Saturday, October 28, 2017

Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Review

Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Review

Warning: The following review may/will contain spoilers of the series Katsugeki Touken Ranbu. If you wish to stay clear of what happens in the show's story, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched said show. Or, you know, you can take that warning with a grain of salt, and still read on anyway. Whatever floats your boat.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

Touken Ranbu is something that I've heard about, seen gameplay of, seen fanart of, and watched this action-oriented anime from Ufotable of (duh), but I haven't actually played it yet. I do know that it's a big phenomenon over in Japan, with a ton of collectible sword boys in game that come in many types and flavors, a look into Japanese history that some probably didn't pay attention to (though I am fascinated by what I've heard so far), and in real time, helping the Japanese government fund restorations of the real-life swords. There is so much dedication and love here that it makes my fanboy heart swell with pride.

Now I'm going to reiterate points made when I briefly discussed this show in my update post back in August. I've only really talked about Touken Ranbu with the same online friend who pushed me towards Haikyuu in the Facebook group I've been in for a while now. Favorite characters, fanart, and just plain freaking out: that's what typically goes on. And while I was curious to see this anime while it was airing, I was too focused on Sin: Nanatsu no Taizai finishing in order to get to it at the first possible second. Plus, I was still unsure if I wanted to start with Hanamaru, the slice-of-life comedy based adaptation.

Well, here comes AnimeIowa with the promise that this is screening on Saturday. Shall we do it, Dazz? We shall. I was able to catch the ends of Episodes 1 and 4, plus the entire Episode 2. Enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would, I decided to give it a chance right after the convention ended.  I need sword boys in my life, I need something to fanboy about in my life, and I need to see if clothes get damaged or torn on male characters once in a while in my life.

What? I've seen Awakening stuff in in-game art. It's pretty hot, if you ask me.


So after a college visit one day with just me and my dad, I sat down to give this anime the full treatment it deserved. I then followed up with the rest that had aired that week, which led into Episode 6 airing that Saturday, and me having to watch it weekly. What did I find?

A fanboy's wet dream, that's what.

Kidding, kidding. Or am I?

Anyways, this was my Haikyuu this year. I was fully engaged in literally everything this anime had to offer. While there were slight problems in the storytelling and some of these characters probably didn't act with as much clarity as their game counterpoints, I WAS STILL HAVING THE TIME OF MY LIFE! This anime could shoot a big fat Deus ex machina with a bow and arrow into the fray and I'd still be like, "THIS IS A MASTERPIECE! THE BEST ANIME EVER MADE! ANIME OF THE YEAR! ANIME OF THE SEASON!"

Oh, wait, they did that, didn't they? Whoops.

Regardless, I liked learning about more boys I hadn't heard about yet, saying hi to familiar faces I've seen around the internet, how the story progressed, the unit shifts (even though I'm more into The Second Unit), the glorious animation, the cinematic OST, the voice acting. I could go on and on and on and on about this show and it'll probably never get old.


Time to move on to the show's story before I accidentally excite myself into shock:


In the game world, you, the player, take on the role of Saniwa (translated to sage), who is able to travel to the past and animate legendary swords, who take on the form of beautiful young men (who, again, come in many different styles and flavors, from cute to STEAMING HOT). While Saniwa's gender can be up to the user (from what I've seen of Hanamaru, Saniwa's addressed by gender neutral pronouns), this version's Saniwa is a young boy (voiced by Junko Minagawa, no less). Though he does have projection prowess of his own, he is able to send Touken Danshi (Sword Warriors) into the past to fight the Time Retrograde Army, who plan to alter the course of history no matter the cost. These sword boys are in charge of protecting it, as expected.

As I liked to joke throughout this show's run, that's history for ya!

As there are a buttload of sword boys and it would be too much of a hassle to include them all, the production team decided to pick 12 men (six to a unit, as there's Unit 1 and Unit 2) to focus on. Mainly, we get to see the second unit and how they work together. Horikawa Kunihiro, who has recently manifested into a human form, reunites with his friend and comrade, Izuminokami Kanesada, who served under the same master as him (Hijikata Toshizo for anyone curious). Transported to 1863, the two work together on the latest threat before Unit 2 is officially BERN.

With Mutsunokami Yoshiyuki, Yagen Toshiro, Tonbokiri, and Tsurumaru Kuninaga (whose, to the surprise of no one, the last to join), it's time to buckle up and kick the Time Retrograde Army's ass! And with Kanesada in the lead, surely nothing can go wrong, right?

When a mission nearly goes awry and the Second Unit, backed to a wall, is forced to retreat, Kanesada begins thinking: Is protecting history worth the cost when more innocent lives are put on the line? And when the swords are transported to a time where Sakamoto Ryoma and Hijikata Toshizo once thrived, how does one react upon being face to face with their former master? Would they want to continue sending them to their doom? Or would they want to save them?

Also, let's see Unit 1 kick ass, because that's where it's at! Let the senpai show you how it's done!

This question becomes incredibly important when Horikawa up and disappears from the Second Unit's base of operations when the group is fabulously teleported to the Keiou era (starting in 1866, as it extends beyond that. Since the sword boys are probably immortal and hella fierce, they don't age). And when that Sword Warrior wants to save his master for his dear comrade's sake, things get even more shaky. Can Unit 2 be able to reunite on the battlefield in one piece without the drastic change in Japan's timeline? Or are we in deep s**t?

Like I mentioned in the introduction, this anime's story isn't 100% A+ perfect. Aside from the clarity issues, the pacing is a bit slow in the beginning and it takes a bit for the Second Unit to finish their first mission as a whole.

Also, for those wanting to see more of the sword boys, you'll only get 15 on screen outside of cameos. And when we get a look at this version's Citadel, there's plenty of boys running around.


But even with the story's obvious faults, THE ATTACHMENT FACTOR MAKES UP FOR IT IN TENFOLD! BOI!








*coughs heavily*

I don't need to rekindle my thoughts, do I? Basically, I loved this show and want to take it home with me once the US sets come out no matter the cost and I want to cradle them in my arms and I want to whisper, "You are well-loved, you hear me? You changed my life and made me want to explore more of the sword and GODDAMN IT DO I WANT TO BE BURIED WITH YOU! LIKE GURL YAS MORE ANIME MEN PLEASE! I'D LIKE TO SEE A LITTLE MORE SKIN NEXT TIME, BUT YOU'RE AMAZING BEYOND THAT! YOU'RE THE PERFECT DATE MATERIAL! YOU'RE-"

*breathes slowly until perfectly calm*

Let's move on to the characters then.


It's obvious I don't know about half of the swords in this franchise. After watching this series, I can say that I at least know 20 of them. Knowing a few of the sword boys or being familiar with Touken Ranbu in itself is probably the best way to go into both Hanamaru and Katsugeki. In fact, maybe just doing a read-up on the franchise and on some Japanese history would do you good.

Then again, from someone who didn't do that, I came out just fine. I did go to a TR themed panel at San Japan and find out more background stuff (I even found a mini Iwatooshi plush that Luke ended up buying for me), plus watched Bakumatsu Rock a few years back, and having those connections did help in the back half of the series.

But I'm going off topic here. We're here for one thing only and that's to talk about some of the lovely sword boys that I didn't know about, had seen only briefly on the internet via fanart varying from oh look so cute to EROTIC, or had known for a while and already loved.

We'll get to you, Tsurumaru. I'm sorry to spoil the surprise, but we have others before you.

Unit 2's captain Izuminokami Kanesada is up first:

Kanesada is probably the only man thus far out of any anime I've seen who has made long hair look absolutely fabulous. Though I haven't seen a lot of them with long hair, yeah, this guy's going to hold the podium for a long time.

Crafted by a member from the eleventh generation of the Kanesada family, Kane was used prominently in the Ashikaga era, running from 1337 to 1573. Used by Hijikata Toshizo (his counterpart, despite appearing less in this anime, is actually more interesting than the one we got in Bakumatsu Rock. He's not a complete bore), the vice-commander of the Shinsegumi, he looked for a Kanesada to craft this sword to make it similar to his wakizashi (who's Horikawa Kunihiro, so no wonder they both have black hair and care for each other).

The saying goes that Kane holds some regret because he wasn't used in Hijikata's last battle in Hakodate. Instead, the vice-commander had him shipped back to his hometown along with a recent photo of himself. It's really heartbreaking to not be present when a master dies (I feel for these boys), but I do think Hijikata wanted to keep the sword preserved because he felt he was going to perish. Regardless, most of Kane's mannerisms are based off of his former master.

This was a character that made me go "Who's this?" before I even watched the anime. I then found out that he was voiced by Ryohei Kimura in Japanese shortly after, and got behind him immediately. But seeing him in action sealed the deal. I ended up liking this appointed leader more than I expected. Kanesada goes through a good deal of moral dilemmas regarding the protection of history as well as seeing his former master, and it's interesting to see how he deals with them. Sure, there's some moping and angst, but it's better than seeing characters take charge when they're in distress. You know how that turns out.

But when these situations happen, this sword boy makes sure to dust off his shoulders and comes back better than ever. He cares for his unit members, and he's definitely one of the reasons why they work as well as they do. Go, Kane! Go, go, go, Kane!

Let's move on to Horikawa:



Another character that I didn't hear about prior to this anime, Horikawa comes from the swordsmith Horikawa Kunihiro, who made two other swords that I'm aware of (another one will be talked about in this review later on, while one won't appear here at all). He also belonged to Hijikata, plus was left behind before the Battle of Hakodate. Horikawa has a strong kinship with Kanesada, having served the same master and fought by his side, and works best when working together with him. Though it's not shown as much here, he does try to imitate or impress him, so much so that an official tweet claimed him to be akin to a wife. So some of the creators clearly do ship it.

Mystery shrouds the sword's legitimacy, as Kunihiro was believed to have only made them measuring 60 centimeters. However, Horikawa measured at least one less. That with the fact that Horikawa's model wasn't as common in the Bakumatsu period, he is considered to be a fake. He is also a sword that may not even exist today, as after World War II and following a disarmament political measure, the Japanese government gathered up about 200,000 swords and dumped them into the ocean. Some were recovered, but others weren't. Horikawa is likely one of them.

Ah, historical facts. Some may hate them, but I've always had a soft spot for social studies and the world's history.

BUT MOVING ON. Horikawa is precious. He cares a lot for Kanesada, so much so that he slips away from the Second Unit to try to save his former master's life. He's incredibly selfless and pretty strong, and it's nice to see him fight without his trusty partner by his side all of the time. Definitely not my favorite character from this series, but the fact that he cares so much for his partner, that he goes against the master's orders to try to save Hijikata's life, just to make Kanesada see that it could be possible, warms my heart. Also, he cute.

Time to talk about Mutsunokami:

I first heard about this character through Mazjojo. Not a SFW illustration, but a censored NSFW reward for his Patreon. You can find the uncensored set on the dark corners of the internet, but just be warned that it's DIRTY.

Mutsunokami was made by the swordsmith of the same name, and was most prominent in the Bakumatsu period. He was used by Ryoma Sakamoto (who y'all probably know from his adaptation in Bakumatsu Rock, though here he's voiced by Daisuke Ono). He was one of the prime members of the Meiji Restoration against the Shinsegumi during this period, and it doesn't end happily like in BR. Whereas two of the adapted boys join the main group, here they don't (the head commander still dies, though). Acting mainly on his own, Ryoma was exposed to many Western ideals thanks to working as an assistant to Katsu Kashu, the commissioner of the Tokugawa navy, who the former actually tried to assassinate at first, and was able to unite the Satsuma and Choshu clans for an alliance, even though the two clans hated each other.

Common belief is that Ryoma died with Mutsunokami in his hands after being caught off-guard when he and his close friend, Nakaoka Shintaro, were killed at Ikedaya Inn. When Ryoma tried to reach for his sword as a reflex (rather than his gun), the assassin cut though the sheath so that he couldn't use it. Something meta does come up in this series, but I'm not going to spoil it because it will blow some of your minds.

Since Ryoma was born in Tosa, Mutsunokami has an dialect, and also uses a pistol in battle occasionally outside of his sword due to Ryoma using one himself. Also, thank new ideas from the West.

MUTSUNOKAMI IS SUCH A CINNAMON BUN! He is quite cocky and very clearly does not get along with Kanesada (the exact reason is unclear, but I think it has to do with their similar personalities. They put their differences aside for a few episodes, though), and he's also a bit arrogant. Since he does have skills with a pistol (and at the time he was prominent, it was a new discovery in Japan), he's confident in using it and thinks it can be more effective in facing off enemies than a sword. He'll still use his sword, but the rifle is just more handy to him. That's understandable.

OUTSIDE OF THAT, THIS BOY IS THE PUREST THING EVER! He gets excited about EVERYTHING. From getting a chance to chow down (especially if it's on daifuku), to seeing a steamship, to getting to steer a steamship, to bond with his unit, HE'S JUST TOO SWEET! HE CARES SO MUCH AND HE HAS LAYERS AND HE'S SO BEAUTIFUL AND I WANT TO ADOPT HIM! OKAY? NO ONE GETS TO BE THIS CUTE! NO ONE!


*clears throat*

Wait, I don't need to do that. I'm just going to fanboy about the next character anyways, who is none other than Tsurumaru Kuninaga:

Ah, he's just as beautiful farther back. This boy first came to me from searching up this franchise in the first place and looking at his fanart.


Wow, what trash am I, right? #humanwastebin, and don't expect that to go away because it's my new favorite thing.

ANYWAYS, Tsurumaru has a long and detailed history with many masters and rumors. I would make a Rumor Has It pun, but I doubt it's appropriate. Forged around the Heian era by the swordsmith Gojou Kuninaga, he first ended up in the hands of a 14-year old boy from the Adachi Clan named Sadayasu. After getting killed with the rest of his clan in the Shimotsuki Incident (though he ended up in that situation thanks to bad luck), Tsurumaru was dug out of the boy's grave by another young teen, this time Hojo Sadatoki, who just so happened to be the regent who gave the orders to exterminate the Adachi Clan. Awkward.

Believed to have stayed with the young boy at the time as a way to cope with the loss of his previous master, the sword stayed with the Hojo Clan until Sadatoki's son, Takatoki, was beaten in battle by Nitta Yoshisada. which overthrew the Clan's rule of the Kamakura shogunate. After they were officially annihilated, Tsurumaru was shortly presented to Oda Nobunaga, given to Akechi Mitsuhide's retainer (Mimaki Kagenori), having it taken to the battlefield by his son in 1600, getting lost before finding a resting place at the Fushimi Fujimori Shrine, before being taken away from the shrine by Koudeki from the Honami family, who was infatuated with the sword's beauty.

Perhaps this is why Tsurumaru, as a person, like surprises and mischief. He had such a turbulent life, being passed from master to master, that this is his way of coping with it. Also hating boredom, Tsurumaru tries to bring his fun personality onto the battlefield as well, which is actually pretty cool to watch. I MEAN, HE WAITS FOR THE TIME RETROGRADE ARMY WHILE SITTING AT ONE POINT!


I think my previous knowledge of Tsurumaru caused me to really like seeing him in action. He's the last one to arrive for Unit 2, showing up at the end of Episode 4. I didn't really care, since I had great characters up to that point, but I WAS SO HYPED FOR TSURUMARU! Of course he made a fabulous entrance, and of course he ended up being my favorite character from this anime. Aside from being really entertaining and lovable, he's a great addition to the Second Unit. Aside from just having THE TIME OF HIS LIIIIIIFE in battle, Tsurumaru has a softer side as well, and the two do balance each other out pretty well.

He's also pretty much me in terms of energy and spirit wherever I go, because believe it or not I do have a OMG YAS MUST DO EVERYTHING side to me (like many others). It's a goal of mine to eventually cosplay as him so my state as a "dank meme" can be complete. Maybe next year?

Oh, wait, no. Definitely next year. This'll be fun after Grell, Ranmaru, and Honey.

It's now time to jump to the First Unit, starting with another iconic character I knew about before I watched this, Mikazuki:

JIJI! HELLO! HOW ARE YOU? Everyone likes to call you Jiji because you are one of the five great swords of Japan, plus you were crafted WAY earlier than the other ones mentioned, You've seen a lot, haven't you?

First seen in fanfiction (Kogitsunemaru x Mikazuki fanfic to be precise, and the former does make a cameo here), this "old man" was made in 989 by Sanjo Munechika, a well-known craftsman from the mid-Heian period. Representative of swords with the Sanjo build, he was regarded as what I mention earlier during the Muromachi era, which lasted from 1392-1573. So this guy has clearly seen the big picture. And I swear, his scars are fine. He stayed with the Tokugawa shogun starting in the 1600s until modern times

Design-wise, there are two noteworthy things about him that I just found out and think are really cool. So I'll tell them here. On his sword, Mikazuki has Uchinoke, which is crescent moon-shaped. In tune with his name (which literally means crescent moon. See it now?), it also represents his swordsmith's prowess. On his clothing, there is sayagata, a pattern of interlocking manji. Originating in India, where it was often applied to Buddhist architecture, it was introduced to Japan following imported textiles from China during the Tensho era. Associated with strength, it is known to appear most often on the clothing of strong characters, whether they are heroes or villains. And Mikazuki's pretty strong.

Otherwise nonchalant and chill when not fighting off the Time Retrograde Army, Mikazuki seems like the older sibling who wants to know what the youngsters are up to these days. I respect that. At times witty and breezy, Mikazuki also has a secret punch to him since he is so highly regarded and one of the older swords. Seeing him in action is awesome, everyone in the fandom adores him, and he's just so relaxed that I can't help but be drawn to this sword boy. He may say things some won't understand, because again, he's older, but his beauty and personality are so nice you just want them to show up in other areas of your life.

You know, the ones where you don't feel like stress is going to come knocking on your door on a weekend night. Just relax, take some deep breaths, and Mikazuki doth appear in your body.

Not psychically, of course. Like...spiritually. Ah, you get my point.

Last but certainly not least, it's time to talk about the captain of Unit 1, Yamanbagiri:

This is the other Kunihiro sword I hinted at (I couldn't call one Kunihiro because then confusion would exist), and another sword in their entirety I found out about through Mazjojo NSFW art. WOOT WOOT!

Wait, is that a good thing?

Yamanbagiri was crafted by Horikawa Kunihiro during the Azuchi Momoyama period. A replica of another nihontou, also called Yamanbagiri, this sword typically likes to wear a white cloak to hide himself, stating that he is no good only because he is a copy. The funny thing is, his swordsmith was asked to make a replica of the Yamanbagiri nihontou by Nagao Akinaga, who was then the lord of Ashikaga Castle. The latter wanted a nihontou that was just as spectacular as the original Yamanbagiri, because according to legend, the first was able to kill a mountain witch named Yamanba. And since giri is one way to say to cut in Japanese, that's where the name comes from.

Despite being a replica, the sword is said to be very beautiful. Measuring 70.6 centimeters and privately owned, it it Horikawa's best work. Some argue that since it's so pretty and a work of art, Yamanbagiri's status as a duplicate should be revoked. Time will tell whether this happens, though.

It's clear that Yamanbagiri's thoughts on being a "replica" will be on prime display in Hanamaru, but we do get a glimpse of it here when someone from Nitroplus penned Episode 7 and everyone went ballistic. Except me, who was just like, "Okay. The tone's slightly different. I've never played the game, but is this episode written by someone who has more knowledge of these characters than the main staff of writers do?"

Regardless, I liked Yamanbagiri. He's pretty cool and pretty (though he doesn't like being called pretty), and I do like his approach at being captain compared to Kanesada. It is strong leadership, but drawn back a bit, which makes sense given his personality (no one look at me I'm nothing I'm worthless I'm just a duplicate). Also, since Unit 1 has been together longer than Unit 2 has (aside from the addition of Honebami Toshiro), that plays into it too. They're comrades, nakama, whatever you want to call it, and since they've been fighting together for a while, they have a better bond.


Other characters include the rest of Unit 2, where we have Tonbokiri (BARA DADDY), and Yagan Toshiro (who everyone loves except me. He's still cool, though), the rest of Unit 1, where we have Honebami Toshiro (precious snow child), Higekri and Hizamaru (amigas, cheetahs, bros for life), and Oodenta Mitsuyo (I am thunder HEAR ME RAWR), cameos of Kogisunemaru, Mitsutada, and Ookurikara, the master of all the boys, Saniwa (though the master in general can also be referred to as the Saniwa), Konnosuke and the First Unit's Konnosuke, and the representations of Ryoma Sakamoto and Hijikata Toshizo.


The animation for this series was produced by Ufotable, who are also known for their work on Fate/Zero, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works (or otherwise known as Unlimited Budget Works thanks to the fans), and the Tales of Zestiria the X franchise.

Everyone ADORES Ufotable. Praised for their godly production values and just general prettiness, they've become a household name. This was my first experience with them, and I was looking forward to see what would come out of this production. After all, we have so many beautiful sword boys and action to get rolling out the runway.

Well, I'm happy to say that this delivered. All of the Unit 2 boys were designed by different characters designers, but there isn't any difference. They all look like they're from the same anime rather than scattered throughout multiple shows, which is nice. Each episode has money poured into every inch of it, from gorgeous looking fight scene choreography, beautiful CGI that should not exist, the most realistic looking backgrounds I have ever seen from an anime series, and THE GODDAMN LIGHTING! YAS SLAY ME UFOTABLE WITH YOUR PILES AND PILES OF CASH AND DEDICATION! YAS!

But I expected nothing less from you in the end, Ufotable. Some may complain that your stories don't turn out well, but they lose their s**t when your animation appears on the screen. Me, liking both, collectively lost my s**t everywhere. Well done, you.


The score for this series was composed by Hideyuki Fukasawa, who is also known for working on video games such as Chaos Legion, the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 games, and Street Fighter X Tekken, as well as scores for shows like Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works, Flowers of Evil, and Vividred Operation.

Looking up Fukasawa, I was immediately appealed to his resume. I have seen and played a bit of the two fighting games mentioned above (my library used to have the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 version, and that was my shite), so I was familiar with him and his work, just not in anime. He has impressed me in the past, and he impressed me here. I didn't even need to worry.

The best part about the score for this show is how immersive it is. It's filled with subtle instrumental textures that call back the eras of time the swords come from/travel to, epic swells when the fighting swords come out, fun electronic numbers, and beautiful orchestration. It plops you right into the setting and makes you feel like you're there with the boys. It's cool and made me feel like I was in a video game, which didn't surprise me when I found out what the composer had for his works.

Voice acting wise, there was also much to love. There's a good mix of seiyuus that I've heard of, along with others that were new to me. It provided a good balance of favorites and ones on their way to becoming them. Kento Hama made an adorable Mutsunokami, Junko Minagawa made a bomb AF Saniwa, Soma Saito voiced a character that I liked upon first sight (Yamaguchi took a few episodes to grow on me in Haikyuu), and all of the cameos made me smile despite not knowing as much about their characters (the historical figures count in that equation too). All around, it seemed like everyone was having fun, and so did I.

I'm not exactly sure what Aniplex is planning for the official release over here in terms of a dub, since FUNimation has the rights to Hanamaru and gave it a Broadcast Dub, but we'll just have to wait and see. It'll be interesting to see the talents from LA putting their spin on the characters that have already gotten life in Texas, though Vic Mignogna will come back as Mikazuki if he's in LA at the time of recording.

Highlights are Ryohei Kimura, Junya Enoki, Kento Hama, Soma Saito, Tooru Sakurai, Seiichiro Yamashita, Junko Minagawa, Takuma Nagatsuka, Tomoaki Maeno, Kosuke Toriumi, Yuto Suzuki, Daisuke Namikawa, Natsuki Hanae, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Noriaki Sugiyama, Daisuke Ono, Tetsu Inada, Takashi Kondo, Takuya Sato, and Makoto Furukawa.


This is probably the most unprofessional and fanboy-filled review I have ever written, but yet, I have no regrets. Katsugeki Touken Ranbu gave me something fun and eventful every week, causing me to experience all of the emotions possible in 13 episodes. It's a fanboy/girl paradise, and despite having a few problems, I can easily overlook them because ERRRMAAAAHHHGAWWWWWD THIS WAS AMAZING AND EVERYTHING I NEVER KNEW I NEEDED THIS YEAR!

I was helped by the friend mentioned in the introduction with writing the Characters section, as she supplied me with a great Tumblr page detailing the sword boys' backstories in one convenient place. Since it turned out to be pretty interesting, take a look if this franchise compels you.

Anyways, this is recommended to fans of the game or the guys, and if you're new to Touken Ranbu in general, I'd say start with this instead of Hanamaru. You won't be overwhelmed by as many swords.

Score: 10/10 


Great story.

Fabulous characters.


Beautiful animation.

Immersive score.

Good voice acting.


Weaknesses of the series are canceled out by all of the positives.


None major.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Diabolik Lovers Review

Diabolik Lovers Review

Warning: The following review may/will contain spoilers for the first season of Diabolik Lovers. If you wish to stay clear of what happens in the show's story, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched said show. Or, you know, you can take that warning with a grain of salt, and still read on anyway. Whatever floats your boat.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

Inner Ranter: Okay. Dazz, I have a question for you.

Of course, Inner Ranter. Do proceed.


Oh, child, please calm down. We wouldn't want you to turn into Subaru, now do we? I'll explain everything once you do that. Here, have a chill pill.

Inner Ranter: *breathes slowly a few times and takes the offered chill pill*

All right, so this has been another long journey for an anime series I heard about, but didn't make an effort to watch for a while. Like Sin: Nanatsu no Taizai, this show stood out because it's, again, trashy. But unlike the aforementioned show, this franchise has existed for much longer.

I caught murmurs of this when it was airing in the fall of 2013, but the first time I heard about it was from 42believer, who uploaded a video titled 42 Things Wrong with Diabolik Lovers (shameless plug), a parody of Cinema Sins in which she jokingly (well, probably not for this one) goes over items that bothered her in a specific anime series. This video was over the first half of DL, and that's where the unholy poop came from the cloudy sky and fell into my lap.

Eventually, I would take the opportunity to sit down and watch this show. Why? I'm #trash for pretty boys and reverse harems, and even though this sounded hella sketchy and hella problematic, I would be here for the good times. Aside from unexpected enjoyment and maybe needles in the haystack, I should never give up on them. The Spice Girls taught me that.

Fast forward through a dub announcement, a second season, and Dub Talk podcasts discussing this show at length (with many iconic lines, here's another shameless plug), I was sold. How did I get this show in my hands? San Japan, where me and Luke purchased it on an impulse.

Why did I get a show I haven't seen with money pulled from the bank thanks to my income from working when I haven't done it before? Well, there were two factors.

1. Chris Patton, the English VA for Ayato, was a guest at the con, and after going to his panel and seeing more of his wonderful personality, the two of us figured we should get something for him to sign aside from our giant Sentai Filmworks pre-registration bags and our programs.

2. We decided that we should really, really watch this anime because we heard so much about it from the internet, our friends, and from our minds that we knew it would be an entertaining thrill ride.

Ready to rumble, we set off on our journey into the diabolic paradise that awaited us with-

Oh, wait. That's the wrong show. Okay, rewind.

Ready to rumble, we set off on our journey into the house of hellish vampires that were hungry for our blood.

So, what did I think of this trash can gem? Did it satisfy my craving, or did it give me a little more than I asked for (in a good way, mind you. I wasn't expecting a lot to begin with anyway)?

Well, Diabolik Lovers gave me exactly what I wanted. Aside from its good parts (the animation and OST), I managed to get such a kick out of everything that happened in this anime that it basically became a joy to watch. The story may have been flimsy as a shoelace and the characters may not have been developed well in the slightest (more of their backstories are on Wikipedia, but knowing me they'll be here as well), but I was still incredibly enthusiastic about digging deeper into this show.

In the end, this was a beautiful masterpiece and catastrophic travesty all in one, and I couldn't have been more fortunate to watch it. You know, despite me reacting like this:

And this:

It's one of those series that's more memorable because of what's wrong with it. But there's so much joy to be found in here.

What kind of joy? Well, let's clarify:


Yui Komori, on request by her father, is delivered to a mansion in The Middle of Nowhere, Japan. The latter, being a priest, has work overseas (or so is claimed), and since Yui is still too young to live on her own, the move is planned. Once Yui arrives, it starts to rain, which only serves as foreshadowing to the dark underbelly of the beast she has fallen into.

After one of the mansion's doors opens on its own, no one seems to be there to greet her. Confused, Yui turns right, only to discover a beautiful young man on the couch...with no pulse. Worried, Yui tries to call for someone, but a hand clasps her pink flip phone. It turns out the man on the couch is actually alive, but why? After all, he has no measure of living, right?

Well, once Yui meets five other bishies, it turns out that the lot of them are half-brothers called the Sakamakis. Yui was delivered to their door in order to become their next "sacrificial bride," because after Yui trips and scrapes her knee, it turns out that the Sakamakis are actually vampires. Horrified, Yui tries to find a way to escape, but to no avail. With no way to contact the outside world after Subaru broke her phone, she is stuck in the mansion, has to go to night school, is relegated to a push-over who can do squat, and becomes a chew toy for 6 hot yet troubled boys.

But there are still secrets steaming under the surface. Why Yui over another mortal girl? Does Yui's father know where his daughter is? And better yet, why these sudden chest pains? As Yui explores the pool of men and learns little snippets from their childhoods, a distant relative returns to use Yui as a vessel to awaken a former lover, who just so happens to be one of the boy's mothers. Awkward.

Will Yui be able to get out of this hell hound? And will at least one of these boys treat her semi-nicely, my god?

Well, no and no. The episodes for this show only run for over half the length of a typical episode, so anything deep, meaningful, and regarding development only runs surface level. While the plot line regarding The Awakening is pretty interesting, it has no pay-off and ends in an anticlimactic fashion because the writers don't really flesh it out. After all, we have a bite scene quota to fill for most of the 15 minute run-time!

Okay, I kid. They're not in every episode, but most of the time, they just pop up and it's like, "Well, we don't really have anything else to pad into this episode, so here. Let's let Guy C bite Yui in her bedroom. Marvelous!"

This story is so incoherent that it's hilarious. While we have foreshadowing to the second half and sinister undertones, the show, because it's a reverse harem, decides to focus on the boys one by one because that's why we're really in over our heads. All of them have some sadism or masochism inside of them, but the writers don't dig deeper into why they're this way aside from subtle hints you can only catch if you've read up on each boy's backstory. It's incredibly weird when the show switches from the SC (series composition)/head writer to the other writer because the material dumbs down even further, so much so that Episode 6 has a weird transition from the end of Episode 5 that it gave me whiplash.

It also doesn't help when your protagonist is as spineless as Yui is. She's not written badly when the show starts, but as it goes on, she gets progressively worse. It's like the fact that she's a plot device couldn't get out of the heads of the writers and so she becomes such. I mean, good on them for establishing that from the beginning (I couldn't say the same for Ritsuka), but it's still annoying to see her constantly make really bad choices.

Back to that build up, it's at least constant and the tone never shifts from its dreariness (compared to Sin: Nanatsu no Taizai), and there were moments when this show had me on the edge of my seat, such as when Cordelia was starting to give Yui more hints that she was emerging by showcasing the past of our 6 love interests and the latter starting to get heat pains and headaches. But I never got a full pay-off in between blood-sucking scenes and times where this show SLOGGED. Because despite the shorter run-time, that did happen. And that was sad.

Now you're probably wondering through all of this serious rambling where the good elements of this story come in. After all, where would they be, since I just spent 5 paragraphs bashing the hell out of this plot?

WELL, YOU'RE IN LUCK! Because here they are, right here, right now. 

Simply, and I'm sure you've guessed this from a mile away, I was highly entertained throughout the entire run of this show. I even re-watched all of the episodes (plus sat through the boring recap) to make sure I didn't miss anything while watching this series, because there were so many moments that were absolutely AMAZING.

Let's go over some of the highlights that I wrote down on the Notes app in my phone. The section is titled Points of Amusement in Diabolik Lovers.

*clears throat*

All right, so in the first episode, when Yui first encounters Ayato, he pulls her up on the couch with the intent of sucking her blood after she notices that something is different about him. He then says, "I'm going to take you." Where exactly, I don't know, but he's clearly talking about some debauchery-filled paradise while he gets some of her red juice, not sex. Didn't stop my brain from piecing together stuff in that vein, though. That got a snort out of me.

Two episodes later, we get the famous scene of Shu taking a soak in the bathtub while fully dressed, listening to imaginary music in his earbuds because he gives no f**ks. After Yui touches his wrist (because she's a special snowflake and magical), he pulls her into the bathtub (also fully clothed, mind you) with the intent of also getting into her neck. When noticing how pale her skin is, he remarks, "I bet if I bit through it, it would spurt bright red blood like a geyser." This got a laugh from me, because I'm pretty sure blood psychics don't work that way.

Then in Episode 4, we get more of a taste of Laito's character, whose bloodlust is already clearly established along with a nickname he's christened Yui with (which I'll talk about later). When Yui goes up to the roof after Kanato places her bag up there (because she was under the impression that Kanato wanted something other than her blood for a drink), she overhears Laito rehearsing some monologue. She stupidly hides behind a corner after he senses her presence, and he decides that she needs to be punished. He then asks her where she wants it. And by it, I mean fangs. I at first thought this was kind of funny, but then re-watching it made it even more funny because he also grips her neck and she wheezes out that she can't breathe.

I know it's not polite to laugh when someone's getting choked, but how her seiyuu said it near Laito's lines had me nearly crying at 6 a.m. in the morning. I still don't understand it.

The last one I'm going to share is from Episode 5, when Yui and Kanato visit Cordelia's grave in the graveyard. Kanato gets angry that Yui wants to escape because she's selfish/conceited blah blah blah...She's stupid and pathetic because she tripped blah blah blah...He hits the roses he brought against the grave because he acts like he's 9 and consumed with rage blah blah blah...

He follows this by pinning her to the ground after she trips and decides to bite her. Because after all, we're in a graveyard, and nothing can be more romantic than a passionate biting session here!

Logic, wherefore art thou? You're not this show's strongest point, are you?

Kanato then asks to himself, "If mortal women aren't given a kiss before being pleasured, do they become angry?" Aside from reminding me of quotes I've read in online stories, does it really matter when she clearly shows she doesn't want it? Unless, like what I've heard around, Yui secretly wants to be stepped on and used. But I don't think that's the case. There'd be more inner monologues if so.

ANYWAYS, Kanato kisses Yui and she gets her first kiss on land stolen and then he sucks her blood and then he sucks it again probably on the juncture where her neck meets her left boob. I can only assume that because of his positioning, but it's funny because of what I mentioned above. He then says while he's getting his fill, and I quote, "You're so delicious."

Not only do these words come out of his mouth, he says them so ravenously that I can't take them seriously whatsoever. When I was watching the recap, I almost started heaving. I just watched the English dub of it while writing this because it was on YouTube and couldn't stop smirking the whole time (even though Yui's literally stating that IT HURTS and she WANTS KANATO TO STOP). The whole scene is so comical, what with the tone and Kanato's teddy bear, that I will never be able to watch it with a straight face.

Which brings me to why I enjoyed DL so much more than I possibly would have: If you don't take it seriously, everything about it isn't as offensive anymore.

Sure, there will be scenes that will test your limits and make you uncomfortable (as well as potentially aroused). But aside from dialogue, there are things characters do, settings that make this #uberedgy, and someone's overdramatic death that are on display and it's amazing. This show just takes itself WAY too seriously, so it's best for others to watch it with the opposite stance in mind because there will actually be something to love amidst everything else.

And in the end, that's all I can say. Aside from all of the problems included in this not so pretty package, I still found myself enjoying the hell out of it. There's so much fun involved in sexual dialogue and Subaru punching walls. Times it by infinity, and this is the most fun I've had in a long time. Who knows what the future of this show will entail? All I know is that I'm expecting a lot more cheese and salt.

Time to talk about the characters.


One girl, six boys, and don't forget a few distant relatives. There isn't a ton to talk about here, because we all know who's important.

Yup, basically everyone except Gretchen Wieners Yui Komori. Speaking of Yui, let's get her out of the way first:

This is what everyone talks about when watching this anime. They complain about how Yui is spineless, drone about how idiotic she is, and basically facepalm whenever she doesn't do something the viewer knows is logical. She's basically the archetype of female protagonists Jenna Moreci labels The Girl with No Agency.

And...yeah, I think so too.

Compared to any other RH protagonist who at least has a role in their story (or tries to), Yui doesn't really do anything to help her situation. Not only is she incredibly naive, but even when the opportunity to escape from the mansion is given to her on a silver platter, she doesn't take it. Because after all, the truth is far more important than her personal safety!

On another level, Yui is pretty much like Maria without the growth in devotion. They have the same timidness, the same repetitive dialogue, and the same instinct to not really think about what they're getting into. And while Maria doesn't have the same comedic value as Yui, at least she does become useful in some way.

After moving into the Sakamaki mansion, Yui finds a dairy and a photo of her father and her when she was a baby in an abandoned room. Even though she could be thinking of ways to escape (such as jumping out a window), she looks through the diary to find a bombshell that will mean nothing in the story arc: she is adopted. Because she wants to know what caused this, she stays with the Sakamakis, despite the threat of blood-sucking everywhere she roams. After all, she's starting to get chest pains as well. Might have to find the source for that, as well.

In a sense, I can't help but like Yui. Yeah, she's completely useless and lets others walk all over her for their own satisfaction, but there's a spark to that uselessness that gets me every episode. Whether she trips, doesn't fend off getting bitten (even with signs that she doesn't want it), runs around, or simply says, "I'm so thirsty," everything about her is a comedy, just like this show. Sure, it would be nice to have characters with greater agency in situations like these, but despite her obvious problems, Yui is one of the many ways this show provided quality entertainment.

Time to move on to the boys, starting with the triplets born from Cordelia:

So I'm going to use some outdated/mostly used in Lizzie McGuire slang here. Here's the 411 on the Sakamaki brothers. Though not born from the same mother, Karlheinz, their father, had 3 different wives. So Cordelia, one of the primary antagonists and the worst wife, is the mother of this set. Beatrix, Karlheinz's second wife, conceived children first (the two being Shu and Reiji, which makes sense as they are psychically older). Finally, Christa, the mother of Subaru, and Karlheinz's third wife (did he marry them all at the same time?), conceived her son through sexual assault.

Just to give a fair warning (and because I do want to stress this): Despite the boys having rough pasts, it doesn't excuse the fact that most of them treat Yui like a push-over and a vessel from which they can gain blood from because she is special. It may have been ingrained in their heads since birth, but unless they take steps to redeem themselves more by showing that they actually care about her (and I do believe Ayato and Subaru (in a sense) do), they can't gain my fullest sympathies. That over, it doesn't help their dialogue from being over-the-top and ridiculous to the point of hearty laughter. If it was a more serious anime, I'd care more for sure.

Ayato is the third brother in terms of ranking, and was raised to be the very best, like no one ever was. Compared to how Beatrix treated Shu (the current head), however, Ayato was treated like absolute scum by his mother, Cordelia. Forced to study rather than play with his two brothers, Ayato would get abused by his mother if he didn't follow through with her orders. She even went as far as to throw him into a lake! Bad mother alert!

Because of this, Ayato believes that he is untouchable and #thebest, referring to himself as Yours Truly (translated from ore-sama, which is used when the person views very highly of his/herself) and acting cold towards Yui (he first calls her Pancake (chichinashi) due to her flat chest), extracting blood from her with no rhyme or reason other than, "SHE'S MINE, YOU FOOLS! MINE!"

Over time, Ayato does begin to care for Yui in more than a Let Me Suck Your Blood way, especially as she gets entangled in a plot used against her.

Kanato is the fourth brother (and probably the youngest; kid doesn't look like he's matured past 9) and also looks like the one in most need of a good nap. As a child, Cordelia would often neglect him except when she wanted to hear him sing (probably Scarborough Fair if Episode 6 is any indication). She even referred to him as a literal songbird (canaria, which brought back vivid memories of Qualidea Code). Because of this, he would often play alone with his dolls and become deeply attached to them, but not as much as his precious teddy bear. This bear will appear everywhere no matter the situation. It's like Kanato's version of Linus's blanket from Peanuts.

Other side effects from Kanato's abandonment include violent outbursts, slamming roses against a grave, or bitch-slapping coffee out of Yui's hand. Despite this, he stills does have affection for Yui, but how pure that affection is is morally questionable.

Laito is the fifth brother and the most infamous out of the bunch. He is a SEXual Deviant, sex being capitalized. Constantly being in a state of semi-arousal, he shamelessly flirts with Yui and will stop at nothing to get a taste of dat thigh doe. He also calls her Little Bitch (bitch-chan), a pet name that isn't cute or sexy. If anyone called me that in real life, the following response will be this:

Yup, hope you have better luck next time, Ass.

But his sexual tendencies come from a dark place. Cordelia sexually abused him when he was a child, to the point where he stopped viewing her as a mother. When she broke the news that he was only being used for her pleasure, he was shocked and has looked for sexual gratification ever since. It's the most morbid out of the backstories (aside from how Subaru came to be) and there's a subtle hint in the flashback episode that you will probably now look for now that I've told you.

Hint: It's the episode where Ayato and Laito bite Yui at the same time.

So, the triplets. Well, they're iconic, pretty much for the wrong reasons. But there was still something to find in them that I enjoyed. Shocking, I know. But at least they're not flat, like other boys I've experienced in this kind of show.

First up is Ayato. He pretty much breezes onto the screen with the name tag Main Love Interest. And yeah, it's understandable as to why. He's the only one who starts treating Yui more delicately, even if it's little by little. He starts off by sucking her blood in the middle of night school, getting a taste in the family pool when he should be saving her, and leaving hickeys on her skin to show who she belongs to. But by the end, he does notice when she's in actual danger, doesn't immediately go in for the kill, and even refers to her by her first name. Progress!

So, he's on my Naughty but Kind of Nice List:

Now for Kanato. Oh, my poor dear, I could never take you seriously. Sure, you may be cute in that childish innocent kind of way, but oh boy. No matter what you did, whether it was talking to your Teddy, throwing a temper tantrum, or just being a whiny little s**t., you didn't seem threatening to me in the least. You could literally be yanking Yui's arm to prohibit her from escaping the temple of Dead Wax Brides, like so:

And fail miserably at taking it in an "Oh no, not more blood sucking," kind of way. It was more like, "Oh, ha ha, Kanato, you're so cute and adorable when you get possessive and angry!"

Every single scene he's in dials up 100% in comedic value because how can you take this with a grain of salt? He goes from 0 to 100 like it's nothing, throws fits at the drop of a hat, and it's done so abruptly that every single time it happens I laugh. The scene where he stabs a banana snowball at the monthly family dinner is pure art since it happens out of nowhere:

Best Comedy Moment for me this year. Sorry, nothing else can compare.

Kanato, you shall be christened with this:

But hey, you're still cute. So I did end up liking you a little bit aside from your cracks. You're on the Almost There List.

Laito's last. What did I think of him and his shameless eroticism?

Meh, he was fine. Every single time he called Yui Little Bitch amused me, but the fact that he doesn't really know the word "no," quite more so than his brothers, didn't. He has one of the saddest backstories in the game, so I do feel pity towards him. But man, change your ways! You don't have to go through life hitting on Yui non-stop and calling up her thigh when you need your fill of precious blood. He was a mixed package, and one I wished I would have understood more.

He'll go on the Naughty List because is there anywhere else to put him? I think not. We'll just leave it at that with added marveling on how Yui is a miracle. Bye bye.

Now time for the duo, AKA Reiji and Shu:

Reiji is the second brother who loves rules he self-made or are written in the stars. Though he appears very formal, there is a darker side to him, one that comes out when orders aren't followed (primarily in Yui's case). Because Shu is more withdrawn and laid-back, the former has had to take on the duties of the mansion head, much to his chagrin. In his spare time, he likes experimenting in his laboratory, where he makes drugged tea and potions.

In his childhood, Reiji was accidentally ignored by his mother as she was too busy looking after Shu, who was raised to be the head of the family (though Cordelia also played a role, as she harassed Beatrix for conceiving children first despite being the second wife). As such, he took his anger out by setting a village where Shu's friend, Edgar, lived in on fire, and when that didn't cause anything to happen, he got a vampire hunter to murder his mother (who's apparently Yui's father. That's going to be an interesting discussion at the family reunion). He eventually regretted it because Beatrix was relieved in death, not only by finally being free of Cordelia's prodding, but by seeing her sons grow up into the young men they are today.

Shu is the eldest brother and the head of the Sakamaki mansion. While lively when he was younger, the attention given to him by his mother was overwhelming to the point where he was highly pressured to impress her. After Edgar's death (caused by Reiji), Shu began to withdraw into himself, now in his current state of IDGAF. He typically likes to lie down in various places of the house, whether it'd be a couch or in the bathtub fully clothed (because this does actually happen). While he does this, he wears earbuds, but what music he listens to will forever be a mystery. I'm guessing it's something rock.

Though his "spineless" self doesn't do jack about the state of the mansion, Shu has a surprisingly dirty mouth, describing Yui's blood like it was something else (as mentioned above), calling her a dirty girl, insinuating that she actually enjoys being subjected to the thrill of the Sakamakis, and that he gets worked up with just the right amount of special human blood. His train has no breaks.

Now time for thoughts, and I'm again mixed. Not as bad as with the triplets, but we have one character that I'm just eh on, and another that is nice to look at, is sort of nice to Yui, but also has his bad moments, such as, "We're all vampires. We all want you for the same basic necessity. Don't come crying to me when you suffer enough blood loss that will cause you to be dead in the next hour. LOL."

Up first is Reiji. If I had to describe my feelings on him (though I gave a preview above), it'd be eh. It's partly due to the fact that he shows up the least out of the brothers, but I never really grew to his character as well as I would have liked. He's nice to look at, but his only memorable moments are his tendency to interrupt when Ayato wants to get frisky (hence why the Dub Talk ladies refer to him as the Fun Police), and his promises to punish Yui thoroughly with whips or just sucking her blood (hence why me and Luke refer to him as Daddy). I mean, when the glasses or gloves (hell, even both) come off, you know something's about to go down.

There was also the part where Cordelia in Yui's body shamelessly flirts with him because of his eyes (they reminded her of Karlheinz) and kisses him. This is kind of gross if you think about it, because they could be in a sense/actually incest. But moving on from that, I think as a viewer, I would have benefited from seeing Reiji more, because I think I would grow to him as a character aside from being kind of bored with him. His past is interesting because of his jealousy, but that's about it.

Reiji, here's where you'll go: the Naughty but Needs More to Him List. I know you expect perfection, but you're not going to get it from me.

As for Shu, I had no idea he was as dirty as he was before starting this show. I knew that he wasn't really energetic, and I knew he called her a slut in the More Blood dub, but damn. Just seeing more than half of the words come out of his mouth had me shook AF.

This blonde boy also didn't appear as much as some of his siblings, but I do think he was more memorable than Reiji was. Aside from the dirty talk, I think Shu did treat Yui at least kind of like she wasn't trash. His second bite scene has him literally biting her more than twice (and not just in her neck, because her blood is so HOT AND FILLING JUST YES MORE PLEASE), and he does make comments in the general range of "Yeah, no," but his nature can also be kind of soothing. I don't think he's as spineless as Reiji claims he is, because he seems to be pretty knowledge on the family ranking and had the information he was contacted with about Yui in the first place. Someone who doesn't have the passion to do anything whatsoever wouldn't bother with being that memorable.

So, where do I put Shu? The Naughty but Kind of Nice List works best, I believe. Because jeez. Sometimes you'll need to get that bar of soap ready, because the dirty will keep flowing like a river unless you stop it from time to time. Or it'll go into our fanfictions.

Last bur not least, we have our lone wolf, Subaru:

Subaru is the sixth brother and the Angst Lord. There is literally nothing that Subaru does that isn't filled with angst. Whether it's punching the wall and leaving a cracked dent, snapping Yui's pink flip phone with his fist, and slashing the pretty blue roses in the mansion garden with his arm or his special silver knife gifted to him by his mother, which can kill vampires with a pierce to the heart. Compared to his brothers, Subaru would rather be alone and only starts to show interest in Yui once she randomly finds him in the house. He was also the one who told her to get out and she didn't, but hey, at least she ended up using the knife.

Okay, okay, she used it on herself. Whatever. It still counts.

The reason why Subaru is so withdrawn and angsty is because he was never able to have a good relationship with his mother. After Christa and Karlheinz got married, she was raped and locked in a tower that she could never escape from. As such, the reason why she gave the knife to Subaru in the first place was to kill her because she couldn't stand being in a cell anymore. It was driving her mad because she knew Karlheinz would never release her, since he only viewed her as a experiment. It is unknown whether Christa's still alive, but Subaru blames himself for his own birth since he never got the chance to save his mother from her fate.

I figured Subaru would be my favorite before I even watched the show, not only because he looked hot, but I figured he wouldn't treat Yui like trash left on the side of the road. I guess my intuition was hella strong again, because I was right!

I have amazing ESPN! The best!

But let's back those brakes a bit. Subaru does have a bit of a possessive streak, as seen in his bite scene (and the one in two more episodes), but he doesn't have a heart of steel. He's more tender to her because he does wants her to be safe and not scared for her life, but in the end, he is still a vampire. And his fangs should be allowed to enter her...always.

Yeah, I loved Subaru if you can't tell. Aside from being kinder to Yui, he also has a lot of general hilarity. He's so angsty and no matter what he does, it's always a treat. Whether it's just being himself or trying to fight his uncle, Subaru can be a badass mofo, and he'd be the one that I would trust the most if stuck in a situation like this. I wouldn't mind giving up my neck or shoulder area so he could suck my blood. Not like I would have any say in the matter.

Oh, oops. But it's true though. Sorry not sorry.


Other characters include the mothers in flashback (though Cordelia comes back in Yui's body in the present), and the family's uncle, Richter, who is the big bad and also a bad person.


The animation for this series was produced by Zexcs, who have also worked on shows such as Chrome Shelled Regios, Cuticle Detective Inaba, and Omamori Himari.

For a show that's this trashy, the animation is quite pretty. For a show that has slightly over half-length episodes, the animation is quite pretty. All of the boys look gorgeous, the dark atmosphere is potent AF, the production is incredibly consistent, and a few still frames that I caught on Crunchyroll are fixed from broadcast to DVD. A show that's this short and rooted in quality entertainment doesn't need to look this good. It's easily the best production from Zexcs that I've seen to date.

Not much else to say outside of good job on you, studio. I'm sure the animation will only increase from here and look even more beautiful in its second season, while still having the charm that we got here.


The score for this series was composed by Yuki Hayashi, who is also known for his fantastic work on series such as Death Parade, Haikyuu, and Kiznaiver.

One thing that Hayashi hasn't done yet is make a score that fails to impress me. Each score of his has similar elements that manage to cross over, but at the same time, they have a quality to them that makes it that series. Same goes with Diabolik Lovers. While some elements of a few pieces make me think of the rustic quality that popped up in Death Parade, this OST is entirely its own. And once again, it's incredible.

The best thing that Hayashi captures here is the atmosphere of this series. It's dark, mysterious, brooding, even creepy at points, and the score manages to convey all of it despite a shorter number of overall pieces. They helped me get further sucked (hehe) into this anime despite its ambiguous content. It'll be interesting to see what will happen next season with a new composer (whose name is Saki. I'm not sure if she did the new pieces by herself or if she worked with Yuki Hayashi on them), but the fact still remains that this OST is a blessing and helps elevate this show with its much needed weight.

The voice acting is also pretty good. Rie Suegara, in her first credited role in an anime (I believe at least), opts not for a higher pitch, but rather for one that goes for the middle of the road, which doesn't make Yui as annoying despite how limited her material is. Plus, she is EXCELLENT when Cordelia takes control of her body. I wouldn't mind seeing her get more roles. The male seiyuus all sound like they're having fun and let out some pretty entertaining blood-sucking sounds (and moans). Cordelia's seiyuu was the only one I wasn't as fond of, since she sounded very porny at points, to the point where I couldn't take her seriously. It's not Akane Tomonaga's fault, as she's used to voicing in hentai and eroge, but she ends up playing Cordelia as a character from that field and not as someone from a reverse harem "trash heap." I prefer Monica Rial.

Speaking of the dub, I do plan on watching the full thing eventually, because it'll probably also be #iconic. What I've seen so far hasn't been too bad, even with the eh audio quality and pronunciation inconsistencies, but the main surprise is the first season being helmed by Sentai's Media Coordinator. That was something that probably no one expected, but with Christopher Ayres and Kyle Jones probably busy with other projects (and Steven Foster leaving Sentai Filmworks at this point), it probably was the only solution. But Ayres does direct the second season, which I predicted, and from what I've seen of that, the differences are already clear. Lots of ham and added honorifics, mostly. I'll talk about the dub and its actor highlights when I dig into it more.

Highlights from the original Japanese are Rie Suegara, Hikaru Midorikawa, Yuki Kaji, Daisuke Hirakawa, Katsuyuki Konishi, Kosuke Toriumi, Takashi Kondo, Jun Konno, Mana Hirata, and Yuki Tashiro.


Oh, Diabolik Lovers. While you're incredibly infamous and pretty bad in some aspects, you are just SO wonderful, and I'm always ready to come back for more. Your good aspects are quite good, don't get me wrong, but your entertainment value will be the star of the show for the rest of the year. Taking another look (or looks) at Qualidea Code's shite broadcast animation can't hold a crown to your prowess as an entertainment source. 

Ah, you're so much better than reality TV. Do you all see why I just watch anime nowadays than actual shows running on the big screen?

Anyways, this is another show that I don't think a lot of viewers outside of the target audience (reverse harem lovers) will like or click with, but aside from those who haven't seen it yet, if you want a good laugh from an anime that's not a comedy, please just put this on. I promise it'll be worth your while, unless you're too squeamish at Yui getting bitten too much.

I'm going to take a little break from all of these vampires and come back into the OVA and 2nd season with a fresh mind (and with the ability to take more notes). I have an actual comedy series I need to start catching up on.

Score: 7/10


ENTERTAINING AF when not taken seriously (beautiful and tragic at the same time).

Subaru treats Yui with slight respect.

Pretty animation.

Beautiful OST.

Voice acting is actually quite good.


Short episodes don't equal good development.

Plot is filled with holes.

Show's writing is a hit or miss.

Yui is too incompetent.

Most of the male characters don't treat Yui well and don't try to redeem themselves from their sad childhoods.