Friday, September 14, 2018

Vampire Hunter D: Raiser of Gales

Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano, Vampire Hunter D: Raiser of Gales
I was still hungry from more Vampire Hunter after watching the two movies, and forgot (again) that the tone of the light novels is radically different from their animated counterparts. I'm not sure how much of this difference is the work of translation or present in the original, but it's safe to say that everybody in these books wants the D. All women find D mysterious and irresistible. There is a scene where schoolgirls openly lust after the vampire hunter. There are tons of moments where the men in the book are all "no homo, but I guess I'd fuqq." Even the authorial voice tries to suck D's dick; he's described variously as an "Adonis" or a "gorgeous god of death."

All of that gives Raiser of Gales a very googly-eyed teenagers-in-heat sort of vibe, which would fit the imagined audience for a light novel, but plays strangely against the book's grotty content; threats of rape are pretty common in Raiser of Gales, and the sexual abuse of a minor by trusted adults rears it's head as a plot point--as does a scene in which a character is orally raped by her adopted father. Of course, our heroine gets through the horrific ordeal by day-dreaming about D. She literally lies back and thinks of England D. These books are fuckin' wild.

The whiplash juxtaposition of overheated fantasy reverie and stark grittiness permeates the book as a whole. The action scenes are breathless four-color affairs, but Amano's illustrations grant them an emotional weight missing from the text itself. The writing dashes around madly--the sex scenes, in particular, feel like a virgin's rush to the finish line--but occasionally a truly poetic sentiment emerges out of nowhere, blindsiding what is otherwise a pretty trashy narrative style. The world-building is more implicit than explicit, and it's compelling: the world is far-future post apocalypse where ancient vampires have space-age technology and tamper with the genetic fabric of life itself. And yet, that world-building is essentially just a backdrop for D to do real cool shit. (FACT: Vampire Hunter D is the Mary-est of Mary Sues.) In the end, the book's convolutions don't add up to much, but hot damn I can't wait to waste a couple hours reading another one in the series.