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Vampire Hunter D: Mysterious Journey to the North Sea (vol 7 – 8)

Here’s a D story that’s pretty different from the previous ones. First of all, it takes place over two volumes so the narrative itself is a lot more expansive. I’m not entirely sure if that’s a virtue or not. There is a certain great economy in the one volume stories. I’m always impressed with how Kikuchi manages to spin out all kinds of little details and then pull them all in taunt at the end in those stories. In Mysterious Journey to the North Sea, it seems that the biggest difference is just that there are more characters to track. The story itself centers on a mysterious jewel/bead that a young woman was murdered to get. D happens to be there as she dies and she makes him promise to take the bead to her sister in a far away fishing village. D, being the nice guy that he is, agrees although he has no idea what the bead is or what it’s for. However, the man who had the girl killed still wants the bead and a whole slew of other ruffians join the chase. So D has to deal with not only delivering the bead to the dead girl’s sister, but he then has to protect the sister, Su-In, from no less than 10 possible assailants. And, in true Kikuchi fashion, Su-In herself has some repressed connection to the Nobles that used to run the coast where the village is located.

D actually has a bit of trouble in this one. But he does have to fight a whole lot of “people.” But the story is also interesting because we get to see D charming the local children, fighting in the sea despite the vampire’s inability to swim or cross running water—we see him hesitate for goodness sake, reinacting a scene from Dracula with himself in the position that Dracula had been in, actually considering staying in the village after his quest is done and settling down as a fisherman, and a host of other sort of odd, out of character things. In fact, the story seems to suggest that D is actually quite attracted to Su-In. She is one tough chick so he clearly admires her. But the narrator makes it clear that D acts completely out of character around her and the narrator is pretty surprised about this too. Left Hand, of course, teases D about this and there is one funny scene in which Left Hand seems to have spilled perfume on D so that he smells like roses. Then poor D has to deal with the laughter that follows when the villagers say, “Hmm… does anyone else smell roses?” and then Left Hand cries out “It’s me!” Poor guy. The attraction between D and Su-In doesn’t come to anything, of course. In all of the novels, there is usually a solid, upstanding youth from the village who has always loved the heroine and he comes in to pick up the pieces once D leaves. Su-In has two suitors to choose from here.

There are some fabulous illustrations by Yoshitaka Amano, as always. I particularly like this one because it reminds me of The Great Wave by Hokusai a little bit. D is fighting with a mermaid there. Yes, a mermaid.

 

The cover is particularly unique because D is so colorful. Here are the covers for part 1 and part 2.

 

D’s father is conspicuously absent from the tale. He’s the one D is named after, remember? D’s father usually works as a shadowy figure in the background, often designated as “him.” The italics say it all because every character immediately knows who him is whether they’ve seen him or not. D’s father isn’t present in this story but he is still responsible for the bead and evidence that he had been there is around. Like I said, instead of getting D’s father, we get a wonderful scene in which D climbs down a sheer wall, head first, just as Jonathan Harker saw Dracula climb down the wall of his castle. This is one of the most explicit references to Dracula, so in a way, D’s father is more present here than in any other story at the same time he is not involved with the plot.