Saturday, January 31, 2015


I absolutely love TOMB OF DRACULA, a comic series published by Marvel during the 1970s during a time when the company was interested in more than just superheroes. It's a terrific series that I discussed a little in 2013 HERE, and is well worth searching out.

I love TOMB OF DRACULA, but I don't so much love DRACULA: SOVEREIGN OF THE DAMNED, a Japanese cartoon produced in 1980 under the title "Yami no Teiō: Kyūketsuki Dorakyura," or "Emperor of Darkness: Vampire Dracula." The idea of an anime adaption of TOMB OF DRACULA sounds great on paper, but the reality is a disaster.

In fact, I'm starting to feel guilty about unleashing this 90-minute atrocity on you. So, let me salvage this experience with a little bit of trivia.

I know next to nothing about anime, so the scant bits of trivia on Wikipedia and IMDB didn't mean a lot to me. So, I asked my wife, Sara, who's a longtime fan of Japanese animation. She did a little more digging and found some interesting facts about the cast of DRACULA: SOVEREIGN OF THE DAMNED.

Kenji Utsumi provides the voice of Dracula in the film, and has appeared in everything from FIST OF THE NORTH STAR, which "was one of those things that was super popular because it was available in the U.S. when not much was," to "original recipe" DRAGONBALL. Those are her words, not mine.

"It looks like he was never a superstar, but played an ass ton of supporting and minor roles," she said. "And he was the Japanese voice of Steve McQueen and... Bob Hoskins?  And also John Rhys-Davies in the LORD OF THE RINGS movies."

Sara might not have used a term like "ass ton" is she knew she was going to be quoted (journalism!), but she also pointed out that it's traditional in Japan for one actor to dub all the voice work for particular celebrities.

Mami Koyama, who provided the voice of Rachel Van Helsing in DRACULA: SOVEREIGN OF THE DAMNED, was in AKIRA, DRAGONBALL, etc. Koyama is also the voice of Sharon Stone in Japan, and dubs "Elaine" on SEINFELD.

Sara: "Can you imagine Japanese Seinfeld? WTF do they think the show is about?"

If Dracula looks a little familiar in the animated film, it's not your imagination. When the original TOMB OF DRACULA comic series was launched by Marvel in 1972, artist Gene Colan based his interpretation on Jack Palance. The following year, the actor would actually play the vampire in Dan Curtis' adaption of Bram Stoker's novel.

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