Fans of Netflix’s original vampire anime series Castlevania have been waiting more than a year for updates on whether or not there would be Castlevania Season 5. On June 10, 2022, a trailer was released for the upcoming Castlevania spin-off that will be titled Castlevania: Nocturne.
The story is set during the French Revolution and will center on Richter Belmonth, the descendant of Trevor Belmont and his lover Sypha. Richter and his friend Maria Renard, who is a skilled magic user and his sister-in-law, will hunt down villainous vampires.
Castlevania is popular with mature fans of the vampire genre, especially those who are into the original lore of Dracula. If you’ve already finished binge-watching the first four seasons of Castlevania and your craving for more bloody vampire anime hasn’t been fulfilled you’re in the right place.
My Top 5 list features sophisticated vampire anime that have the most memorable vampire heroes, villains and anti-heroes, coolest vampire hunters (at times warrior priests), and complex medieval or post-apocalyptic worlds.
5. Seraph of the End (2015)
Seraph of the End is a Japanese dark fantasy manga series written by Takaya Kagami and illustrated by Yamato Yamamoto. Daisuke Furuya did the storyboards for the manga. In September 2012 the manga was serialized in Shueisha’s Jump SQ magazine. Seraph of the End received an anime adaptation by Wit Studio that lasted two cours and was licensed by Funimation.
In 2012, the world comes to an end at the hands of an allegedly “man-made” virus that ravages the global populace and leaves only children under the age of 13 alive. Afraid of losing their remaining prey to the sudden monsters that have appeared, the vampires emerge from the shadows and under the guise of being humanity’s savior sweep across the Earth and claim it. The subjugated humans are led underground to safety, but in return for the vampires’ protection, the children must “donate” their blood to their captors.
The story centers on a twelve-year-old boy named Yuichiro, and his best friend and fellow orphan Mikaela, who are both living at the mercy of the vampires along with their other childhood friends from the Hyakuya Orphanage. Yuichiro and Mikaela decide to plan their escape from the vampire city, but during their attempt, they are betrayed by a vampire noble and are all killed, except for Yuichiro.
Mikaela sacrificed his life to ensure that Yuichiro would be able to survive and escape. Yuichiro is later discovered by the Moon Demon Company – an extermination unit of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army that specializes in hunting down and killing vampires and monsters that are called the Four Horsemen of John.
Four years later, it’s revealed that Yuichiro has been training to kill the vampires in order to avenge the deaths of his family members. At the same time, it is revealed that Mikaela was turned into a vampire and plans to find Yuichiro since he believes that the humans are only using him for their own devious purposes.
Kagami has also written a series of light novels that focuses on one of the most popular character in the series – Yu’s superior, Guren Ichinose that has been illustrated by Yamamoto. The manga’s English release has been licensed by Viz Media in North America and the manga ran in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine.
The reasons to watch Seraph of the End include its unique premise that the vampires are in control of the Earth, the mystery behind what the Seraph of the End really is and its connection with Yu, Mika’s conflict with being a vampire, and struggling with his bloodlust, the heartwarming friendship between Yu and Mika, the intense fights against the vampires, the unusual monsters with biblical origins, and the weapons that contain demons that are used by the Demon Company.
4. The Case Study of Vanitas (2021-22)
The Case Study of Vanitas is a Japanese fantasy vampire manga series written and illustrated by Jun Mochizuki. Since December 2015 the manga was serialized in Square Enix’s shonen manga magazine Monthly Gangan Joker. Yen Press has published the English version of the manga in North America. From July 2021 to April 2022 an anime television series adaptation by Bones aired.
The Case Study of Vanitas is set in a fantastical steampunk-esque 19th Century setting in Paris, France. The story focuses on a young human man named Vanitas, who possesses the grimoire called The Book of Vanitas, and uses it to cure cursed vampires. Vanitas is aided in his quest by a vampire named Noe Archiviste.
After a trip to France Jun Mochizuki felt inspired to write The Case Study of Vanitas, and since she is a fan of vampire movies like Bram Stoker’s Dracula she decided to make the story about vampires. Mochizuki is known for her story Pandora Hearts, but wanted to write more appealing fight scenes and have more mystery by focusing on hidden identities in The Case Study of Vanitas.
I believe Mochizuki was able to surpass Pandora Hearts – the fight scenes and action sequences in The Case Study of Vanitas are intense and have you on the edge of your seat. The added air of mystery, which surrounds Vanitas, and his true identity make things more interesting. There are also a lot of funny moments that add a pleasant break from all the seriousness in the story.
During an airship ride to Paris, the vampire Noe Archiviste encounters Vanitas, a human claiming to be a doctor that treats vampires. Vanitas is able to cure vampires of a “malnomen” or “curse” which causes a vampire’s bloodlust to go out of control and causes them to behave predatorily against their will.
Noe was sent by his master to find The Book of Vanitas, which Vanitas uses to cure the vampires, and decide for himself whether or not the book is good or evil. The reason for this is the book has a connection to the Vampire of the Blue Moon – a vampire hated by the vampires of the Red Moon, who form traditional vampire society, simply because he was born under the light of the blue moon rather than the red moon.
The human doctor that Noe is investigating decided to take the name of the Vampire of the Blue Moon – Vanitas. Noe reluctantly teams up with the eccentric Vanitas to track down and cure cursed vampires together. Things get complicated due to a threat lurking in the shadows that may be responsible for corrupting the names of the cursed vampires.
Reasons to watch The Case Study of Vanitas include the friendship between the human doctor Vanitas and the vampire Noe is fun to watch, the fight scenes between Vanitas and Noe and the cursed vampires they are trying to save are action-packed, the villain (Charlatan) who lurks in the shadows is frightening, the mysteries that surround Vanitas’ past are intriguing, Vanitas and Joan’s relationship is very sensual, and the way a vampire’s prey becomes aroused when bitten makes several scenes in this anime spicy.
3. Trinity Blood (2005)
Trinity Blood is a series of sci-fi fantasy Japanese light novels written by Sunao Yoshida that was originally serialized in The Sneaker magazine. Thores Shibamoto illustrated the novels. The story is set 900 years after an apocalyptic war between humans and vampires left the world in a state of cold war. The Vatican and human government are at odds with the government of the vampiric Methuselah that calls itself the New Human Empire. Fighting for humanity and on the side of the Vatican is Abel Nightroad, who acts as an ordinary priest by day, but at night shows his true colors as a Crusnik – a vampire that feeds on other vampires.
The political intrigue due to individuals in the Vatican and the Empire striving for peace between the two races while the Rosen Kruez Order tries to sabotage such attempts makes the story extra riveting. Trinity Blood’s manga adaptation featured illustrations by Kiyo Kujo, and Yoshida’s friend Yasui helped to complete the story. Trinity Blood’s anime adaptation (24 episodes) was produced by Gonzo and aired on Wowow network.
Due to the overpopulation on planet Earth, the United Nations decided to attempt to colonize Mars. During their investigation of the planet they discovered two alien technologies – the Bacillus virus and the Crusnik nanomachines. The colonists who injected themselves with the Bacillus virus were transformed into a vampiric race that became known as the Methuselah. The Crusnik was installed in the bodies of four test-tube babies: Seth, Cain, Abel, and Lilith. Only these children were able to survive the procedure due to their enhanced bodies.
The wars on Earth escalated to the point of Armageddon – the apocalyptic event that occurred 900 years before the start of the story in Trinity Blood. The colonists decided to return to Earth to help with the rebuilding, but a war broke out between the Methuselah and the humans. Abel, Cain, and Seth decided to side with the Methuselah while their “sister” Lilith chose to support the Vatican, which guarded humanity. During the ensuing war, Cain lost his mind and unknowingly killed Lilith. Abel took her body to the Vatican where she was buried and remained at her side, mourning her death for 900 years.
At the start of the story, war continues to rage between the Methuselah and the Terrans – the human inhabitants of Earth. Standing in the Methuselah’s way is the Roman Catholic Church that is a major military power determined to protect humans from vampires. The Roman Catholic Church’s power is based in the Vatican whereas the Methuselah has its capital in Byzantium. A field of particles that filter out UV radiation surrounds the vampire’s capital and protects the Methuselah population.
The Methuselah and Terrans both use “lost technologies” such as airships, missiles and supercomputers to fight their cold war. Both sides begin to set their sights on the independent monarchy of Albion that is a primarily human country and has a superior arsenal of lost technology and weapons. Albion has a dark secret, however. Beneath Albion lies an underground city where enslaved Methuselah are forced to manufacture and operate lost technology. Upon the death of the Albion Queen, the enslaved vampires decide to form a resistance and aim to free all of the vampire Ghetto residents.
Reasons to watch Trinity Blood include: the Crusnik Abel is a very interesting and complex character, the concept of a vampire that feeds on other vampires is unique, Studio Gonzo (that is also behind the original Hellsing anime) delivers with an edgy art style that is visually appealing, the forbidden love Abel feels for the nun he works with, and the Jrock band Buck-Tick did the memorable opening theme song.
2. Hellsing Ultimate (2006-12)
Hellsing is an action-horror Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Kouta Hirano. From May 1997 to September 2008 it was serialized in Shonen Gahosha’s seinen manga magazine Young King OURs and the manga’s chapters have been collected into ten tankobon volumes. The series centers on Alucard – a powerful vampire who works for the mysterious and secret Hellsing Organization as it combats vampires, ghouls, and other supernatural foes that threaten England’s peace.
The famous vampire hunter, Abraham Van Helsing, founded the Hellsing Organization and its key weapon is the very first or “original” vampire – Alucard (which is Dracula spelled backward). Long ago, Alucard lived as Count Dracula until Van Helsing subdued him. Due to being the “original vampire” Alucard has powers that at times make him more a Lovecraftian beast than a handsome vampire male.
In the early 2000s, Hellsing was adapted into an anime series by Gonzo, which lasted 13 episodes. Umanosuke Iida and Yasunori Urata directed the anime while Chiaki J. Konaka wrote the script. Later, a retelling OVA series titled Hellsing Ultimate produced by Geneon ran for ten episodes and garnered a more positive response by ramping up the bloodshed and adopting a dark, edgy style.
Read about the new upcoming live-action movie here: Hellsing live-action movie adaptation by Amazon to be penned by John Wick creator Derek Kolstad
The story centers on Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, who is the current leader of the Hellsing Organization (Royal Order of Protestant Knights), and the vampire Alucard, who swore loyalty to the Hellsing Organization after being defeated by Van Helsing one hundred years before the story takes place. The Hellsing Organization’s duty is to hunt down and destroy the undead and other supernatural threats that may threaten the Queen and England.
Integra witnessed the death of her father, which turned her from an innocent, shy girl into a tough, cold-hearted woman, who becomes a deadly force in her own right when she inherits the leadership of the Hellsing Organization from her father. The family butler Walter C. Dornez is always at Integra’s side to protect her. Former police officer Seras Victoria, whom Alucard turned into a vampire, serves to bring Alucard and Walter together in an unlikely alliance.
The story begins when Sir Integra investigates the reason why there has been a sudden increase in undead incidents not only in England but also all around the world. Integra discovers that the remnants of a Nazi group called Millennium are intent on reviving Nazi Germany and intend to create a battalion of vampires to take over the Earth. Millennium, the Hellsing Organization, and the Vatican section XIII Iscariot clash in an apocalyptic three-sided war that takes place in London. Alucard’s past haunts him when it’s revealed that one of Millennium’s main objectives is to kill him due to a feud which began during World War II.
Reasons to watch Hellsing Ultimate include: the ten-episode OVA follows the manga more closely than the first anime adaptation, the anti-hero Alucard, who toes the line between hero and villain, is fascinating to watch, Seras and Integra are two powerful female characters, the way Alucard appears to be torn between his feelings for Seras and Integra, the references to the original Dracula legend, and the battles between Alucard and zombies, other vampires, and warrior priests are exciting and bloody.
1. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust (2000)
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is a dark fantasy, horror, and adventure anime film produced by Madhouse, Filmlink International, BMG Japan, Movic, Good Hill Vision, and Soft Capital. Yoshiaki Kawajiri wrote the script, worked on the storyboard, and directed the film. Yutaka Minowa was in charge of character design. Serving as art director and designing the setting was Yuji Ikehata. Marco D’Ambrosio composed the music for the film. The third novel of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s Vampire Hunter D series, Demon Deathchase, inspired the film.
The story begins when vampire nobleman Baron Meier Link allegedly abducts a young human woman named Charlotte Elbourne in the middle of the night from her home. Several days later, Charlotte’s wealthy but sickly father decides to hire a dhampir (a half-human half-vampire) to track down and rescue his daughter – dead (if she’s already been turned into a vampire) or alive. D demands double the reward and Charlotte’s father John agrees.
Charlotte’s older brother Adam doesn’t trust D because he is a dhampir, however, and decides to hire a group of mercenaries called the Marcus Brothers to go after his sister. The colorful mercenary group is composed of their rugged leader Borgoff, the muscle-headed Nolt, the blade master Kyle, the frail/physically bedridden psychic Grove, and a feisty woman named Leila, who has a grudge against vampires.
It becomes a race between D and the Marcus Brothers to see who will get to Charlotte first. However, along the way, they discover that Charlotte wasn’t kidnapped but went with Meier of her own free will because she is in love with Meier. Meier plans to take Charlotte with him to the castle of Countess Carmilla Elizabeth in order to seek sanctuary there. Meier hires a group of powerful mutant Barbarois to guard him and Charlotte on their way to Carmilla’s. The Barbarois group consists of the shapeshifter Caroline, the shadow manipulator Benge and the werewolf Machira.
D encounters the Marcus Brothers and together they end up facing the Barbarois. At first, Leila harbors prejudice against D but when she learns about his past and how he’s saved people from vampires her opinion of him begins to change.
Later, when D is suffering from “Heat Syndrome” and Leila is forced to help him, she tells D about how her mother was kidnapped by a vampire when she was just a kid. When her mother returned she was changed and killed Leila’s father. After that Leila’s vampiric mother was stoned to death by the villagers. Leila joined the Marcus Brothers in order to avenge her parents’ death.
Leila and D make a pact that they will visit each other’s graves upon who dies first. Leila remarks to D that he will likely be the only one at her funeral since dhampirs do not age.
It is later revealed that the reason Meier and Charlotte were traveling to Carmilla’s castle was to get her assistance in fleeing to the City of the Night – a vampire refuge located in space. The only problem is Carmilla might not be as nice as she first appears. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out its epic conclusion!
Reasons to watch Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust include: D is a very interesting, mysterious character with his struggle in being half-vampire half-human, the battle scenes are extremely well done, the star-crossed romance between Charlotte and Meier will tug at your heartstrings, and Carmilla makes for a great terrifying villainess. There are certain illusions that D might in fact be the son of Dracula and a human woman, but this mystery is never really solved within the movie.
Honorable mentions of vampire anime include:
- Vampire Knight (a shojo vampire anime)
- Blood Blockade Battlefront (contains vampire characters and lots of action)
- Blood Lad (a vampire who teams up with a cute ghost girl)
- Shiki (a spooky town where everyone is being turned into vampires)
- JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Phantom Blood (a stone mask that turns people into vampires)
- Kizumonogatari (movie trilogy featuring a vampire queen)
Do you agree with my Top 5 vampire anime picks? Let us know in the comment section below!