LotN Reviews: Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Lord of the Night reviews the epic Vampire Hunter D series by Hideyuki Kikuchi.
“Never before have supernatural action and tragedy been worked together so well. Truly a series for the ages.”
Hey everyone. I, the Lord of the Night, have returned from the eternal darkness that I reside in with a new book review for everyone. Granted I normally only review Black Library books but I would be remiss if I didn’t help give my favourite non-Warhammer series some attention. Plus it was fun writing this review, so enjoy all.
So I have penned a review for the Vampire Hunter D series by the Japanese author Hideyuki Kikuchi. This was one of the first books I ever read and I have been amazed with each new translation release through the years since then. So far thirteen D novels have been released in English translations while twenty-three novels are available in its native country of Japan, the most recent release D – Nightmare Village, being released only two days ago.
Kikuchi has created a very unique world for D. In the first novel’s second chapter a history for Earth is provided. At first it may seem like any normal post-apocalyptic series but it quickly takes on a life of its own with a supernatural take on the rebuilding of civilization and the fall that followed it. Vampires, or the Nobility as they are commonly called in the series, are known by all and feared by all while other beasts like werewolves, chimeras, gorgons and dragons stalk the lands hunting for any unlucky fool that dares walk in the night. One rule is clear throughout the series. Man lives in the day, while the monsters own the night.
The series follows the titular character, a vampire hunter known only as D as he travels across the Frontier hiring his services out to those willing to pay his exorbitant fees. As high as they may be the fees are worth it as no force will stop D from carrying out his missions. However the supernatural forces that D faces are all deadly and even rival hunters, powerful vampire lords and bio-engineered monsters cannot keep D from his secret quest.
The series itself is a fantastical mix of supernatural, fantasy, sci-fi, action and tragedy. Kikuchi works them all in his stories either in the unique world of D or in the stories, characters and the events of each novel. One thing that I really enjoy about this series is that it doesn’t just throw you a happy ending, often the endings are quite sad and filled with tragedy but they always provide a silver lining, you just have to look for it and its always such a good one that it can make the reader, and D, smile.
The only two permanent characters in the series are D and his eponymous Left Hand. D himself is a silent tragic figure who rarely speaks unless he has something prudent to say, and even then usually keeps it to himself. He is also a dhampir, which is a human/vampire hybrid, and is unique that he bears all the strengths of vampires and the absolute minimum of their weaknesses, however this is not just favouritism for a character but rather the result of his mysterious past. Characters like this are tough to write, they say too much and they aren’t the same while if they don’t say enough they are boring. Kikuchi avoids this by making everything that D says important and very cool.
The Left Hand is a foil for D, a parasite living within D’s left hand who provides not only some extra powers and support for D but acts as D’s second voice, giving his own opinion. Their relationship is a mystery as D seems to treat the Left Hand without much consideration yet clearly respects him and takes his advice into account, creating an odd yet likeable duo.
The action scenes are very unique as D is powerful beyond reasoning. Foes come left and right to fight D yet none have ever bested him. D’s extra amazing powers often save him in fights that nobody else would even stand a chance in, yet he is not portrayed as overly powerful. In fact D only fights when he has to and often disregards foes who pick a fight with him, only attacking when he feels they will not leave him alone. This may seem like the outcomes of fights are often decided before they begin, and quite often they are, but there are enemies that can match D and then some.
The series also boasts some very excellent artwork. For any fans of Final Fantasy you’ll appreciate it as the artist for the famed game series, Yoshitaka Amano, also draws for D and has created some exceptional artwork. Every so often in the books you’ll find an illustrated page that shows off a particularly great moment within the novel. D’s classic unearthly beauty is brought to life in many of these artworks, and many others are devoted to his monstrous enemies.
Overall I have no problems with giving this series a 10/10 for its imaginative world, fascinating characters, and the wealth of
stories that it boasts. Vampire Hunter D has a long way left to go, at twenty-three novels its not nearly enough and I hope that many more D novels will be released.
My only actual problem with the series is not with the series at all, its the schedule they release it. Usually two D novels are released per year, three at best. Normally this isn’t a problem but at the moment in the series a four-parter, D – Pale Fallen Angels, has been finished followed by a three-parter, D – Dark Road. Both of these novels have taken some time to be finished, being released in parts 1&2, followed by 3 and 3&4. Next up is D – Tyrant’s Stars, another four-parter but thankfully the last one for now. After that we can get back to regular single novel D releases.
To sum it up Vampire Hunter D is an excellent series and I encourage you prospective readers to buy it. The first novel is where you should start but after that you can read any of them, each novel is a different story and does not rely on the others to tell a story. My personal favourites are D – Stuff of Dreams and D – The Rose Princess, but they are all great. Next for me is D – Dark Road, and im eagerly looking forward to it.
Thanks for reading the review. Now its back to the eternal darkness of Old Night. And make sure to comment well, and if not…you won’t see me coming.
The Lord of the Night