Reviews are copyright ©Kevin Leahy.
All other material is copyright ©Catherine B. Krusberg. 
This material may not be reproduced without permission of the creator.

Volume 12: D -- Jaoh Seidan (D -- Star Squad of the Evil Overlord) 
  4 parts, 2000-2001
   Part 1 July 2000; ISBN 4-257-76909-2
   Part 2 November 2000; ISBN 4-257-76915-7
   Part 3 February 2001; ISBN 4-257-76927-0
   Part 4 April 2001; ISBN 4-257-76932-7

In what's a rare move for the "Vampire Hunter" series, "Jaoh Seidan" picks 
up shortly after the "Dark Road" series ends and carries over the character 
of the vicious vampire warlord Gaskell. The story begins with D squaring 
off against Count Brohj, a ten foot tall vampiric Nobleman who has sat in 
the same spot for 5001 years. D has been hired to dispatch him because the 
Capital wants to claim his treasure, and the two are just about to throw 
down when something crashes back to earth, destroying half the northern 
Frontier in the process. 

This is what Brohj has waited long millenia for--the return of the renegade 
vampire Lawrence Valcua from his exile to outer space. Valcua is also known 
as "the Ultimate Noble," and he wields a mystic sword named Glencaliber that 
can open or close the fabric of space with a single slash. But despite 
being the hero who led the Nobility's attack against the alien homeworld 
when the O.S.B (outer-space beings) tried to take Earth from the vampires, 
he eventually earned him the wrath of others of his kind, including the 
Sacred Ancestor. When he was exiled to outer space, Valcua took his entire 
kingdom with him, and swore that when the time was right they would be back 
to have their revenge. 

But Brohj has been waiting for more than just a fight with a skilled 
opponent. There's a promise he must keep. Back in the days when the other 
Nobility were trying to overcome Valcua, they found him a very worthy foe, 
indeed. The warlord Gaskell, Count Brohj, and Duke Harness were traveling 
to their showdown with him when they found a human by the side of the road. 
A former prisoner who'd been kept in the Ultimate Noble's castle for 
experimentation, something about him moved Brohj to give him some medicine, 
and the man swore he'd repay that kindness. The vampires laughed and told 
the human he should accompany them to the castle then, and gave him no more 
thought. But after Harness was slain and both Brohj and Gaskell were ready 
to fall to Valcua, the man appeared on the scene and saved the pair by 
knocking the Ultimate Noble back with a cross he fashioned from two swords, 
allowing them to escape. The grateful vampires were prepared to grant him 
any request, but knowing that someday Valcua would return and have his 
revenge on all those responsible for his defeat, he only asked that his 
descendants be protected from the horrible wrath that would eventually come. 
That man's name was Winslow Dialith. 

Now Adele Dialith lives in the village of Somui with her teenage children 
Matthew and Sue and a good-for-nothing drunk of a husband. Brohj and 
Duchess Miranda, the widow of Harness, rush to protect the Dialith family 
from certain retribution. But seven of Valcua's powerful henchmen have 
already been sent to settle some long overdue accounts. Among the 
superhuman fiends there's a female water sprite named Lucian who can appear 
wherever there's water, a web-spinning mutant from the lunar colonies by the 
name of Spi'ine, the mesmerizing traveling preacher Kulbe, the ax-wielding 
Giuseppe the Beheader, and a young giant named Sula. D has agreed to 
postpone his business with Brohj until he's had a chance to honor his 
agreement, and Mrs. Dialith is also clever enough to enlist the Vampire 
Hunter's protection for her children. 

And so an unlikely party of humans, vampires, and a dhampir set off across 
country on a thousand page adventure. There are a lot of really neat 
touches, such as when D goes to a poison-producing village to ask one of the 
craftsmen to make Time-Bewitching Incense for him, so that the vampires can 
meet their opponents by day. Valcua himself is also quite interesting--he 
can do things and go places that should be impossible for anyone not of the 
Sacred Ancestor's bloodline. And then there's the strange silvery figure 
who sometimes wears D's face, while at other times he has the face of 
Valcua. Finally, this story introduced the "Akashia Record," which contains 
all events that ever happened, or will ever happen. It is said that some 
people, such as Nostradamus, based their predictions off glimpses of the 
Record, and that the Sacred Ancestor has also seen it, but any creature that 
attempts to tamper with it will be erased from existence. 

As always, there's plenty to see and do in the world Kikuchi-sensei has 
crafted for us, as well as things to think about when the journey's done. 
Following this long haul, the author turned back to shorter, simpler tales 
about the Vampire Hunter, which was also a nice change. 

Volume 13: D -- Jajin Toride (D -- Fortress of the Elder God)
  December 2001. ISBN 4-257-76952-1 

Before I launch headlong into recounting the action in the first 
single-volume tale the VHD series has seen since 1994's "Baraki," I thought 
I might explain a little about the significance of the title. In Japanese, 
the works of H.P. Lovecraft are extremely popular, and "jajin" is the term 
most writers use to cover the whole Cthulu mythos--so while a direct 
translation would be "evil god," for Japanese horror fans (Kikuchi-sensei 
included), the word itself carries a heavy connotation of inhuman deities 
from beyond our own dimension.

The story begins in the true tradition of an Irwin Allen disaster flick--a 
nun delivers a mysterious orphan named Toto to a futuristic airport, where 
we meet the rest of the passengers who will accompany him on the flight to 
the Capital. There's the old married couple of Mr. And Mrs. Stow who left 
the center of known civilization to travel around the Frontier visiting 
their fully grown children. In rather sharp contrast to these normal folks 
is Jan, a petty gangster with a crescent scar on his face and a machete 
he'll pull at the drop on a hat, and Maria, a blonde boozer. A pair of cops 
called Wiseman and Goseau will also be onboard, along with the "suckling" 
they're escorting--a hooded prisoner who's felt the bite of the Nobility. 
And in the part of the obligatory wildcard there's Bierce, an arrow-hurling 
warrior who's past his prime. 

When the group's aircraft is ravaged by an unknown force and goes down in 
the middle of a deadly zone strangely nicknamed "the playground," the 
passengers know that nearly all hope is lost--no search party would ever 
venture into the area, they're hundreds of miles from anywhere, and strange 
beasts are beginning to close in on them. Luckily for them D happens to be 
riding by, and being the big softy that he is, he agrees to be their guard 
at Toto's request --but only after he's taken care of business at a strange 
fortress in the area. Given the choice of waiting there alone or traveling 
along with the Hunter on his perilous errand, the party chooses the latter. 

The fortress is question has a chilling history. Thousands of years 
earlier, the Sacred Ancestor's army laid siege to it, because the Nobles 
there had taken to worshipping a tentacled "god" named Kururu. Vampires, it 
seems, don't have much of a knack for taking their own lives, so they wanted 
this dark god to destroy the whole world, themselves included. Three 
hundred believers in the fortress were able to hold out against 30,000 
attackers for thirteen months due to their great faith and the power their 
"god" gave them. That same number of troops was killed in a single day, 
with only Arch Duke Valcua (from "Jaoh Seidan") surviving the incident. 
Finally, the Sacred Ancestor alone made it through the doors and came out a 
year later--apparently so exhausted that he slept for the next century. But 
no one has been inside in the last 5000 years. 

Once D arrives, the fortress goes back into operation, and another of the 
Sacred Ancestor's armies--at least 30,000 troops who were tucked away in 
another dimension waiting for such an occurrence--shows up to lay siege 
again. The army is hell-bent on getting into the fortress and destroying 
everyone inside, which is bad news for D and the stranded travelers since 
they've taken shelter in it. But they have more than the enemy at the walls 
to worry about, as a voice speaks to many of them and promises tremendous 
power in exchange for following its secretive instructions. 

It was nice to see another single-volume VHD tale, since they used to be 
the rule instead of the exception. I probably would have had more 
reservations about getting into the Vampire Hunter series both as a reader 
and a translator if the 750-1000 page monstrosities had come out in the 
early 90's. And now that I've finally caught up with all the books in the 
series, I don't want to be stuck in the same boat with the Japanese fans, 
waiting 9 months for the next installment or a year in a half for the whole 
story to be written. Over the past couple of stories, I've also noticed an 
interesting development in the way characters like Gaskell and Valcua have 
been carried over--we see that even the vilest of the vampires have been 
both heroes and villains in the eyes of the Nobility. It fits in well with 
the shades of gray Kikuchi-sensei had already established in this 
universe--not all humans are good, not all vampires are bad, and those that 
are bad might not always have been so. I can't wait to see what happens 

Volume 14: D -- Youhei Kaido (D -- Highway of the Enchanted Troops) 
  2003. ISBN 4-257-76994-7 

Just when I was thinking that last year's single-volume tale, "Jajin Toride," 
was merely a brief departure from the multi-volume epics that have dominated 
the Vampire Hunter series in recent years, here we have another story that 
wraps itself up in just one book. When Hideyuki Kikuchi was still working 
on this tale last fall, he had told me that it would be finished in a single 
volume, albeit a hefty one, but I took that with a grain of salt--when he 
intends to write one volume about D, he usually writes two, and when he 
thinks he'll need two volumes, he ends up taking four. Well, true to his 
word, the author delivered a tale complete in one volume, and weighing in at 
a respectable 289 pages. 

The action begins on a lazy day in Bosage, one of the Frontier's more 
prosperous towns. A ruthless quartet robs the local bank, slaughtering 
everyone present--and the chilling account of their actions is given by the 
first guard slain! His spirit has been channeled to explain that one of the 
four bank robbers is possessed by something that the guard fears even 
beyond the grave. The mayor of Bosage is trying to hire a pair of skilled 
warriors--a flamboyantly dressed man named Strider and a woman in 
dragon-scale armor by the name of Stanza--to go down the "Florence 
Highway" after the bank robbers, as well as to rescue people from the 
surrounding area from another threat. 

It seems that a mysterious army once covered the road to Grand Duke 
Dolreack's castle, so that the "Florence Highway" is also known as the 
"Highway of the Enchanted Troops." And now reports have filtered into town 
that the enchanted troops are back, threatening everyone in the area. The 
mayor needs someone to go to the now-abandoned castle and rescue any 
humans who might have taken shelter there, since the castle is a kind of holy 
ground for the troops and should keep them at bay. He's just about to pay 
Strider and Stanza twice as much as he originally bargained for when a 
traveler in black rides into town--and you know from the cover art that 
we're not talking about Johnny Cash! With D around, the two warriors will be 
lucky if they can get in on the job now at half the going rate, but the mayor 
didn't make his town rich by being stupid. He wants the added insurance of 
having the warriors go with the Vampire Hunter, whether any of the three 
likes it or not. 

When he's not being pestered by either of the warriors, D is visited by a 
rather rotund and hirsute man with the unlikely appellation of "Beatrice." 
A decade earlier, Beatrice was part of a group of Hunters who ventured into 
Dolreack's castle, and he barely made it out alive. Although he no longer 
remembers what happened inside, he does have a notebook full of things he 
wrote in his delirium shortly after escaping the former lair of the Nobility, 
and he thinks this may be of interest to D. 

While D and his companions are out battling their way through the rapidly 
growing forces--soldiers dressed in ash-gray military apparel who are 
roughly human except for their glassy green eyes and lipless slash of a 
mouth--they rescue a girl named Elene Slocum, then encounter the 
bank robbers. While all of these humans are essentially baggage to the 
Vampire Hunter, they end up traveling together anyway. As they make 
their way to the castle, they try to discover who has brought the 
enchanted troops back, and for what purpose. 

This book has all the ingredients for a slam-bang VHD tale--Hunters, 
warriors, soldiers, scumbags, vampires, and the odd human everyman 
caught in the middle. The end in particular was great, which makes it 
all the harder knowing that it may be another year before we see 
another novel in the Vampire Hunter series. 

Volume 15: D -- Masenshou (D -- Account of the Demon Battle)
  July 2003. ISBN 4-257-77014-7 

The story begins by describing a pair D has seen several times in his 
travels--a woman and a man, always together, always on the road. Cut to a 
village called Genevez (the "z" is silent) on the western edge of the 
Frontier, where D encounters the pair for a third time. The man, named 
Rust, is the sheriff there, and the woman, Lira, assists him in his duties. 
D is among the warriors and mercenaries summoned to defend the village from 
a notorious bandit gang known as the Black Death. But now it appears the 
Black Death won't be descending on the village, and the mayor wants to 
dismiss the hired help at a fraction of their agreed wages. The deputy 
mayor, Odama, wants to pay them even less, or kill the itinerant warriors so 
they won't join forces with the Black Death. D rewards Odama for his 
scathing character assessment by lopping off his nose. 

No sooner does D leave the scene of his improvised rhinoplasty than he's 
struck by "sunlight syndrome"--the periodic ailment unique to dhampirs last 
seen in "Demon Deathchase." Strangely enough, the staff of the local 
hotel have been taught what to do for a dhampir in these dire straits, so D 
is in good hands. But while D is recovering, and his left hand is running 
the show, Rust and Lira ask him to hang around a while longer and help them 
out. It seems the Black Death is going to pay a call on them after all. 

So what's so tough about this gang that a couple of well-traveled warriors 
like Rust and Lira would need D's help? Well, for starters the gang is led 
by a pseudo-vampire. Pseudo-vampires are humans who've been bitten by the 
genuine article but didn't change completely. They have some of the 
strength, enhanced senses, and regenerative powers of a true vampire, but 
can also walk in daylight. If the leader of the Black Death is any 
indication, they're also every bit as blood-thirsty as the real thing, if 
not more so. As if having a superhuman killing machine for a leader wasn't 
enough, the gang is also armed to the teeth with advanced weaponry like a 
tank and missile-launchers. And did I mention their penchant for sending 
spies into a village years before they attack? I hate it when that happens! 
One of the sleeper agents attacks D with poisonous bats while the Hunter is 
still recovering from his bout of sunlight syndrome, taking more of the wind 
out of our hero's sails. 

In a scene that's more like a Tom Clancy covert op than something you'd 
expect to see in the VHD universe, D leads a trio of mercenaries on a daring 
night strike on the Black Death encampment. They succeed in destroying many 
of the more imposing armaments and butcher a good number of the bandits, but 
in the process D's left hand (which was off on a mission of its own) gets 
chopped in half. So now the Hunter's hand has its healing energy turned 
toward putting itself back together. If only that was the extent of the bad 
news. The Black Death's leader turns the surviving members into 
pseudo-vampires like himself, but when even that doesn't seem like enough to 
beat the Vampire Hunter the voice of the Sacred Ancestor offers to make them 
true vampires. 

So, let's assess the situation. D hasn't completely recovered from 
sunlight syndrome, still has poison running through his system, and is 
without the use of his left hand. Okay, sounds fair enough. Now he's up 
against multiple vampires with a handful of villagers and mercenaries, some 
of whom can't be trusted. And the Sacred Ancestor is backing the other 
guys. All we need now is a serial killer running around the village... 
okay, got one of those, too! If you get the feeling this book grabs you by 
the collar and pimp-slaps you into submission, you're on the right track. I 
can hardly wait for the next novel, due out in December. If it's anything 
like the last two, it'll raise the bar once again on vampire hunting action. 

Volume 16: D -- Kettoufu 
  May 2004. ISBN 4-257-77024-4
  [No review yet.]

Volume 17: D -- Hakumasan
  Part 1 February 28, 2005
  Part 2 July 2005
  [No review yet.]

Notes from the VHD Archives site maintainer:

There are also a few short D works.

"D -- Armageddon" (or "D -- Harmageddon") is in Yoshitaka Amano's 
artbook MATEN and in THE CHASER, a collection of Hideyuki Kikuchi's 
short stories. A Japanese correspondent tells me it is a "scene" 
rather than a story and describes it as "D's father vs. D."

"D -- Portrait of Ixobel" appears in Yoshitaka Amano's artwork
collection KANOKE in both Japanese and English. (My review of KANOKE 
is here.)

"D -- Village in the Fog" appears in Yoshitaka Amano's Vampire 
Hunter D Art Book, in Japanese only. My review of this book 
appears elsewhere on this site.
The Kyuuketsuki Hantaa D doku hon (Asahi Sonorama, 2001; ISBN 4-257-03546-3) includes these three short stories. The doku hon is described on the Miscellaneous Merchandise page.
"Seshiru no Dengon" ("A Message from Cecil") is in the booklet that accompanies the five-CD Audio Drama Collection Vampire Hunter D, described on the Miscellaneous Merchandise page. Many thanks to Hakuba-san for providing information on later Vampire Hunter D novels and "D -- Armageddon"!

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