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[Night Warriors: Darkstalker
AKA: Vampire Hunter the Animated Series
Genre: Video game-based horror fighting action
Length: OAV, 4 episodes, 45 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by Discotek Media.
Content Rating: 16+ (graphic violence, some language, fan service)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, Street Fighter II
Notes: Based on the Dark Stalkers video game series, known in Japan as Vampire Hunter, but renamed in North America to avoid confusion with the Vampire Hunter D anime. There is an American-made cartoon also based on this game, but we're all trying to forget it ever existed.

Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge


The world is a dark, brooding place populated by humans, but ruled in reality by powerful beings known as the Darkstalkers, and there is constant conflict between them as they try to determine who is the most powerful of them all. Zombies, vampires, werewolves - all of them compete in contests of strength and sheer will to attain their own personal goals.

All of this becomes moot when a race of Aztec robots called the Huitzil decide that humanity isn't worth saving, and start waging war on the world, while in the sky, a solar god from outer space plots the conquest of Earth. And the Darkstalkers must become unwilling allies in order to save the world.


And just when we thought all video game anime had to royally suck eggs, Night Warriors came along.

Indeed, this series is based on one of my personal favorites among the fighting game genre. While perhaps the most unrealistic and over-the-top of all fighting games (tied with Jojo's Bizarre Adventure), Darkstalkers always had the most interesting (and amusing) characters, and the OAV series takes full advantage of that.

And therein lies the inherent problem of this series - with only four OAVs, how in the world are you going to follow the events surrounding over a dozen characters and form a coherent story?

The answer? You don't.

Fortunately, the animation is top-notch, with action scenes equalling the Street Fighter series in execution, and the character moves are well-portrayed. Indeed, the characters themselves are well-done, too, but there are too many of them for there to be an actual focus to the anime. One moment, we see Dmitri, the vampire, fighting Morrigan, and then we're following Felicia and the heavy-metal zombie Lord Raptor and then Hsien-ko (or, Lei-Lei if you prefer ^_^) is killing spider-things in a cave and then half-breed Donovan is angsting with little girl Anita in tow and now he's fighting Bishamon and so on and so forth. And not even all the characters show up - though I admit it's hard to put on a serious story with Sasquatch!

So forget the plot and watch the pretty pictures. Night Warriors was never intended to be a thinking man's anime to begin with, and ruminating on what might have been is a waste of time with this title. However, as a video game anime, it's far better than average, because at least the characters are well-done, and the animation's nice. Indeed, half the fun of Night Warriors is watching freaky-looking characters speak in soliloquys that would make Hamlet red in the face, and then trashing their opponents with martial arts moves. When the most realistic character in the whole show is the winsome, hyperkinetic catgirl Felicia, you get to expect over-the-top mayhem and live with it.

If you want consistency, coherency, and other such things, you're in the wrong genre. However, Night Warriors is quite watchable, and though perhaps it fails completely as a story, it's still a lot of fun to watch, especially for fans of the series, unlike the incredibly stupid (and poorly executed) American Dark Stalkers cartoon.

One only wonders what the creators might have done with a full-length anime television series of this. But at least it's a step closer to the really good fighting game anime that we figure somebody ought to make someday.

Good for its genre, but not really up to the standards of mainstream anime.Carlos/Giancarla Ross

Recommended Audience: This is a very violent series, with bloody onscreen deaths, especially during the Bishamon segment, in which a wagonload of men is attacked by a sword-wielding ghostly samurai, and systemically beheaded or dismembered. As a result, it's recommended only for mature teens and above.

Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Partial (2/4)
Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge © 1997 Capcom / Amuse Video
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