Light Novel Review: VAMPIRE HUNTER D Vol. 1 by Hideyuki Kikuchi & Yoshitaka Amano (2005)

Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy Science Fiction Western
Year Release in English: 2005
Buy Link: Barnes & Noble (Initially received via

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: violence, gore, threats of rape, misogyny

The hardest part of writing this review is figuring out which genre to slot this work into. The ’80’s genre classic, Vampire Hunter D follows the exploits of a dhampir, the eponymous Vampire Hunter D. He rides an electronic horse, has vampire powers, and uses a really cool sword to slay his half-brethren with. In this first volume, he goes to a town ruled by a Count, and a girl named Doris being preyed on by the vampires around. This first entry is fun with some rad world-building, definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of genre blends and vampire classics.

I love the characters. Doris had a bit of the damsel in distress trope, but she does hold her own in a fight. No one is entirely helpless, and, much like Geralt of Witcher fame, D does take his time assessing situations before turning to action. The tension between him and Rei-Ginsei is particularly tasty, since they’re on parallel paths with vastly different end points and outcomes.

It’s twelve thousand years into the future, and humans and vampires endure. One lives in utter fear of the other. There are some inconsistencies with vampire lore, like the fact that they can sexually reproduce, but so much of the technology introduced allows so much room for play. My personal favorite is the idea of Time Distortion Powder that allows vampires to change day into night. There’s also another fun reveal with their relationship to humanity and collective memory, which I honestly won’t spoil because the surprise is absolutely worth it.

So, is this series a science fiction, a fantasy, or a Western? It’s all of the above, and it’s clear that a lot of heart and aesthetic went into its writing. Can’t wait for more.

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