37:11, some fluff at 70:01, and a black scratch at 90:09. I was surprised and disappointed to see a reel-change marking at 75:40 I would not have expected a transfer of a film this recent to be made from a display print.

There is surprisingly little aliasing, although at 31:46 there's very distinct jaggies on the sword. There's no moire, and no significant shimmer. There are no MPEG artefacts.

There is just one set of subtitles, in English. They are well-timed, word-for-word accurate, and quite easy to read unusually, they are all in upper case, except for the attributions (character names) which are in mixed case.

The disc is single-sided and dual-layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change comes at 74:27; the one thing that makes it obvious is the pause in the audio, but that's pretty much unavoidable given the nature of the soundtrack.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

There are two soundtracks on this disc; Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 (the latter is not advertised on the case or in the menus), both in English. I listened to the 5.1 soundtrack.

The dialogue is always clear and easy to understand, except that D always speaks quite softly. There are no obvious flaws in audio sync, not that sync is easy to check on animation.

Marco D'Ambrosio's score is excellent. It's a rich orchestral score, with some serious bass content.

This soundtrack uses every channel of the 5.1 palette. The surrounds are always active, with ambient sounds, score, and with directional dialogue it increases the spookiness most effectively.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

The menu is animated with music behind it, and a nice introductory transition.

Trailers

There are three trailers and two TV spots for this film:

Storyboard to Feature Comparison

An interesting use of the multi-angle feature here you can watch the storyboard alone, the feature alone, or the storyboard as the main image with the feature in the top right corner (I'd have preferred it the other way around, with the storyboard in the top right corner). Three segments are included:

Featurette Behind the Scenes (22:50)

An excellent making of, covering all sorts of aspects of the making of the English language version of this movie. Strongly recommended.

Trailers Madman Propaganda

As usual, this is a list of anime trailers, although this one is a longer list than most:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

This film is also available on DVD in Regions 1 and 2. By reports, it sounds as though the Region 1 disc is a bit grainy, but otherwise is quite similar.

The Region 4 disc is missing:

The Region 1 disc is missing:

The two extra features on the Region 1 disc don't sound at all compelling. I think you could be happy with either disc, but I'm pleased to have the Region 4 disc with a less grainy transfer.

Summary

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is an elegant and beautifully-drawn anime film.

The video quality is excellent.

The audio quality is excellent.

The extras are worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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