The fourth volume in Saiko Takaki’s ongoing manga adaptation of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Vampire Hunter D (DMP) slides more fully into sci-fi territory as our dhampir vampire hunter is called to a floating city to tackle an infestation of bio-engineered blood suckers. As before, our hero is helped and/or hindered by a beauteous large-breasted damsel and a roguish wasteland wayfarer, while the usual gaggle of townsfolk view our half-vampire protagonist with typical small-town suspiciousness. Also on board, a handsome physician who knows karate and is acquainted with a character from an earlier volume, plus a burly town sheriff who’s pissed because the mayor has hired the vampire hunter.
D’s talkative demonic hand gets a few more good lines in this outing, plus a chance to demonstrate its powers. Throughout the volume, our beseiged survivors have to fend off post-apocalyptic creatures (sand vipers, poisonous birds) and amuck technology (a wandering airborne craft on autopilot) between the vampire assaults. If we learn nothing new about our taciturn hero in this entry, our view of his desolate world’s technology manages to expand a notch.
Writer/artist Takaki jokes about the punishing deadlines on this series, but they don’t appear to have hampered the finished product. By now, the manga D has its clearly established moody look — at times reminiscent of the Philippine artist horror comics that Warren put out in the seventies (frog-faced mayor Ming looks like he could have stepped out of an issue of Vampirella) — while original creator Kikuchi’s western horror formula continues to hold our attention. Still wish we got more of D’s back story, though. . .