Vampire Hunter D 2000/Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust info file

Info File:
Vampire Hunter D 2000/Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

This file was originally posted 25 February 2002.

The unsual circumstances surrounding the creation and release of Vampire Hunter D (2000), aka Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, have led to lively discussion, some of it based on incomplete, misleading, or misinterpreted information. The following chronology and responses are derived from the best information I have had available for roughly the past two years. Although I have drawn on numerous sources, including Urban Vision Entertainment Web sites (the Urban Vision site and the offical VHD:B site), my most important source for specifically Japanese material has been Kevin Leahy, a bilingual resident of Japan who attends Hideyuki Kikuchi's Talk Live get-togethers (held several times a year) and is translating Mr. Kikuchi's VHD novels into English. Kevin posts information to the Vampire Hunter D discussion list on Yahoogroups. Urban Vision's Rhona Medina has also been more than helpful regarding the U.S. side of production.

Vampire Hunter D (2000), released in the USA as Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, is based on the novel D—Yousatsukou by Hideyuki Kikuchi, the third in a series of novels about Vampire Hunter D. The script was written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, whose primary language is Japanese. The character designer is Yutaka Minowa, who was inspired by the work of Yoshitaka Amano.

Mr. Kawajiri decided early on that he wanted VHD2000 released — at least to theaters — with English-language dialogue. There was some doubt about whether this would in fact occur for the Japanese release.

Mr. Kawajiri's script was translated by Mary Yamamoto and adapted for the English-language dub by Ellen Moore and Jack Fletcher. (These are the official credits for the final Urban Vision cut.) The sound, including dialogue, was recorded in the USA under the supervision of Urban Vision Entertainment, which owns North American rights to VHD. Much of the English-language dialogue was recorded before production of the movie was complete. There was good communication between Mr. Kawajiri and dialogue director Jack Fletcher regarding the script and voice actors. A preliminary version of the movie was completed before the end of 1999.

VHD2000 had its official world premiere at the Yuubari Fantasy Film Festival in Hokkaido in early 2000. (A few private screenings were held before that, and Hideyuki Kikuchi showed excerpts from the work in progress to Talk Live attendees as early as September 1999.) The movie subsequently received a number of limited screenings. Urban Vision always emphasized that the version shown at these screenings was a work in progress: dialogue and even voice actors might be changed for the final cut. A non-final version was still being shown as late as December 2000, when Asahi Sonorama (publisher of the VHD novels) celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Japanese-language dialogue for the movie was recorded January 25, 28, and 29, 2001, under Mr. Kawajiri's supervision. (Source: Kyuuketsuki Hantaa D Doku Hon, pages 100-104.) Hideyuki Kikuchi was present for some of the recording and wrote about his experience at the end of his then-in-progress VHD novel, D—Jaoh Seidan, part 3.

Around the same time — probably March 2001 — Mr. Kawajiri flew to California to supervise tweaking of the English-language dialogue for the final cut of his movie. Notable changes from the earlier version included the restoration of warnings from D's left hand about D's susceptibility to sunlight, and mention that "the Vampire King" was D's father. There were numerous minor changes (about 50, all told) as well. These were changes to dialogue only, not animation.

The movie had its official release in Japan in April 2001. Dialogue was in English, with Japanese subtitles. The offical North American theatrical premiere was in August 2001, also with English-language dialogue.

The movie was released for rental — not home sale — in Japan in October 2001. Both English-language and Japanese-language dubs were available on VHS. A Japanese (Region 2) DVD was released in December 2001. It had English-language dialogue only; no Japanese dialogue. The DVD included a "making of" feature and was packaged with a color booklet. The Japanese-language version was released on DVD in Japan in June 2002.

Urban Vision released VHD:B on DVD and VHS in North America on February 12, 2002. This American release does not include a Japanese-language track. Urban Vision has made no announcement of plans to release a version with a Japanese-language track and English subtitles. (Madman in Australia encountered technical difficulties and was forced to scrap plans to release a version with a Japanese-language track and English subtitles in November 2002.)

Responses to a few conceptions and misconceptions

English is the original languge of VHD:B: Yes, in the sense that Mr. Kawajiri had it in mind all along, and in the sense that the English-language dialogue was recorded first. It is also (and I think more importantly) the final language, in that Mr. Kawajiri reviewed the English translation and made changes to the English-language dub as he saw fit. However, the script started its life in Japanese, and the movie itself was made with the knowledge it would be viewed by Japanese as well as English-speaking audiences. Mr. Kawajiri supervised the recording of the Japanese-language version. Highlights of differences in dialogue between the two are listed here.

VHD:B was animated for English-language dialogue: Not as animation normally is in America, with the soundtrack completed first and animation synched to it. The animation was completed before the final (tweaked) English-language dialogue was recorded, so it was not synched to all dialogue. However, Mr. Kawajiri did plan for it to be heard in English even before the script had been translated into English.

VHD:B has a European setting: Unknown. The Vampire Hunter D novels don't indicate what part of the world they're set in — the world of 10,000 years in the future no longer has the same political divisions, and there may have been significant geographical changes as well. VHD:B includes a scene set amid what appear to be the remains of the Very Large Array radio telescopes near Socorro, New Mexico, and Carmila writes a note in German. Some names in VHD:B sound French: the Grenerge Mountain Range, Lake Chiffon, and arguably Barbarois (silent final s, as in aprés or gras). However, we have no way of knowing what structures like the VLA may have been constructed in other locales between our time and the distant future, nor what languages may be in use in any parts of the world. The novels state that vampire nobility liked to construct their castles in Gothic style.

D is a dunpeal: In the Japanese novels the word is "danpiru" (pronounced "dampiru"), which is what the word "dhampir" becomes when transliterated into Japanese. ("Dhampir" is a bona fide word for the offspring of a vampire and a human.) When "danpiru" is transliterated out of Japanese by someone unfamiliar with the word "dhampir," it can become "dampiel" "danpeal," "dunpeal," or any number of other things. As far as I know, Mr. Kikuchi approved the transliteration "dunpeal" for the VHD video game and VHD:B.

Of course, this does not mean that "dunpeal" was the best choice. In the English-language novel translations, Kevin Leahy uses the transliteration "dhampir" with Mr. Kikuchi's knowledge and consent. See also my mini-rant on the transliterations page.

VHD2000 is based on a manga: When the movie was made, there were no VHD manga. It is based on the third novel in a series. The first VHD manga, based on the first VHD novel, was published in late 2007.

VHD2000 is closely based on Hideyuki Kikuchi's novel: There are a great many differences between D—Yousatsukou (D—Demon Deathchase) and VHD2000/VHD:B. In the novel, the Markus siblings are a much nastier group (and Leila is actually a Markus sibling), and no character like Carmila is included. "The girl" who runs off with the vampire ("Meierlink" in the book) does not have a name. ("Meierlink" is the Japanese rendering of Mayerling; Mr. Kikuchi named his character for a place in Austria famous mostly for the death of Crown Prince Rudolph.) In making VHD2000, Mr. Kawajiri also used ideas from other works in the VHD oeuvre: the cyborg horses chopped off at the knees (and hocks) is a scene inspired by Rei-Ginsei's exploits in the first VHD novel; the self-camouflaging resting house evidently reflects a setting of D—Souei no Kishi (D—Twin-Shadowed Knight, the tenth novel in the series); the kneeling woman who appears to D in Carmila's castle reflects a foe's attempts to distract D with the image of D's mother in the short story "D—Armageddon."

VHD2000 is a remake of VHD1985: No. They are based on different novels and have completely different characters and plots. VHD1985 was based on the first VHD novel, Kyuuketsuki Hantaa D (Vampire Hunter D).

VHD2000 is a sequel to VHD1985: Not in the usual sense of the word. Both movies are set in the same universe, but the second movie is not derived from or dependent on any elements of the first. The only characters appearing in both are D and the notorious Left Hand.

Yoshitaka Amano designed the characters for VHD2000: Character designer Yutaka Minowa started with Mr. Amano's designs and turned out characters much less cartoony than those produced by Indri Goya for the 1985 anime. I don't know exactly what materials Mr. Minowa was inspired by for designing characters. Meier, "the girl," and Borgoff and Leila Markus are all depicted in the third book; Meier, Charlotte, and Borgoff bear at least some resemblance to their depictions in that source (compare Charlotte's braids to those of "the girl" on the cover of the novel). Most publicity images that I've seen for the movie are not Mr. Amano's work; they may be Mr. Minowa's.

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