Vampire Hunter D (1985 film)

Vampire Hunter D (Japanese: 吸血鬼ハンターD, Hepburn: Kyūketsuki Hantā Dī) is a 1985 Japanese horror OVA film produced by Ashi Productions, in association with Epic/Sony Records, CBS Sony Group Inc. and Movic. The screenplay is based on the first in the long-running series of light novels written by Hideyuki Kikuchi.

Vampire Hunter D
Vampire Hunter D OVA poster.jpg
Theatrical poster, designed by Yoshitaka Amano
HepburnKyūketsuki Hantā Dī
Directed byToyoo Ashida
Produced by
  • Hiroshi Kato
  • Mitsuhisa Hida
  • Yukio Nagasaki[1]
Screenplay byYasushi Hirano[1]
Based onVampire Hunter D Volume 1
by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Music byTetsuya Komuro[2]
Distributed byToho
Release date
  • December 21, 1985 (1985-12-21) (Japan)
Running time
80 minutes[1]

Billed by the Japanese producers as a "dark future science-fiction romance", the film, like the novel before it, is set in the year 12,090 AD, in a post-nuclear holocaust world where a young woman hires a mysterious half-vampire, half-human vampire hunter to protect her from a powerful vampire lord. It was featured in Michael and Janet Jackson's music video of this song, Scream.


While walking her guard rounds in the country, Doris Lang, the daughter of a deceased werewolf hunter, is attacked and bitten by Count Magnus Lee, a 10,000-year-old, long-lost vampire lord (also known as a Noble) for trespassing in his domain.

Doris later encounters a mysterious vampire hunter, known only as D, and hires him to kill Count Lee to save her from becoming a vampire as she is infected from Count Lee's bite. While in town with Dan (her younger brother) and D, Doris is confronted by Greco Roman (the mayor's son) about the Count's attack and D, and promises to help her if he has Doris for himself. When Doris refuses, Greco reveals what happened to the entire town, including Dan. D requests that the authorities, including Greco's father, the town sheriff and Dr. Feringo (Fehring in the English dub), should hold off Doris’ incarceration at the local asylum until he kills Count Lee which will cure Doris's vampire infection.

That night, Doris's farm is attacked by Rei Ginsei, Count Lee's servant and Lamika, Count Lee's daughter, who is highly prejudiced against humans and dhampirs. D is able to easily defeat Rei, but before he can finish Rei off, Rei reveals he has the ability to twist space around him and is able to redirect D's death blow onto D. Before Rei can finish him off, D reveals he has recovered from the redirected attack in seconds revealing he is a dhampir and after easily reflecting Lamika's attacks, orders both of them to leave with a warning to Count Lee. The next day, D travels to Count Lee's castle and attempts to confront the Count. Aided by the symbiote in his Left Hand, D holds his own against the Count's monstrous minions, including Rei and his companions Gimlet, Golem and Chullah. While in the castle's catacombs, he is ensnared and captured by the Snake Women of Midwich. Doris is then kidnapped by Rei and brought to the Count. Using his vampiric powers, D kills the Snake Women, rescues Doris before she can be killed by Lamika, and escapes the castle.

In town, Greco overhears a meeting between Rei and a messenger from Count Lee, who gives the former a candle with Time-Bewitching Incense, a substance powerful enough to weaken anyone with vampire blood in their veins. Dan is taken hostage by Rei to lure D out into the open, and D comes to his rescue, cutting off Rei's hand in the process and discovering that the candle is a fake. Meanwhile, Dr. Feringo, himself a vampire in league with Count Lee, leads Doris into a trap but is confronted and killed by Lamika when he begins requesting to share Doris with the Count. Greco, who stole the candle from Rei then appears; using the Time-Bewitching Incense to severely weaken Lamika and causes Doris pain (likely due to her own infection), but is shot at by Dan and falls down a cliff. Afterwards, Doris, who has by now fallen for D, tries to convince him to live with her and embraces him. This starts to trigger D's vampire side, but, unwilling to bite her, he forces her away from him.

The next morning, Greco is confronted and killed by Rei, who uses the real candle to weaken D, allowing him to mortally wound the vampire hunter with a wooden stake. Doris is then captured and taken back to the castle. Lamika tries to persuade her father not to allow a human into the family, but Lee reveals that there is no harm in doing so, as Lamika's own mother was a human - making her a dhampir instead of a full-blooded vampire and Lamika is restrained by Count Lee when she becomes hysterical at the revelation. Rei requests that the Count give him eternal life as a member of the Nobility, but he is coldly rebuffed for his past failures leaving Rei in a rage.

As a mutant attempts to devour D's comatose body, his Left Hand revives him just in time for him to kill the monster. As the processional for the Count and Doris’ wedding takes place, Dan, having infiltrated the Count's castle, attempts to attack Lee, but is repelled by Lee and falls into a chasm before being saved by Rei who has switched sides. In retaliation for not fulfilling his request, Rei confronts and attempts to weaken the Count with the Time-Bewitching Incense. However, Lee, who is too powerful to be over powered by the Incense, destroys the candle with his telekinetic abilities then kills Rei with the same powers. Before Doris can be bitten by the Count, D appears and engages in battle with Lee. D's attacks are futile due to Lee's psychic and telekinetic abilities and almost kills D before D unleashes his own telekinetic abilities and breaks from Lee's telekinetic hold and succeeds in fatally stabbing the Noble in the heart with his sword while Lee manages to seriously wound D with a dagger. A weakened Lee attempts to influence Doris into killing D, but she is broken out of the trance by Dan, who arrives with Lamika. With Lee dying, his castle begins crumbling, and Lee, while lamenting his defeat and looking at a picture of the first Vampire Count Dracula, notices D is Count Dracula's child and therefore the son of the legendary Ancestral God of Vampires to both Lee's and Lamika's astonishment. D attempts to persuade Lamika into living as a human, but she chooses to die as a member of the Nobility with her father and stays in the castle as it collapses, killing both Lee and then Lamika off screen.

D, Doris and Dan escape the collapsing castle. D then sets off under a now clear blue sky. Doris, now recovered from her bite, and Dan, bid D goodbye as he looks back briefly to them and smiles.

Voice castEdit

Character Japanese voice actor English dubbing actor
(Streamline, 1992)[3]
English dubbing actor
(Toho/Seraphim/Sentai, 2015)[4]
D Kaneto Shiozawa Michael McConnohie John Gremillion
Doris Lang Michie Tomizawa Barbara Goodson Luci Christian
Count Magnus Lee Seizō Katō Jeff Winkless David Wald
Dan Lang Keiko Toda Lara Cody Shannon Emerick
Greco Roman Yūsaku Yara Steve Bulen Jay Hickman
Countess Lamika Lee Satoko Kitō Edie Mirman Brittney Karbowski
Rei Ginsei Kazuyuki Sogabe Kerrigan Mahan Andy McAvin
D's Left Hand Ichirō Nagai Michael McConnohie
Dr. Feringo/Dr. Fehring Motomu Kiyokawa Steve Kramer John Swasey
Mayor Roman Yasuo Muramatsu Tom Wyner David Wald
Sheriff Danton/Sheriff Dalton Kan Tokumaru Kirk Thornton Mark Laskowski
The Three Sisters/
Snake Women of Midwich
Kazuko Yanaga
Yoshiko Sakakibara
Joyce Kurtz Tiffany Grant


Vampire Hunter D is credited as one of the earliest anime productions targeted explicitly at the male teenager/adult demographic in lieu of family audiences, and capitalized on the emerging OVA market due to its violent content and influence from European horror mythology (such as the films of British film studio Hammer Film Productions). The film's limited budget made its technical quality comparable to most anime television series and other OVAs, but not with most theatrical animated films.[5]

During the film's production, director Toyoo Ashida stated that his intention for the film was to create an OVA that people who had been tired from studying or working hard would enjoy watching, instead of watching something that would make them "feel even more tired".[6][7]

Yoshitaka Amano, the illustrator of the original novels, acted as character designer for the OVA. However, alternative designs were provided by Ashida (who also acted as the film's animation director), and elements from both artists’ works were combined to create final designs by the animators.[6] Acclaimed pop artist Tetsuya Komuro was responsible for the film's soundtrack, and also performed the film's ending theme, 'Your Song', with his fellow members of TM Network.

Vampire Hunter D was the first of several film adaptations (both live-action and animated) of Hideyuki Kikuchi's works. Several of these (Wicked City, Demon City Shinjuku and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust) were directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri of Madhouse.


Vampire Hunter D was released on theatrically on December 21, 1985 where it was distributed by Toho.[1] A laserdisc by CBS Sony Group Inc. was released on the same date.[8][need quotation to verify] An English-language version of the OVA was produced in 1992 by Streamline Pictures, and was shown on the fine-arts theatrical circuit in the US in August 1992.[1] The Streamline dub was then released on VHS on March 26, 1993.[citation needed] This initial release was followed by a re-release on VHS by Streamline's parent company, Orion Pictures, and a laserdisc release by Lumivison.[9] The film was also shown several times on American television during the 1990s, including on TBS, Cartoon Network and the Sci-Fi Channel. Vampire Hunter D is considered a flagship title for Streamline, and was marketed in the US as ‘the first animated horror film for adults.’[10]

In 2000, Urban Vision Entertainment, the US production partner and distributor of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, re-released the OVA on a ‘Special Edition’ bilingual DVD on October 17 containing the original Japanese audio and a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix of the Streamline dub, as well as releasing dubbed and subtitled versions of the film on VHS.[citation needed] The Special Edition DVD release was duplicated by Manga Entertainment for a UK release on July 5, 2004, as well as by Madman Entertainment in Australia on August 31, 2005.[11] Madman's reissued their Special Edition DVD on July 23, 2014.[12]

On April 16, 2015, Sentai Filmworks announced their license to the film in North America for digital and home video release.[13] The film was released on August 25, 2015 on Blu-ray and DVD with a new English dub.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Galbraith IV 2008, p. 346.
  2. ^ "Vampire Hunter D". MusicBrainz. Retrieved 28 February 2017.
  3. ^ "Vampire Hunter D (OVA)". Crystalacids. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Official Vampire Hunter D English Dub Cast List". Sentai Filmworks. July 27, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  5. ^ Fred Patten (December 2000). "Vampire Hunter D: The Next Anime Hit in America?". Animation World Magazine. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  6. ^ a b The Making of Vampire Hunter D (DVD). Madman Entertainment. August 31, 2005.
  7. ^ Toyoo Ashida (director), Hideyuki Kikuchi (original work) (August 31, 2005). Vampire Hunter D - Special Edition (DVD). Madman Entertainment. Event occurs at 44 minutes, 3 seconds.
  8. ^ Toyoo Ashida (director), Hideyuki Kikuchi (original work). Vampire Hunter D (Laserdisc). CBS Sony Group Inc.
  9. ^ Toyoo Ashida (director), Hideyuki Kikuchi (original work). Vampire Hunter D (Laserdisc). Lumivison.
  10. ^ Toyoo Ashida (director), Hideyuki Kikuchi (original work). Vampire Hunter D (VHS). Orion Pictures.
  11. ^ "Vampire Hunter D - The Long Awaited Prequel to Bloodlust!". Madman Entertainment. 2005. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  12. ^ "Vampire Hunter D - The Movie (1985)". Madman Entertainment. 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  13. ^ "Sentai Filmworks Licenses Vampire Hunter D Film". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2015-04-16.


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