Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Nightwalker - Midnight Detective (2000)

Nightwalker: Midnight Detective (2004) is a supernatural mystery Japanese anime about a vampire detective who vows to protect humans from the darkness in his quest to regain his humanity. With his companions (Yayoi, Guni and Riho), he investigates and defeats his enemies, the ‘Night Breed.” These evil creatures escape to Earth and manipulate weak human souls to ‘seek the light.’ Latter episodes also explore how the main characters met each other in the series. Graphic scenes include Christian themes, sexual imagery and bloody action. This is a review of the DVDs.

MAIN CAST
Tatsuhiko Shido - He is a 200+ year-old vampire detective at Shido Private Detective Agency. ‘Shido’ is not his real name because the memories of his past have been lost since he was turned into a vampire. To regain his humanity back, he swears to protect humans from nightbreeds terrorizing the city. As a vampire, his eyes turn yellow like a cat, and his weapon is a sword made out of his own blood.

Matsunaga Yayoi - She is a NOS detective who gathers intelligence for Shido to defeat the nightbreeds since her family has a long track history with nightbreeds. Immuned to a vampire’s bite, she is often a treat to Shido during times of blood loss or sexual activity.

Yamazaki Riho - She is a high school student who works part-time as a maid at Shido’s agency. She lost her family to a nightbreed incident. While she has a crush on Shido, she does not know Shido is a vampire.

Guni - Shido’s little demon friend who travels with him occasionally. She is often very critical of Riho’s naivete. Despite her sarcastic behavior, she has a soft spot and tries to protect Shido.

Cain - The man who turned Shido into a vampire. While hundreds of years older than Shido, this handsome but cruel man wants Shido to return to the old days as his partner and witness the “golden dawn.” He holds the memories of Shido’s lost past.

EPISODES

First Night: A Visitor in the Night
They say there is a curse on the Bay Bridge in Tokyo. Victims have their body drained completely of their blood. These monsters, or nightbreeds, can take possession of any lifeform. Can Shido and Yayoi defeat this nightbreed before it terrorizes and feeds off more victims?

Second Night: The Terms of Stardom
Sukimura Yukia is an aspiring actress who must outshine anyone on the stage. When her understudy, Asahura Yohko, makes a deal with the nightbreed to take her body instead, Yohko has no idea what horror lies behind the deal. Can Shido and Yayoi defeat this monster before it manipulates and devours Yohko’s soul?

Third Night: A Man On the Run (Part 1 of 2)
A cop has been shot in the line of duty in the head, and lies in the hospital in a comatose state. Strangely, the cop, Taki, awakens—only a nightbreed has taken possession of his body. Taki’s fiancee asks Shido to find her missing husband, Taki. Unfortunately, Shido meets someone from his past he rather avoids. He must hurry before the “golden dawn” comes.

Fourth Night: The Golden Dawn (Part 2 of 2)
Victims are dying after seeing their blood in shock in public places. When Riho meets Megumi, Taki’s fiancee, who is now pregnant, it scares her to tell Shido and Yayoi. The mysterious man, Cain, comes back to haunt Shido. Cain also kidnaps Riho. Will it be too late for Shido to rescue Riho before the “golden dawn” approaches?

Fifth Night: Medicine for the Dead
A Chinese herb medicine is popular among high school children. However, suicides and strange incidents have been happening. When Riho’s friends, Shunichi and Mikako, search for her, they discover that Riho can no longer finish high school with them anymore. Shunichi overhears that Riho has been hanging out with an older man (Shido). Will this fear and jealousy destroy Riho’s friends?

Sixth Night: The Bottom of a Well
Shido is chasing after a nightbreed into the cemetery and construction zone. When a nightbreed kidnaps a little girl, Shido lunges and all three find themselves in the bottom of a well. While Riho and Yayoi try to pinpoint where Shido has gone, they discover the identity of the missing girl not so normal. Will Shido escape the well without harming the girl and freeing the demon?

Seventh Night: A Mother and Her Son
Dead animals with their organs eaten are popping around an apartment complex. Riho, now a vampire, walks in the rainy weather and spots a young boy, Shinji, with a kitten in his arms. His mother frantically commands him to leave the animals alone. Shido, Yayoi and Riho find the mother suspicious. Does she know more than she’s displaying?

Eighth Night: A Soul Lost in the Darkness
Family members plot a murder to inherit their grandfather’s estate. But when they discover that the old man has disappeared from the vehicle, they run into a wild goose chase to find the body. Asami seeks Shido’s services. Will Shido ever learn the truth behind this case?

Ninth Night: Someone Else’s Face
As Shido enters town on a dark night, he has a little fairy named Guni accompanying him. As he settles at a local hotel, he learns that two twin sisters, Matsunaga Kasumi and Yayoi, operate the place. One of the sisters, Yayoi, has bandages on her face. Shido knows something dangerous is happening, but will he discover the nightbreed that is skinning the faces of people before it’s too late?

Tenth Night: Tears of an Angel
Yuki seems to always have luck. Maybe she’s too lucky. Ever since she has found a pendant, the “angel” inside the jewelry promises her happiness. However, Shido and Guni sense the pendant as a nightbreed and urge the girl to discard it immediately. But she won’t listen and runs away. Will Yuki learn on her own that this “angel” is not what she thinks it is?

Eleventh Night: A Witch in the Forest
In the past, Shido arrives at a desolate town where only a woman exists in her home. She asks him if he has seen her ‘Schubek” who has gone away in a glorious battle. While Cain, former vampire lover, insists that Shido returns with him and forget the woman, he refuses. Will Shido rescue the woman or learn a dark secret that will haunt him instead?

Twelfth Night: Eternal Darkness
Shido and Yayoi face nightbreeds that happen to be Riho’s dead parents. After defeating them, Riho packs to leave Shido’s place. “People meet and people part.” Unfortunately, Riho causes much harm to the human world by abusing her vampire powers. Will Shido be able to save her before everyone close to him is in danger?


SUMMARY
Several years ago, I ran across this series at Blockbuster Videos. It reminded me of previous vampire anime shows, including Vampire Hunter D and Blood: The Last Vampire. Overall, this is a great series for supernatural fans who love Japanese animatio. The animation is good but I am annoyed with the way the directors changed some of the characters' physical features half-way through the series so abruptly. The opening song, "Gessakai (Moonlight)" by BUCK-TICK is also awesome because it matches Shido's personality.

The DVD series (Nightwalker: Midnight Detective and Nightwalker: Eternal Darkness) include English dubbed or Japanese with English subtitles. Amazingly, the English dubbed version was executed very well. It also has storyboard art (cells and background visuals, basically the “Making of Nightwalker”), previews of other anime (classic and recent) by Central Park Media like The Harlock Saga, Angel Sanctuary, Project A-ko, etc. and other special features. The final episode, Eternal Darkness, wraps these series nicely and will keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Too bad this is the end of Nightwalker. I highly recommend this series.


"Gessakai" by BUCK-TICK

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