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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/14/2008 Archived Entry: "Novel review: Vampire Hunter D"

Vampire Hunter D
Story by Hideyuki Kikuchi
Art by Yoshitaka Amano
Published by Digital Manga Publishing
ISBN-10: 1595820124
ISBN-13: 9781595820129

Review by Jilly Gee

In this world of the far future created by Hideyuki Kikuchi, vampires are not just vampires; they are the Nobility. Having stepped in to rescue the remaining bits of mankind left over from their nuclear warfare, the vampires became their saviors and their masters, thus claiming for themselves such a title. The nature of mankind is not to just let themselves be ruled, however, and as soon as the Nobility began to show signs of weakness, the humans rebelled. The Nobility fell. While they are not as prominent as they once were, they are still out there. As strong as humans make themselves out to be, they are still terrified of the Nobility.

And so, the exceptionally brave and the incredibly skilled took up a profession known as "vampire hunter". Doris Lang, out looking for just such a person, encounters a handsome man, who looks around the age of 17. While he calls himself a vampire hunter, it is obvious that he is much more than just that. What he is exactly, however, remains a mystery, as he will not even reveal his real name, opting just to have people call him "D". Readers, however, are given hints to his origins; whether they are red herrings or actual clues, remains to be seen. Being the first of a multi-volume series, it is unlikely that such secrets would be revealed so soon.

Just because it is the first in a series, however, does not mean that the story told in this first novel feels unfinished. While there is the overarching story of D and his background to be dealt with, Doris's story fits quite neatly into this first volume. Though she is brave and skilled herself, she recognizes her limits and hires D to defeat the vampire that would inevitably come to claim her, having made his mark on her. Like the best hero stories, it is full of action, suspense, and even a slight bit of romance. Many battles are described within this one novel, yet each one feels uniquely different. The characters revealed new moves and techniques with every page, surprising readers with their outcomes. The problems that cropped up to keep D by Doris's side did not seem at all contrived or drawn out; everything flowed naturally within the story, one problem tying in well with another.

I was once told that it takes both a writer and a translator in order to translate a story from another language into something people will actually feel inclined to read. A translator may do a good job of getting the meaning of things across, but leave the actual translated writing a bit bland. A good writer on the other hand, would not be able to accomplish much without knowing the meanings of the original words. The translator for this novel, Kevin Leahy, does his job exceptionally well, all things considered. Not once did I stop while reading and think to myself that such and such is phrased awkwardly and then make the excuse that it's because it's translated. All the descriptions had a surprising amount of detail that I wasn't used to seeing in translated light novels from Japan. Whether this speaks more for the writer or the translator, I cannot say. In any case, Vampire Hunter D not only contains enough action to satisfy the restless and enough suspense to keep even the know-it-alls guessing, but it presents all this in finely worded detail.

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