Dance in the Vampire Bund Episode 1: When gameshows get a little out of hand
Katt: I am in a good mood today–I had just one class, got home and saw that Tea had sent me a link to the BECK live action trailer (want it noooow! <3), and then saw that Dance in the Vampire Bund’s first episode has been subbed…and it was awesome! But I’m getting ahead of myself. I’m just a little giddy because, after it being decided that I’d be the one to blog this series, I starting reading the manga and have really gotten into it. In this first episode, SHAFT has already started doing their thing and twisting the plot around, so lemme look at how this introductory episode was presented~
In terms of the plot of this episode, I’m not going to go into my thoughts on it all too much. The main intention here was to have the vampires’ existence revealed to humankind and to have the establishment of “the vampire bund” announced. And while I’m not going into details on it, I loooove how this was done. In the manga it was very straightforward, with Mina appearing to the press and announcing the vampire existence and the bund, yada yada yada; here, the build up with the debate on whether or not vampires are real on a gameshow, showing the different attitudes that people have, and ending with vampires being exposed for what they are…it was really, really engaging and creative! While I do love the manga for what it is, I am so happy with the changes that were made. Sure, it’s different from the original source, but it works!
Our main players
While the Dance in the Vampire Bund manga introduces the male protagonist first, this episode is compleeeetely different in that it initally focuses on totally irrelevant characters and then moves on to Princess Mina and her entourage. Of course, we get a sneak peek at our main boy, which I’ll point out as I do a quick run-through of the characters we’ve seen so far…without spoiling the plot. (Honestly, with how things have been introduced, I am not even sure how the characters’ stories are working at this point so I wouldn’t be able to spoil things anyway!)
Mina Tepes–The vampire princess and, yes, a total loli. Don’t let appearances fool you, though, because as we can already see, Mina’s mind does not at all match her childlike looks. While she plays up the cutesy act when she’s nothing more than ‘the little foreign girl’ in the television studio audience, that persona fades away by the time that she exposes herself as the true ruler of the vampires. She is absolutely aware of her authority over her race and her undeniable physical superiority over humans, even if she looks frail enough to be slaughtered by a rampant sheep or something equally ridiculous.
Vera–Not yet introduced by name, unless I missed it, this lady with the voluptuous bosom is one of Mina’s personal guardians. Introducing herself as the vampire queen was a complete farce, most likely because with her appearance, it would be more persuasive than if Mina had appeared in public right away. She is indeed a vampire, and a strong one at that, but still not comparable to Mina.
Romulus–a.k.a. that guy who comes to the rescue and has a vague and quick exchange with Mina about some ‘Akira’ guy. Wow, wait, what am I saying here if I’m not bringing in spoilers? Well, I’ll just say that he has a significant rank when it comes to defending Mina. Quite the cold exterior, but every decision that he makes is done with the best intentions for those who he cares about.
Akira Kaburagi–What, you mean that random kid in the street who they asked, “Do vampires exist?” to which he replied, “No”? Yeah, that kid. He is just as signficant a character as Mina in this series and I admittedly find his introduction in the anime very puzzling. The manga begins from Akira’s perspective, and he is well aware of the existence of vampires; I’d say that his response was just an act to go along with the whole gameshow fun, but considering Mina’s reaction of tearing up, that can’t be the case. Where, oh where, are Akira’s memories? And what is he supposed to be remembering?
Establishing what a vampire is in this series
Every vampire series will show a different side of vampirism, so I’m sure some people are wondering if the vampires of this series are going to appeal to them. There are already a few hints in this episode that give us an idea of what they’re like so I’m going to have some fun and look at those. Mind you, there are still plenty of facts to introduce (although how far is SHAFT really going to get into this series with only 12 episodes??); consider my observations here to be just the basics.
Appearances: All of the vampires so far seem to cater to visions of beauty in the vampire race; whether they just happened to be hot when they were transformed or if their appearances altered upon infection is something that has yet to be answered. There are also questions of ageing risen by the fact that Mina looks so young. Was she born of a union between vampires and her body is very gradually growing up, or was she transformed while in a child form and will never change (à la Claudia, from Interview with the Vampire, who Mina very much resembles with her combination of mature mind and young body). Also in regard to appearance, the mutation of the bishie actor into a hideous cameleon prompts Mina to mention that vampires each have a “true form” that reflects their inner selves, so there is some sort of shapeshifting that can occur, though their control over what they shift into is dependant on their innermost intentions.
Weaknesses: There was a lot of discussion of vampires’ weaknesses in the gameshow sequence of this episode, though none of that necessarily applied to the real vampires. It was mostly for giggles, especially the mangaka character’s self-aware answer that he did away with most of the traditional vampire weaknesses in his work because it makes them too fragile. The only thing we saw for certain was a strength, in that the actor!vampire was able to have his arm chopped off and survive just fine, and also reattached it later. For weaknesses, as of now, the main ones implied are 1) destruction by the sun, as shown when Vera-as-vampire-queen says that the vampire arm would react badly to sunlight, and 2) loyalty to their blood roots, as shown when Mina–queen of all vampires and likely carrying the blood of all vampires’ common ancestor–could will the rampant vampire to stop his attack and die just by her command. This kind of thing is seen in Vampire Knight, too, when the vampires who have been transformed by a pureblood’s bite cannot attack the one who turned them.
Human Attitudes: Lastly, a little bit of fun with the human perceptions of vampires in this episode. I found it so entertaining how each member of the judges’ panel had a different opinion on the existence of vampires: there was the logical-minded one, the terrified one, the girl who finds them sexy, the one who plays up to such a perception, and the one who makes a profit from their popularity. Based on the audience’s reactions of ‘kyaaa~’ whenever the vampire actor tried to be sexy, it’s safe to say that this world (or at least the TV studio) is meant to reflect much of today’s consumers who drool over anything vampire-related, above all for the sexuality associated with vampirism. It’s completely the attitude of ‘vampires are hot’ and I am eager to see how much SHAFT uses that one for their own advantage, because the Dance in the Vampire Bund manga has plenty of sexuality in it.
Katt has sunk her teeth into Dance in the Vampire Bund episode 1…9/10
Katt’s blood craving for Dance in the Vampire Bund episode 2 is…8.5/10
“Mina”, an allusion to one of the main characters in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Of course, that Mina wasn’t a vampire, although she was beginning to come dangerously close to becoming one. And “descendant of Vlad”? That would be a reference to Vlad the Impaler, who Stoker’s Dracula is supposedly based upon. I remember reading in the manga notes that the last name “Tepes” had some significance, too, but I can’t remember it…