365 Days of Manga, Day 120: Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Vampire Hunter D


HIDEYUKI KIKUCHI’S VAMPIRE HUNTER D (Vampire Hunter D) ??????????D) • Saiko Takaki (art), Hideyuki Kikuchi (original story) • DMP (2007-ongoing) • 3+ volumes (ongoing) • 18+ (language, graphic violence, nudity, sexual situations)
Commissioned by DMP from Japanese artist Takaki long after Kikuchi’s original Vampire Hunter D novels were released in Japan, Vampire Hunter D is an awkward, sometimes stylish mess. In the far future, after a nuclear apocalypse, vampires and werewolves are the nobility who lord it over hapless humans in a kind of pseudo-Western sci-fi setting (complete with robot horses). “D,” a tall, dark stranger with deep-set, heavy-lashed eyes, wanders the land using his vampire powers to fight on the side of good. Each volume follows the plot of one of Kikuchi’s books, more or less successfully condensing it into a single graphic novel. However, Takaki’s art is crowded and chaotic. Each page is full of clashing black and white values, excess lines, confusing camera transitions, and overapplied computer effects; the panels are too dense taken one at a time, and added together as a comic/manga, it’s barely readable. Given Takaki’s non-manga background (she worked in graphic design) it’s an unintentional argument for the often generic styles of mainstream manga. The best thing that can be said about it is that, at times, it conveys the equally histrionic nature of Kikuchi’s writing. (Also, the art improves slightly in later volumes, as Takaki’s drawings get simpler.)
Today’s winner is Matthew S. of Ohio. Congratulations, Matthew!
In other news, I’ve been working on making comics as well as reading ’em. King of RPGs, my thrill-packed graphic novel collaboration with awesome artist Victor Hao, is coming out from Del Rey Manga on January 19, and in celebration, we’ve started putting an excerpt from the story online on the King of RPGs website. New pages will go up on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for the foreseeable future (at least the next month or so). Please check it out and enjoy our mega-adventure of 20-sided dice, Mountain Dew and savage mayhem…!