This will require a few words of explanation for those of you unfamiliar with the Japanese language. Japanese is not English. (OK, you'd probably figured that out.) Not only does Japanese lack the "L" sound, the written language has an essential difference: it consists of syllables (really "mora") rather than individual letters.
Using one writing system to represent words originating in another is called "transliteration." Because of differences in the Japanese and English writing and phonetic systems, it is not always possible to render (transliterate) English-language words with precision using Japanese characters (usually katakana). Conversely, because English has more phonemes (sounds) and more ways of arranging them than Japanese, it is not always possible to determine the best way to transliterate to English a particular Japanese representation of a foreign word. For example, the phoneme "v" does not exist in Japanese; although it can be represented with kana, more often the "b" sound takes its place. Japanese syllables cannot end with "r" (or any consonant other than n); if it occurs after a or o, the letter r may be transformed to a longer version of the preceding vowel, or may simply disappear. Thus, "vampire" can be rendered "vanpaia" or "banpaia" in Japanese. (When "n" precedes a "p" sound in Japanese, it is pronounced "m.") Double vowels have longer duration, not a different sound, so "roodo" (in katakana) can be transliterated "road," "lord," "load," or even "roared." Fans of Vampire Princess Miyu may be aware of the problems that arise in dealing with "rabaa," who really is supposed to be "Larva." (Or whose name was at any rate inspired by that term.)
Not that long ago, Kevin Leahy was the only person who had attempted to render the names in Mr. Kikuchi's novels into English. I used his transliterations because there was no reason to seek others. Now, however, everybody is getting into the act. Jaleco has released an English-language version of the Playstation game that is related to the new VHD movie; the Urban Vision web site for Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust includes a list of characters, as does the Japanese theater pamphlet for the new movie. Various sites on the Net feature variant transliterations, particularly for the Playstation game.
I'd like to use the same spelling throughout this site; that will be the Urban Vision spelling, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise. However, since alternate spellings are out there, I'm giving a list of "strict" transliterations from Japanese, followed by official spellings and likely alternatives.
D. Thank goodness, the Latin alphabet character "D" is used. Yes, in Japanese.
Maieru rinku. Meier Link. Other possibilities include Maier Link, Meyer Link, Mayer Link. In the novel, it was one word, maierurinku. The form "Meierling" also appears in the movie.
Borugofu Maakasu. Borgoff Markus. Videogames.com calls him "Borgov." He has four siblings:
Guroobu. Grove. In the novel he was Guroobekku (Groveck, Grobeck), and I have seen a character design labeled with this form.
Shaarotto Erubaan. Charlotte Elbourne. Her last name could be transliterated Elborn, Elvarn, Elban, or variations on these. In the book, she didn't have a last name. In fact, she didn't have a name at all.
Karoriinu. Caroline. In the book she's a dhampir also known as "Bride" who can control machines with her bite.
Mashira. Mashira. I've also seen Machira and Macila. A werewolf. "Mashira" is an archaic Japanese word for monkey. (Thanks to Akiko for this information!)
Benge. Benge. Rhymes with "clingy" in English, but in Japanese it's pronounced Bengay, like the trade name.
Kaamira. Carmila. According to some character designs, her full name is Erizabesu Baatorii Kaamira, Elizabeth Bathory Carmila. She's not in the book that the movie is based on.
Cheite jou. The Castle of Chaythe. Cjesthe (pronounced "CHAY-tay" -- rhymes with "hey, hey") is the old form of this name. Cjesthe was the principal residence of the historical Elizabeth Bathory. The modern form of the name is Cachtice ("chahk-TEE-tsay").
baabaroi. Barbarois. A town where Meier seeks aid, or the monstrous inhabitants of that town. Caroline, Mashira, and Benge are all from Barbarois. Kevin Leahy has transliterated this as Balbaroy.
Mr. Kikuchi has preserved an old word very precisely for this
term: "Barbaroi" is the ancient Greek for "barbaric." It is etymologically
the source of that word: sophisticated ancient Greeks considered themselves
the only "civilized people" on earth and called all non-Greek people
"barbaroi," barbaric, since their languages all sounded like
gibberish or meaningless "bar-barr" sounds, and many of their slaves were
of those people. "I suppose that by using the Greek original form of the
word, Mr. Kikuchi wanted to convey the same idea: sophisticated and powerful
vampires considering all other demonic non-vampire creatures vile, and
Danpiru = dhampir
And then there is what D is. D is a dhampir. (This is a pet peeve of mine; I admit it.) You can spell it dhampire, dhampir, dhampyre, dhampyr, dampir, dampyr, or even dhamphir or dhamphyre (although those last two spellings make me wince). However you spell it, it is a real word for a vampire-human crossbreed, with roots in beliefs held in the Balkans (Central Europe; "Dracula country," if you like).
Unfortunately, far too many people think that Mr. Kikuchi made up the word "danpiru," which is what "dhampir" becomes when transliterated into Japanese. This is why D is called a "dampiel" in the Streamline dub of the original release and Urban Vision's subtitled re-release, a "danpeal" in Kan'oke, and a "dunpeal" in the Urban Vision dub of the new movie and Jaleco's release of the Playstation game. These would be unobjectionable transliterations of a made-up word, but they don't reflect Mr. Kikuchi's research and his knowledge of his subject. No matter what any official sources call D, he's going to be a dhampir or dhampire on this site.
Got a question on any of this? E-mail me.