Vampire Hunter D, Vol. 4: Tale of the Dead Town
Written by Hideyuki Kikuchi, Art by Yoshitaka Amano, Translated by Kevin Leahy
Dark Horse/DMP, 208 pp.
Rating: Mature (18 +)
The fourth volume of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Vampire Hunter D saga, Tale of the Dead Town, sees a return to a mystery formula of the second volume. This time around D is hired onto a massive, self contained, mobile town to investigate a vampire attack upon the mayors daughter.
D’s always a bit of a cipher in these stories. We’re almost never privy to his thoughts. He talks about himself and his past rarely, maintaining an appealing mysterious air about him the entire time. Because of this Kikuchi often spends more time fleshing out the supporting characters in the book, or at the very least he gives them more dialogue. In Tale of The Dead Town he unveils three of the series more interesting and entertaining supporting characters to date. John M. Braselli Pluto VIII, Lori Knight and Doctor Tsurugi. Pluto VIII is a very entertaining, very talkative foil to the silent and stoic D. His mouth almost never stops and there’s a certain charm to his character that I found hard to resist. Tsurugi, for his part, almost feels like a proto D and manages to interact with D on a level that few characters have before him. Much the same can be said for Lori, a character who begins in the book as a fairly typical damsel in distress but evolves into a surprisingly strong and capable figure in her own right. I can only hope that some of these characters make an appearance later in the series. The tale itself doesn’t quite hold up well under scrutiny. There are several major mysteries left unresolved, or at least are resolved in an unsatisfactory manner. That said Kikuchi does do a good job at crafting a tale about the dangers of living apart from the world and the potential stagnation and death of insular communities.
I’m not really sure what I can say about Amano’s artwork that millions of others haven’t already said, or that I haven’t already said in earlier reviews. It’s a treat, lovely to look at and does a fantastic job at conveying mood, atmosphere and the odd moment of action. The pieces are also few and far between, making each one a welcome surprise when you stumble across it. Leahy’s translation continues to be easy and smooth to read. This time around he doesn’t stop at the novel but also translates a Postcript from Kikuchi, an exclusive to the English language edition of this novel. Hearing Kikuchi talk a bit about his inspiration and influences is a pleasant treat and something I hope he continues to do in the later volumes.
While the story itself was a little tangled in places it was still a pretty enjoyable read in places. Pluto VIII often steals the show, though Tsurugi and Lori get some wonderful moments as well. In fact I think I’d be willing to read a short story about these two and can only hope they turn up again at some point in the future. All in all Tale of the Dead Town was another decent addition to the D saga.