Review: Vampire Hunter D - Vol. 20: Scenes From an Unholy War

This has been my first foray into the world of Vampire Hunter D; a world that I have discovered is quite extensive covering many volumes of work in a novel and multimedia format.  It has been around for a while. This is quite a large amount of work to say the least. Within these many works, we have an expansive universe covering a post-apocalyptic view of the earth, thousands of years after the fact that is inhabited by vampires, demons, humans, and all kinds of hybrids in between. Our hero, D is one such hybrid, the mixture of a powerful vampire and a human.  Called a “dhampir”, D can be described as an unassuming “pretty boy” going through a harsh and cruel world and kicking a lot of ass in the process as he is often underestimated by his opponents.  He enjoys the strengths and weaknesses of his lineages and this figures in very prominently to the story that I read here.

During the reading of Scenes, a village has hired several mercenaries to help eliminate a menacing threat called The Black Death that never comes, so they are dismissed.  While being dismissed, D is stricken with a bad bout of “Sun Syndrome” rendering him useless and under the control of his symbiotic Left Hand, appropriately called “Left Hand”.  As D is recovering, Black Death decides to make an appearance after all. This Volume chronicles that story and the inevitable battle.

Vampire Hunter D Vol. 20 CoverFirst things first, this book is called a graphic novel, but it really is just a novel, 200 plus pages of novel to be exact with some limited artwork provided.  This is not your typical comic book fare, so if you are looking to be wowed with lots of artwork to coincide with the story, you might want to look somewhere else. Secondly, this is volume #20 of a long running series, so if you are purchasing it, more than likely you are well into to the world of D. As a first time reader, you might wish to start from the beginning and go from there before you get to here.

Still, as a standalone novel, I found Scenes to be readable and not too confusing to understand. The translation flows smoothly and doesn’t seem to get lost anywhere.  This way distant future land is a creepy place that is dark and foreboding, not just for humans, but for everyone. It’s a rough place and D who is a very soft-spoken, “cards close to the chest” kind of guy, is in bad shape for much of the book. Lucky for him, he has Left Hand to take over and run things. In Left hand, I found a fun and frisky characterization that blended well with the quiet and reserved D. These two make for a funky and futuristic odd couple that play well through the reading of the pages. I actually felt it to be kind of fun in an otherwise serious book.

The artistic renderings by Yoshitaka Amano, though few, are very impressive portraying D as a “dark” character with intensity.  I would have loved to  have seen more artwork and reading this book has made me curious to explore this world of D a little more.  There is nothing too terribly bad I can say about it. I found the high future science fiction blended in with an old west feel and dark fairy tale tone to be of an interesting touch.

Apparently, Writer Hideyuki Kikuchi is well revered for his work and has a large following. After experiencing this volume, I can see why he gets so many props from people. In D, he has created an extensive and impressive world in which one can get lost within and stay for some time. That is the kind of writing that makes a novel good. But, I would certainly look for other volumes if I was wanting to explore this world for the first time.

Score: 3/5

Writer: Hideyuki Kukuchi Artist: Yoshitaka Amano Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $11.99 Release Date: 12/11/13