How in the FUCK!? did I never know a 4:3 restored transfer of this existed until now?! To the gentlemen who sent me the information that this transfer exists, I thank you, for I will never, ever have touch the 1985 Japanese master again.
The screencaps above more or less speak for themselves. The German transfer's 16:9 ratio is unforgivable and the source print seems to have overemphasized both shadow detail and reds, making the whole transfer look too pink and washed out... but see all that wrinkly crap affixing itself to Doris' boobs on the German print? That's a film splice, and it isn't on the Italian print, so at least some of the problems found in the German transfer's color timing is the fault of whoever struck their new film print. It's still no excuse for the cropping, though... there will never be any proper excuse for that.
The Italian master seems very dark. At first that sounds like a good thing, but there are shadow details present on the German transfer that are sucked right into the inky blacks of the Italian transfer. The Italian encode is also rough around the edges, with a lot of minor compression artifacts on fast motion and some edge ringing. It's certainly a thousand times better than the milky gray LD era nightmare Sony, Manga and Urban Vision have shat upon the world, but it's not quite a title I'd reach for when thinking of reference titles, either.
There are unique problems with each transfer, based on the files I've had a chance to play around with; the Italian transfer crushed the black levels to avoid noise in shadows, while the German transfer boosted saturation to avoid noise in vivid colors. The German transfer also seems to have been stabilized quite dramatically, but the Italian transfer has more natural film grain - at least when the compression doesn't blur all of it away. OVA Films clearly tried to remaster Vampire Hunter D... they just fucked it up miserably. Meanwhile Yamato Video tried to present the materials in their original state, they just don't know how to encode worth a damn. The two of them are equal halves of a whole idiot, but the fact that - with any luck, at least - I'll soon have my hands on BOTH transfers can only mean one thing...
Vampire Hunter D's 25th anniversary just might to be the year that the Dhampir Hunter finally gets his proper DVD dues from Kentai Films.