Vampire Hunter D, Vol. 3: Demon Deathchase
Written by Hideyuki Kikuchi, Art by Yoshitaka Amano, Translated by Kevin Leahy
Dark Horse/DMP, 216 pp.
Rating: Mature (18 +)
The third volume of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s epic series, Vampire Hunter D: Demon Deatchase, gives us what is quite possibly the most well known Vampire Hunter D tale of all thanks to a fantastic anime adaption in the form of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. D and rival group of hunters known as the Marcus clan find themselves at odds as they both take the same job, retrieve a kidnapped human from her vampiric abductor and return her to her family. The three groups clash as they speed across a wasteland inhabited by rusting robots, flesh eating insects, towns of supernatural threats and more.
If the introduction didn’t make it clear, this is essentially a chase story. There’s little mystery to be solved and virtually no webs of intrigue to unravel. That’s not to say the story is without it’s twists or turns. Revelations of the Marcus clan, some tantalizing hints as to the true nature of D’s left hand and more abound. It’s just that plot itself is as straight forward as can be rather than hinging on things such as the grand, labyrinthine mysteries as with the previous volume. In addition to this the race like nature of the story lends itself more to Kikuchi’s insane action scenes and random bits of world building rather than focusing on fleshing out a single area and it’s environs. As with all of Kikuchi’s novels this maintains a certain weird fiction feel to it. This is represented in certain turns of purple prose which echoes some of the weird fiction writers from 20th century America, and in it’s handling of sex and gender. Namely, men are men and women, even tough women, are generally weak and in need of rescuing and protection. Leila, the youngest of the Marcus siblings, bears the brunt of this theme though she’s strangely able to maintain a certain sense of independence and strength that previous female characters, particularly Doris, lost in the face of D’s incredible manliness.
Amano’s artwork is pretty sparse in this volume, with a only handful of his illustrations appearing. Oddly enough they’re not used to depict or introduce the various cast members either, instead focusing on D and brief moments of action. They’re still lovely though, but that’s to be expected, I just would have liked to have seen his rendition of all of the Marcus clan and the rest of the supporting cast. Meanwhile Leahy’s translation reads pretty well and the prose generally feels light and simple making it a quick and easy read which fits the novels content.
While Vampire Hunter D, vol. 3: Demon Deathchase is pretty straight forward and surprisingly short, it’s no less enjoyable than either of the preceding novels. It’s a solid addition to the franchise and, after reading the novel, I can see why it would be chosen for an anime adaption. Quite a fun little read.