Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Diabolik Lovers Review

So I said during my Impressions that if I survived this series, then it was going to get a review. No ifs, ands, or buts. Well, I survived. And now, you’re all doomed.

Diabolik Lovers is a 12 episode Romance/Supernatural series based on the dating sim game of the same name. Both Haunted Dark Bridal and More Blood are from Idea Factory for the PlayStation Portable. One was released in 2012 and the second was released in October of 2013. The anime from studio Zexcs and director Shinobu Tagashira aired during the Fall 2013 season. As of this review, it was announced that Sentai Filmworks was the American licensor, and no other licensing announcements from other regions have been made. However, it is up for legal streaming on Crunchyroll.

Yui Komori has always been an ordinary high school student - excluding the fact that as a child, strange, supernatural things happened to her. However, she has always been able to maintain a positive outlook on life. In her second year of high school, Yui's father, a priest, moves somewhere else due to work. Yui is forced by these events to move to a new town and a night school for the wealthy and famous. Furthermore, the house she must stay in is called "the haunted house" by everyone else, and Yui is suddenly living with six brothers who aren't exactly human. The six Sakamaki brothers are sadistic vampires that have only one thing in common with each other, the desire to drink Yui’s blood. However, there’s a darker secret lurking in the house’s walls. One that Yui will soon discover and the Sakamaki brothers will wish had died forever.

Zexcs has be a rather interesting studio as of late. Last year around this time I reviewed Say I love you, then after this past spring season Flowers of Evil was my favorite and got a review. It’s safe to say that you can’t really predict what this studio will do since the styles of these three shows alone (Diabolik included) are different from each other. What Diabolik Lovers brings to the table is wonderful animation and, probably, some of the better CGI use I’ve seen as of late. I think that’s actually one of the first times I’ve complimented this.... It feels weird to compliment it. The animation does have it’s clever moments too. Instead of typical on screen text or title cards to tell of the episode you’re watching, we get a clock showing us which episode we’re on using the hands. It’s a really nice touch. As for the music, a mix of eerie orchestral tracks are what fill the Sakamaki household. The ending theme follows a similar pattern with a simple orchestral sound and simple animation. Seeing as how the ending theme lasts only 30 seconds, this works. Credit is certainly due for the opening theme Mr. Sadistic Night. Not only does it fit the show really well, but it’s performed by two of the Sakamaki brothers, Hikaru Midorikawa (Ayato) and Kousuke Toriumi (Shu). Overall, no real complaints about the animation or music.

For a normal-ish guy, he's kinda..... Odd
Lazy bastard...
Diabolik Lovers does something a little bit differently then a lot of typical series you see. Instead of the normal 23 minute run time per episode, we see a 15 minute run time. This gives way to the plot of the series becoming heavily effected. But in a good way or a bad way? I’d say in the bad way. While a shorter run time means the plot has to be at the forefront in order for the series to succeed, this isn’t necessarily the case. We are given bits and pieces of the main plot in the first half, and then it comes in during the second half after the recap episode, though not fully kicking in until episode nine. The series does benefit slightly, however it’s also a huge disadvantage. There are moments and questions in the series the viewer will ask themselves, however it isn’t really addressed all that well or is never addressed at all. Most of these moments surround the Sakamaki brothers in particular, that if I hadn’t looked at the game’s story then I would have no idea what’s going on in some of the plot lines. If you’ve never played the game before and are just strictly watching the series, you will have a difficult time. I really do wish there was more story fit into the series, as it may have had the chance to give us more than what we saw. Actual full length episodes would have potentially solved this immensely. However, the final three to four episodes are a decent fit to the story and end the arc rather nicely. I say arc instead of story, because it seems painfully obvious that another season will happen and it’ll just be a matter of when just like it is for Attack on Titan. Though I do take issue with the last episode since it’s essentially cut in half of the 15 minutes we normally get and then gives us a few minutes with the Sakamaki brothers, and I can't believe I'm saying this, talking dirty to the viewer. Completely unnecessary and a waste of time that could have been given to the main story itself.

Calls himself "Yours Truly," must be a swell guy...
If I mention that the first half of the series doesn’t have a whole lot of plot going on, then what does it give us? Characters. As surprising as this sounds, we do get character development in this series. The early episodes tend to focus on the brothers one at a time, in order, Ayato, Shu, Raito, Reiji, and Kanato. Subaru doesn’t have a specific episode dedicated to him and, while he does, Kanato gets a little more time with Yui and can sometimes be the plot catalyst in a couple episodes. While some of the brothers don’t fully develop by series end, at least a few of them do, especially the supposed main love interest the series decides to focus on. While he does keep his original selfish tendencies, this Sakamaki brother does step up to fight for Yui in the end. Kind of romantic.... I think.... Speaking of Yui, we have a series where the heroine has a name. When I saw the summary and saw Yui’s name listed, I thought to myself “Already better than Amnesia”. Yui’s character is actually kind of interesting to talk about because she’s not the typical damsel in distress 100% of the time. Normally, any girl in this situation would just like to get the hell out of dodge, but Yui stays. Even when Subaru gives her a chance to run, she stays in the hope of finding out the truth. She basically is moderately fine with her fate and just wants to get to know the brothers. Really brave, or really stupid? Always the optimist. Not only that, but she does have the courage to stand up to the Sakamaki brothers from time to time. Not a bad dating sim heroine, but not the most amazing one either.

Oh Raito.... You.... You deviant you....
Please Sentai? For me?
As of this review, Diabolik Lovers has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks though without a release, obviously since I just finished the series last week, so we’re going with the Japanese language track. Luckily this cast is a small one, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get through. First things first, Rie Suegara as Yui is a wonderful little innocent girl. Though the moments she tries to stand up to the brothers are a little unbelievable, I’d like to think that’s more because of Yui’s fear rather than acting skills. At least that’s what I’m going to tell myself. As for the brothers, I previously mentioned two of them in regards to the opening theme. Midorikawa as Ayato is a wonderful blend of greedy and, at times, vulnerable. Toriumi’s Shu gives us a more quiet performance compared to the others, but it’s also a nice contrast. Diasuke Hirakawa as Riato is as much a sexual deviant as you would picture the character to be and it’s kinda scary. But in a good way. Yuuki Kaji as Kanato is also rather soft spoken like Shu, except when he has those moments where he’s completely insane! Even more so than the others. Katsuyuki Konishi as Reiji is as noble and responsible as you would imagine, while Takashi Kondo as Subaru can flip the switch between calm and angry so well that I thought two actor’s were playing the role. Other notable performances include Akane Tomonaga as Cordelia and Jun Konno as Richter. Overall, a really solid cast. I am interested to see if Sentai will dub the series. If they do, I have but one request. Greg Ayres as Kanato. Now who wouldn’t want to see that?!

The only moderately nice guy out of the six.
While watching Diabolik during my Impressions series, I thought of this as a guilty pleasure of sorts. This is still true, it is my newest guilty pleasure but I can’t help but applaud what the series somehow manages to do. Previously, I mentioned that jokes have been going around about who will “rape” Yui next. Yes this is sick and twisted, but I think it can also be a sign as to how these vampires differ than the ones we’re used to in the media today (i.e. Twilight and Vampire Knight). Vampires, in many legends, are really sadistic, evil creatures and seeing this come through with the Sakamaki brothers in different forms is really interesting. Instead of the typical “I love you but we can’t be together cause I wants to om nom you” sort of deal, the Sakamaki brothers have absolutely no problem with reminding Yui of her position as their meal source. Also, you could neatly line one of the Deadly Sins with the brothers as well such as Raito with Lust and Shu with Sloth. To be honest, I’m very glad for this change in vampiric behavior. That’s probably why it’s enjoyable to me. Or I could be just as sadistic. Who knows? But I will say this doesn't mean Diabolik is the best thing ever. OH GOODNESS NO!!! It's still bad. Mostly in the way of execution. If it had those extra eight or nine minutes per episode, then we'd probably get something a tiny bit better than below average. Because of that, this series is getting a grade to reflect this.

Still not sure why this happened early on...
By the end of the awakening, Diabolik Lovers gives back the reason why vampires are not as romantic as we think they are. The animation is surprisingly wonderful, the story is kind of interesting, and the characters are fun to watch. However, it’s still does have its many flaws in run time and the ending. Diabolik Lovers is an interesting watch and is certainly a surprise for me this season, though probably very little rewatch value. I’d say give it a try and see what you think. Though, ladies, fair warning you may want to write fan fiction after this.

Next time, we attempt to watch something a little more light hearted... And fail. Until then, otaku on my friends!

Final Rating - 4/10 Still better than Amnesia...

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