Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned was a 94-minute TV special that originally aired on Japanese TV on August 19, 1980. The TV special was adapted from Marvel Comics' “Tomb of Dracula” comic book series and was part of a business dealing between Toei and Marvel in the late 1970s where the former gained the rights to make several animated and live-action spins on Marvel Comics characters. The TV special was released on VHS in America in 1983 through Vestron Video and was dubbed by Harmony Gold, whom some older anime fans may know as the company who dubbed the popular 1980s animated mecha series Robotech. The VHS release for Dracula has been long out of print with the tape being very difficult to obtain through legal means.
During a ritual by a Satanic cult to summon the devil, the vampire Dracula steals away their sacrifice in the form of a young woman named Dolores and makes her his wife. Wanting to live his life peacefully with his bride and their child Janus, Dracula finds himself hunted by vampire hunters seeking revenge on him and members of the Satanic cult wanting him killed as punishment for deceiving them in taking Dolores.
Dracula: Sovereign of the Dracula appears to be an attempt at compressing the events of its source material into a 90-minute film, resulting in really sloppy storytelling and rushed pacing of its events.
The major element of the film that was rather confusing was how the title attempted to depict Dracula. Sovereign of the Damned tries making efforts at depicting him as a tragic figure who wanted to live happily with his family, wanted to be left alone and experience life as a mortal man. Yet at the same time, he had no qualms with sucking on the blood of humans or killing others who threaten him and he tries regaining his immortality later in the film when he loses his vampire power.
Other sloppy elements to the film have to do with the implementation of its storytelling. The title's logic with elements to its world get messy, deus ex machina is employed quite often, questionable plot directions take place, certain characters who seem relevant in the film are actually mostly worthless, plot twists occur without any prior foreshadowing and an anti-climactic ending takes place with Dracula's fate. Adding more to this fun mess is that Toei attempts rendering a Western animation style with its character designs, yet this makes them appear more stiff and lifeless in appearance compared to conventional anime designs of the time period.
The English dub for Sovereign of the Damned is also a nice example of the rather low standards of anime voice acting in many 1980s dubs with two different types of acting from the voice cast: either bored and flat acting or over-the-top in an attempt at being dramatic, such as the case with Dracula's dub actor in many of the film's moments. Scenes in the film are also usually accompanied by a narrator who acts just as over-the-top as Dracula in attempting to give Sovereign of the Damned's events any sort of meaning or emotion.