October 26, 2009

Bento Bako Weekly: Anime/Manga Vampires, part 1


Sebastian has a special treat for you.

A special Halloween Bento Bako Weekly!  Well, it’s about a week early, but it’s in preparation!  As I was putting this together, I slowly watched it grow bigger and bigger… much larger than I had thought it would end up being.  So I decided to split it into two columns.  Today, just in time for Halloween, I’ll cover the best (or, better) titles, and next week we’ll look at the ones you’re better off not bothering with.  Of course, it should be noted that this split is all based on my own opinions.  Don’t ignore the next column just because you think, “Why would I want to read about manga/anime that sucks?”  Well, maybe I thought something was awful that you might actually be interested in.  One of the shows I really disliked happens to be loved by a friend of mine.  If the story sounds like something interesting to you, maybe you should check it out, regardless of what I think.  I should also note that a good chunk of these are shojo titles, meaning they’re romance stories, and don’t have lots of blood and gore (well… blood and vampires go hand-in-hand regardless, but most of these are not I’m-gonna-slice-off-your-limbs gory).  That’s the kind of thing you come across a lot when dealing with vampires.  Some of these are great.  More of them are so-so.  A few of them are down right awful.

I tried to round up the obvious, but to be honest, there are probably lots of other stories with vampires in them.  There are also other stories that aren’t strictly about vampires, but have slightly vampiric characters or blood sucking demons (like Gankutsuou and Black Bird).  So let’s start off with the best of the bunch!  Which, obviously, would be Hellsing.

bbw_hellsing_coverHellsing/Hellsing Ultimate: By Kouta Hirano.  You can’t get much better than this.  Sir Integral Hellsing (descended from Van Helsing) is the current leader of the Hellsing Organization, or the Holy Order of Protestant Knights, which serves the Queen of England by fighting supernatural forces of evil, which includes undead beings like vampires.  However, their secret weapon, and the body guard of the Hellsing family, is the original and most powerful vampire in existence – Alucard (hold it up to a mirror).  A mysterious group called Millennium is intent on creating an army of vampires to revive the Third Reich, and it’s up to the Hellsing Organization to defeat them.  Alucard is the most badass vampire around, no argument.  This series is sure to slate your thirst for blood and gore, because Alucard does not hold back, and he is insanely powerful.  Read the original manga from Dark Horse Comics.  Read the prequel manga, Hellsing: The Dawn, online.  Watch Gonzo’s amazing 13 episode anime from Geneon Entertainment.  As this anime deviates from the manga’s storyline significantly, there is another anime in production (an OVA) known as Hellsing Ultimate which follows the original story more closely, but has been slow to be produced and redistributed in America.  Geneon was originally releasing the series, but now FUNimation has taken over.

bbw_bloodBlood: The Last Vampire: Original animated film Directed by Hiroyuki Kitakubo and produced by Production I.G. and Aniplex.  Manga sequel Blood: The Last Vampire 2000 written by Benkyo Tamaoki.  Light novel adaptations Blood: The Last Vampire written by Junichi Fujisaku, Blood: The Last Vampire: Night of the Beasts written by Mamoru Oshii. This 2000 film inspired the 50-episode anime series Blood+, which is an “alternate universe” retelling of the story.  The film was remade into a live action movie in 2009.  Saya is a centuries old vampire who now works for a secret government organization, Red Shield, as a hunter, hunting down and killing chiropterans.  Undercover as a high school student on a military base, she must protect her classmates from the out of control monsters that attack the base with her katana, and help from her partner David.  Plenty of action and blood to satisfy any vampire fan.  The film was fully animated by computers, and voiced almost entirely in English.  It’s also quite short, running only 45 minutes. The novels pad out the story.  The live action film is a bit different, placing the story just after the end of WWII (the anime film takes place just before the Vietnam War) at a US army camp.  Instead of clearing out chiropterans, Saya is tracking down a deadly vampire called Onigen.  There was mostly praise for the animated film, though there were also some criticisms over a lack of a full story line.  Most critics praised Gianna Jun’s role as the live action Saya, but criticized the film as focusing too much on the action, and not enough on the story.  Find the original animated film from Manga Entertainment, (retitled) novel Blood: The Last Vampire 2002 from Viz Media, novel Blood: The Last Vampire: Night of the Beasts from Dark Horse, and the live action film from Sony Pictures.

bbw_blood_adagio1_superBlood+: Anime produced by Production I.G. and Aniplex, directed by Junichi Fujisaku.  Blood+ manga by Asuka Katsura (covers the anime events), Blood+: Adagio by Kumiko Suekane (follows Saya and Hagi during the Russian Revolution), Blood+: Kowloon Nights (follows Hagi as he searches for Saya in Shanghai); the first two are shonen titles, the last is a shojo title.  The light novel Blood+ is written by Ryō Ikehata and illustrated by Chizu Hashii (expands on the anime series), and Blood+ Russian Rose is written by Karino Minazuki and illustrated by Ryō Takagi (follows Saya and Hagi during the Russian Revolution).  This time, Saya starts out living a normal life as a high school student, with no memory of her past life, in the care of an adoptive family.  Her carefree life is interrupted when chiropterans begin to attack her, and a strange man named Hagi, whom she had frequently seen nearby playing the cello, claims to be her chevalier (her lifelong protector).  She discovers that she is a chiropteran queen (basically a vampire), and that she is the only one who can kill the crazed, monster-like chiropterans that are running rampant.  Production I.G. knocks another beautifully animated series out the door, and the 50 episodes showcase an impressive story.  Find the anime through Sony Pictures, and all of the manga and novels from Dark Horse.

bbwvampireknight5Vampire Knight: By Matsuri Hino; her best title so far.  She’s definitely improved over the years in both her artwork and her writing.  It’s her first “serious” title; previously she’s only written some pretty absurd and ridiculous romantic comedies.  It shows.  She’s clearly more comfortable with comedy, and she slips it in here and there, but she’s improving.  Headmaster Cross runs a unique school – it’s a private school for humans during the day, and vampires at night.  His adopted children Yuki and Zero act as guardians, making sure the humans and vampires keep their distance from each other.  Zero detests all vampires, having come from a family of vampire hunters; but Yuki holds great reverence for Kaname Kuran, a pureblood vampire who saved her life as a child.  Kaname and Headmaster Cross wish to work together to create a world where humans and vampires can live together in peace, but various forces behind the scenes are revealing some big secrets that could destroy everything they’re working for… and Yuki, teetering between the two worlds, will be the one who will suffer most.   Read the ongoing series from Viz Media, or watch the anime, coming in 2010 from Viz Media.

bbw_vampgirlVampire Girl/If You Wanna Break This World/Omae ga Sekai o Kowashitai Nara: By Fujiwara Kaoru, 3 volumes.  Koizumi has been watching Toujo from afar, but has never spoken to him.  When a friend of Toujo’s spots her, and tells Toujo that she looks like a girl from their past, Toujo insists he wants nothing to do with her.  While walking one night, Toujo passes by Koizumi in a car with her parents, and watches the family get hit by a large truck.  Wanting to save her life, Toujo does the only thing he can think of – he makes her a vampire.  The art is pretty good, and the story is beautiful and sad.  Read this online, because it’s unlicensed in America.

bbw_millenniumsnowMillennium Snow/A Thousand Years of Snow: By Biscto Hatori.  Be careful picking this one up.  From what I understand, Hatori ceased writing this manga to work on Ouran High School Host Club, so it doesn’t have a proper ending (but it’s not exactly a cliff hanger either).  17-year-old high school student Chiyuki Matsuoka has been hospitalized for a weak heart condition for most of her life, and wasn’t even expected to live as long as she has.  One day she sees a handsome boy fall from the roof of the hospital, and rushes out to make sure he is alright.  This handsome boy turns out to be an arrogant, rude vampire…one with a strange distaste for drinking blood.  Normally, when a vampire turns 18, he finds a human partner to provide blood for him, which also gives the human an equally long life (of about 1,000 years).  After learning this, Chiyuki pleads with Tōya Kanō to make her his partner, but he refuses, afraid of a thousand year unknown fate.  But when he witnesses her after a seizure, about to die, he gives her some of his own blood to prolong her life.  Read the two volumes from Viz Media; it’s short and a little sloppy, but it’s cute.

bbwvampire_hunter_dVampire Hunter D:  Original novels by Hideyuki Kikuchi with illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano.  Original 1985 animated film directed by Toyoo Ashida.  2000 animated film, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri.  Manga adaptation by Saiko Takaki.  The movies are based off of Kikuchi’s novels, but there are several differences; however the basic plot lines remain the same.  A blend of western, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, Lovecraft, folklore, and the occult.  Set in 12,090 AD, years after a devastating nuclear war, the world in which D wanders has been a wasteland of monsters and demons.  The humans have been fighting back, the vampires have recently fallen (much like the Atlanteans), and a rising group of independent mercenary hunters have been eliminating the threats that remain.  Enter D, a half human-half vampire, extremely skilled hunter.  The symbiote that lives in his left hand aids D on his hunts, and keeps the lone hunter company on his travels.  Find both films from Urban Vision, the novels from Dark Horse, and the manga from Digital Manga Publishing.

That’s all for now.  I hope you’ve found something interesting!  Come back next Monday for the second half of my look at vampires in anime and manga.




  1. Interesting indeed!

    The one that sounded most appealing to me was ‘Vampire Hunter D.’ Although this line was hilarious:

    “While walking one night, Toujo passes by Koizumi in a car with her parents, and they get hit by a large truck.”


  2. Eh? Was it poorly worded?
    Maybe it would be better if it read: “While walking one night, Toujo passes by Koizumi in a car with her parents, and watches the family get hit by a large truck.”
    Because it’s not amusing at all. 🙁 It’s this huge wreck, and he totally freaks out and runs out to save her, because he can’t bear to lose her (as he think she may be the reincarnation of someone he loved and lost years and years ago).

  3. Ah. I took it as Toujo got hit by the truck. Rereading now I realize I misread the subject.

    : )

  4. Kristin

    Well, that’s my fault for not writing the sentence clearly. I have fixed it.

  5. InfiniteSpeech

    I didn’t know there was so much more to the Blood series! I’ll have to find some time to check them out along with Hellsing..thanks!

  6. Kristin

    Yes indeed! There’s quite a bit. When you have character who have been around for so many years as Hagi and Saya have, it’s easy to write them into various places in history. I mean really, if you’re willing to focus just on Hagi and Saya, there are endless possibilities.
    Though you should note that the stories in the manga and light novels overlap. At that point, it’s really just the format you want it in.

  7. Billy

    Vamp-D looks great!

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