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[Dance in the Vampire Bund]
AKA: ダンス イン ザ ヴァンパイアバンド
Genre: Horror Action/Drama
Length: Television series, 12 episodes, 24 minutes minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed by FUNimation Entertainment
Content Rating: 16+ (adult themes, nudity, violence)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Moonphase
Notes: Based on the manga by Nozomu Takami.
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars

Dance in the Vampire Bund

Synopsis

Vampire Queen Mina Tepes is determined to create a refuge for vampires and related folk in the human world. Will she succeed, or will she be thwarted by the humans AND rogue vampires-who oppose her?


Review

Before I saw this show, I did see one review of it. The reviewer complained about the frame rate and about changes from the manga. The current reviewer doesn't get terribly worked up over frame rates, and has only glanced at the manga in Borders (back when such a place existed), so perhaps carries less baggage into this review than he did. But I didn't like it much, either.

The first problem is that the story isn't quite sure where it wants to go-it tries horror, romance, and even fan service, and doesn't sustain any of these. Part of the problem is Mina: it's All About Her, how wise she is, how compassionate she is (as vampires go), and so on. A show so fixated on one character is in danger of neglecting the development of other characters or even of a coherent plot-and that's the issue here. In particular, I got the feeling that her long-lost, and now reclaimed, werewolf lover Akira is with her more out of a sense of duty rather than out of tender or passionate feelings. (As in the beginning of Underworld, the werewolves here are servants of the vampires; unlike Underworld, here they are their WILLING servants, which makes for much less drama-if you want to see how vampires vs. werewolves can make plot sparks fly, check out Reiri and Liza in Princess Resurrection.)

Problem 2: I understand why Mina has retained the body of a child (it becomes obvious toward the end of the show), but her frequent nudity, from the moment she requests Akira put suntan lotion (OK, Shade Gel) on her body, to the gynecological exam she's forced to endure toward the end, skates pretty close to kiddy porn. And it IS played for eroticism (check the end titles of the episodes.)

Problem 3: the show's lack of humor. Yes, I know, there are the Dance with the Vampire Maids SD spots, but a better show, like Moonphase was, would better integrate humor into the plot, and use it to help us understand the characters better. A show like this that tries to take itself too seriously can easily succumb to being pretentious or just plain silly-and it DOES succumb to both these things.

Problem 4 (though somewhat mitigated): Yuki. Nominally she was Akira's girlfriend before Mina re-entered his life, but she not only seems content with Mina coming between them, but even becomes Mina's buddy. One would think "Doormat!", but here one of the included features, called "Intermissions" and consisting of excerpts from the original manga, helps clarify how Yuki finally comes to see her role with Akira and Mina. So maybe the reviewer I mentioned had a point about plot omissions/changes from the manga.

Problem 5: the Deus ex Machina. Around the halfway point of the series, Akira has a falling out with Mina over an apparently cruel deed she performs. Once again, the show is so eager to show Mina in a favorable light that not only is this later shown to be a misunderstanding of her behavior, but it's revealed that the cruel thing actually didn't even happen, thanks to Advanced Vampire Technology! Advanced Vampire Technology is actually used to save the day (wholly or partially) several times during the story, including for some students who do something so unbelievably stupid, I nearly stopped watching right there.

Problem 6: unfinished business. Throughout the show, people are trying to find out what Akira saw in his "last" mission, after which he lost his memory. We finally do find out what he saw-but what was it about anyway? Why were these things created in the first place, and by whom? It's clear that the answers are for an intended sequel; my personal preference is for a "complete series" to be a bit more self-contained.

Is it all bad? Certainly not, else I wouldn't have given it three stars. Mei Ren is kind of an interesting character-at least while she's still a mystery. The subplot with ex-class president Nanami and the lonely young boy she's befriended-and how becoming a vampire complicates her feelings toward him, to say the least-was interesting, especially in how it's resolved. Most of the show's episodes bear the titles of well-known (though not necessarily classic) vampire films...

...but the show doesn't have a heart. It WANTS to have one, in the relationship between Akira and Mina, but there just isn't enough there, at least as far as I could see.Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: The show tries to use Mina's child body as a turn-on, and that's just wrong. On the other hand, when she (occasionally) becomes an adult, she's ... well, VERY voluptuous (and just as nude). No kids; the standard older teens and adults only applies.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual (Grandpa is too Luddite to buy a Blu-Ray)
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Dance in the Vampire Bund © 2010 Nozomu Tamaki ・MEDIA FACTORY / VAMPIRE BUND
 
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