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Japan, 2001 (MIFF 2001, Animation Gallery)

Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri

Classy, intelligent and visually complex animation by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, a veteran with at least two of the most internationally successful animes ever to his credit, Wicked City (1989) and Ninja Scroll (1995).

The enigmatic, Eastwood-like D is one of the few surviving vampires in a dark far future where his kind have been practically wiped out. A being at war with himself, D struggles to balance his humanist impulses with the bloodlust that burns within. A noble mercenary, D is hired by a wealthy rancher to rescue his beautiful daughter from the clutches of the malevolent nightstalker Meier Link. D must outwit competing bounty hunters and numerous trials sent to test him by the seemingly omnipotent Link.

The film boasts outstanding character design and a script with depth and intricacy. Director Kawajiri has been careful not to rely on the standard trappings of the vampire film - stakes, garlic and crucifixes are all but absent - and decided instead to expand the mythos with superstitions and a lexicon all his own.

"Striking visual ideas and an intriguing concept that blends the look and loner ethos of a Sergio Leone western with the crumbling, gothic settings of a Mario Bava horror film." - New York Times

Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Yokohama, 1950) began working at Mushi Productions, one of Japan's most renowned animation studios, in 1968, before moving to Madhouse in 1972. Kawajiri's directorial debut came with two installments of the Lensman series (1984, 87), followed by Neo Tokyo (1987) and Demon City Shinjuku (1988). Other credits include Cyber City Odeo 808 (1991) and the X (MIFF 2001) television series.

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