DVD Dance In The Vampire Mund
Based on Nozomu Tamaki’s manga of the same name, Dance In The Vampire Bund is a supernatural tale of monsters and romance, produced by SHAFT Animation Studios and directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, one of the studio’s favoured directors, whose works include Metal Fighter Miku and Starship Girl.
The series opens with a news report of a vampire attack, which is soon revealed to be a feature of a popular Japanese television programme, Scales Of Astraea. The main focus of which is a televised debate, sparked by recent events, about whether or not vampires really exist. It is at this debate that the audience is unwittingly introduced to one of the series’ central characters, Mina Tepeş (Aoi Yuki) descendant of Vlad Tepeş, more commonly known as Vlad the Impaler (or Dracula), and Princess-Ruler of the entire vampire race, albeit no bigger than a child. After a public and unprecedented revelation of their existence on Japanese TV, the vampires disclose their plans to purchase a large islet borough off Japan’s coast in order to create a safe realm for vampires in which they can live freely and independently: The Vampire Bund.
The focus of the narrative soon moves to a prestigious high school, and one of its students in particular, Akira (Yuichi Nakamura), who is a werewolf of the Earth Clan, but has recently lost all memory of his true identity as the personal bodyguard and sworn protector of Princess Mina. Inevitably, events soon conspire to slowly but surely return Akira’s memory to him, and he resumes his former post, assisting the princess in her endeavour to establish her vampire haven, which, for some reason, includes her matriculation at Akira’s school.
As Princess Mina continues to openly execute her plans, she begins to fall victim to all manners of assassination attempts by human and vampire forces alike, and her relations with the Japanese government become more problematic, as she is continuously refused support for her building project.
Things take a much more interesting turn mid-way through the series when the school becomes flooded with vampires, and Akira and the rest of the country begin to question the intentions of Princess Mina, and whether or not they can trust her. Events continue with an unexpected and climactic outcome, threatening the lives of Akira and his classmates, as well as that of Princess Mina and all she is working to achieve.
Amidst this chaos and other new dangers, often from within the vampire community, Akira must strive to fully remember the details of his past, all the while growing closer to Princess Mina and rediscovering the deep yet unrealised love they bear for one another…
The plot of this story remains somewhat interesting without over-complicating itself, as is the tendency of many other animes. There are many interesting ideas and sub-plots, not to mention some refreshing perspectives on the over-exhausted topic of vampires. Princess Mina describes a long-standing involvement in human affairs by vampires, who have been building and investing in properties and paying off some of Japan’s largest debts in order to ensure the approval needed for construction of the bund. It is also suggested that vampires are, in fact, responsible for the world’s perception of their lifestyle and culture, and a novel concept of fangless vampires who have chosen to remove their fangs and live without human-blood is also introduced. The relationship between Akira and Princess Mina signifies another original idea in vampire lore; that is to say, the unprecedented harmonious alliance between vampires and werewolves, pitted against each other as mortal enemies in most other corners of monster folklore.
The animation, like most of that produced in Japan, is above par and without fault.
Still, these new and refreshing ideas do not entirely redeem the plot, which, at times, becomes slow and monotonous, heavy with too much preparation and politics and not enough action. The narration, too, is often dull and, on occasion, even tedious. There is also the occasional introduction of a seemingly significant character or sub-plot, which is never fully disclosed or fulfilled, perhaps in an attempt to build anticipation for the next series. While the series is successful in keeping one’s attention until a somewhat anti-climactic conclusion, it is not particularly compelling, and fails to leave any discerningly memorable impressions.
The animation, like most of that produced in Japan, is above par and without fault. The use of detail and colour, particularly in relation to the supernatural characters, who are vibrant and fluid, is bold and creative, albeit with, perhaps, one too many anatomic close-ups and short slo-mo shots. Although not unprecedented in anime, the emphasis on the female anatomy is unnecessary and borders on pornographic, while the constant display of a barely clothed, child-like Princess Mina truly pushes the boundaries of how much prepubescent nudity can be tolerated on television in modern culture. Still, the animation stands as one of the series saving graces.
Like the plot, the characters, while well-developed and without any tangible fault, also fail to leave any impression, with the exception of everyone’s obvious and memorable beauty. Akira’s classically conventional conflicted hero persona is nicely contrasted by the mysterious and relatively unpredictable nature of the Vampire Princess. Nevertheless, none of the other characters are able to transcend the limits of mediocrity, and the two main characters only just manage to hold the story together.
This is an entertaining anime, with likeable characters and an easily digestible storyline. There are some original ideas in regards to vampire practices and in the unfulfilled love story between Akira and Mina. Unfortunately, the series fails to maintain a consistent level of excitement and, thus, fails to make any lasting impact.
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