Last week I published a “Covering Comics” article featuring one of my all-time favorite horror comics, Marvel’s The Tomb of Dracula which ran from 1972 to 1979. You can read that article here. One thing that I didn’t note at the time was that there was an animated adaptation of the series, something that even most comics fans aren’t aware of.
Probably a big reason for that is because rather than being developed and released in the US, the movie was actually made by the Toei studio in Japan.
Yep, we’re talking Dracula anime. Well, sort of.
Titled Yami no Teiō: Kyūketsuki Dorakyura or Emperor of Darkness: Vampire Dracula, the animated made-for-Japanese-television movie actually mimics the style of the comic series fairly well, rather than attempting to adapt it to the anime style more familiar to American audiences today. Unfortunately, it also attempts to condense the entire 70 issue series into one 94 minute film. Or, again, sort of.
You see, the real focus of the movie is on the last 20 or so issues of the book which feature Dracula’s struggles with his son Janus and his inevitable destruction. This means that the roles of some of the other characters are inevitably changed, and of course, since it wasn’t intended for an American release, there are certain Japanese cultural touches that are included that likely otherwise wouldn’t have been, such as Quincy Harker making sure that Frank Drake has adequate kung-fu skills.
Nonetheless, in the end, this really isn’t a terrible adaptation of the series, it just really isn’t that good either. Still, it does stand out as a kind of cultural curiosity.
Though as far as I’m aware, the movie has never had an official VHS or disk release in the US, it did enjoy a short run on cable in a dubbed version produced by Harmony Gold under the title Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned, and that’s the version that I’ve embedded for you below. Enjoy!