I strongly believe that a great story could be told around the Darkstalkers universe, but sadly, Revenge is not the case.
Darkstalkers must be one of the most eye-catching fighting game series ever made. Although it never reached the popularity of Street Fighter, there’s something undeniably charming about being able to play as vampires, demons, zombies, werewolves, mummies and robots. But believe it or not, there was a time when Darkstalkers was so popular, that the franchise had its own television series. Darkstalkers’ Revenge (also known as Vampire Hunter: The Animated Series) is a four 40-minute anime that sheds some light into the lives of Morrigan, Felicia and all the others.
There’s a war between Demitri Maximoff and Morrigan Aensland and this will determine the new ruler of the Demon World. But an alien invader lands on Earth and plans to take over the planet by destroying the most powerful warriors living in it: the Darkstalkers. That’s the underlying plot that connects the four episodes, but several Darkstalker characters make an appearance in the OVAs with the exception of Anakaris, Rikuo, Sasquatch and Victor who aren’t part of the main storyline.
The most iconic characters from Darkstalkers are here and the sheer number of them feels forced and overwhelming which is a common problem in movies and television series based on popular fighting game properties. Luckily, the animated rendition of said characters is loyal to those of the games. Darkstalkers’ Revenge doesn’t work well in isolation though, so those who are into the franchise already would like to know more about these characters, will have a great time with these series of OVAs.
Darkstalkers’ Revenge shares a lot of similarities with Saturday morning cartoon. The dialogues are flat, there’s nothing particularly memorable about the story and there are several action scenes in the form of street brawls, shootings or explosions. As it’s usually the case with Japanese anime from the 90s that made it to America, the English dub leaves a lot to be desired. It’s isn’t terrible by any stretch, but you’d be wise to track down the original Japanese version with English subtitles instead. Since it follows so many characters, the story lacks focus and it’s hard to follow, especially since some events don’t seem to be connected at first.
The superb animation deserves a paragraph on its own. This four-episode OVA was in charge of Madhouse Studios (which some might recognize for anime series like Claymore, Cardcaptor Sakura, Last Order: Final Fantasy VII, Trigun, Texhnolyze and Ichigo 100%, among others) and it looks stunning. The smooth animation, colorful techniques bring these characters to life and make some of the fights easy to follow.
Darkstalkers’ Revenge has its strengths, but most of the time I was distracted with the impenetrable story and the lack of characterization. And that’s a shame because the animation is stunning and the Darkstalkers universe is fascinating. I strongly believe that a great story could be told around that universe, but sadly, Darkstalkers Revenge is not the case.