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The world as we know it is in ruins, and has been for centuries. The end of our civilisation saw the rise of the vampire Noble clan, who ruled over humanity for nearly a thousand years before their civilisation, too, degenerated. In the midst of it all, THINGS crawled from the shadows, mutations spawned by the devastation wrought by humankind n their long ago war. With degenerate vampires feasting upon their once loyal human subjects, and demon-like spawn preying upon the unwary and the helpless, it is just as well that some technology still exists to combat them. By far, the best wielders of such methods are the hunters, who wander place to place collecting bounties for a living. Many of them look human, but are themselves mutants. Then you have the much feared D. He never fails, but even humans who hire him fear him. For he is dhampir, half vampire, half human. With all the strengths of the vampire, and very little of their weakness thanks to his lineage. Riding upon his cybernetic horse across the wastelands, he helps those in need while searching for an elusive someone. Someone connected to his secret past. Someone he refers to only as HIM. Someone named Dracula. His father. What happens when D finds him, doesn't bode well. ..
Volume three of the manga adaptation of the original Vampire D light novels sees the story told in book three, Demon Deathchase , which was also adapted into the film Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. D receives a plea for assistance from a wealthy family living on the frontier. A noble named Mayerling, previously known for his extreme virtue, has kidnapped the daughter of the family and turned or killed all who sought to take her back.
Desperate, the family put out a reward of ten million, and sent out invitations to the cream of the bounty hunter crop. D arrives on-site just in time to encounter very powerful rivals, the Marcus clan, who not only kill the bounty they hunt, but any hunter who stands between them and reward collection. Add in the fact that they will kill ANY vampire, or dhampir, on sight regardless of bounty, and D has trouble on his hands. After an early encounter with Mayerling, Leila Marcus is injured, and helped by D. Confused by the kindness she finds from a dhampir, she begins to look at him a bit differently. When events unfold that reveal that the girl they are sent to retrieve is not a kidnap victim, but a runaway eloping with her beloved, things get even murkier. Is this a bounty that should be collected? And what is the final destination that Mayerling and the girl so desperately try to reach together?
It is a tale of star crossed lovers, prejudices, and intrigue that offers a tantalising glimpse of the lost grandeur that was the vampiric empire. Stand aside Edward, this is one handsome vampire with a human lover that has some real issues to overcome, all in the name of a love that transcends destiny. Kikuchi's usual punchy prose adds greatly to the sense of urgency as D evades not only the Marcus clan, but stalks his prey, while Mayerling tries to outwit them both and secure the future he so wants to provide himself and his beloved. The always beautiful illustrations by Saiko Takaki impart the urgency and pathos wonderfully, leaving us with a sense of impending tragedy as we watch the two lovers cling to each other in almost Shakespearean style, reminiscent of a Romeo and Juliet scenario.
Following on as it does from the previous volume where the reader was also treated to the "human" side of the vampire race and its tragic conclusion, one feels greatly moved and sympathetic to a race that once great, has now fallen, and is often misunderstood. It becomes quite apparent that a great bit of humanity's woes with the modern vampires is not so much the fact that they feed upon and turn humans, but that prejudices on both sides by sections of the more general populations led to the status quo.
You can visit this world of pathos either in paperback form, available from places that sell manga, such as Amazon, Forbidden Planet, Play.com, and so on, or enjoy it in digital format via the publisher's Emanga website. Unlike the first two volumes, it has yet to be released in Kindle format or for reading on the PSP.
***I would like to thank Digital Manga Publishing for providing me with this review copy.****