The Fall 2018 Anime Preview Guide
Ms. vampire who lives in my neighborhood.
How would you rate episode 1 of
Ms. vampire who lives in my neighborhood ?
Community score: 3.5
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How was the first episode?
I wanted to like this first episode of Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood a lot more than I ended up doing. All of the ingredients for a cute autumn delight are here, after all: “Dorky high-school girl meets a cute vampire that she immediately becomes infatuated with” is a premise that I don't need a lot of convincing to get behind, and the co-production team of AXsiZ and Studio Gokumi proved they could whip up some sterling animation with Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen noodles. Funnily enough, Ms. Vampire shares more than an English honorific with its ramen-based counterpart; it also carries over Ms. Koizumi's chief narrative flaws, namely in how the central relationship of the show is undermined by an unlikable protagonist.
All of the problems I have with Ms. Vampire's premiere lie in Akari, the human counterpart to the titular vampire, Sophie. Akari is eccentric and boisterous and a little spacey, as have been many anime protagonists before her, but she's also extremely pushy, inconsiderate, and dense to the point of being irritating. This is the core joke that fuels most of the episode's attempts at comedy. Sophie is perfectly happy living her solitary life as an undead night stalker, but along comes Sophie with her endless string of questions and her constant interference into Sophie's routines, not to mention her off-putting insistence on lasciviously comparing Sophie's eternally young and corpse-like body to a doll that she can dress up and manipulate as she pleases.
To be blunt, not only was I not surprised that Sophie spent much of this episode being annoyed with Akari, I often felt like the poor vampire was being far too nice to the girl. The bland writing doesn't help either. This is a four-panel gag manga adaptation, so the formula for the jokes remains predictable and repetitive; most of them set up a vampire cliché that Akari is familiar with (i.e. vampires can't go into a building unless they've been invited), and then Sophie immediately reveals the mundane reality behind the myth (vampires just don't want to be rude). Later, Akari will inexplicably forget the knowledge of vampiric lore that was needed to set up the earlier gags; she'll fill the living room with sunlight, only to burn Sophie's skin, or she'll pitch her cooking skills before being reminded that Sophie only needs to eat blood. So Sophie is either acting obnoxiously inconsiderate or obnoxiously aggressive, and neither mode makes for a good lead. The jokes aren't funny, the relationship isn't cute, so the appeal of the show withers like, well, a vampire in the sunlight.
By the end of the episode, Sophie is more on board with her new roommate, and I can see how this show could become much more enjoyable if it were to finally move past the growing pains of setting up the Akari/Sophie dynamic and just focus on the monster jokes. For now though, there's nothing that Ms. Vampire offers that other shows aren't doing better this season. If you want spooky monster girls, watch Zombie Girl Saga. If you want cuteness and/or romance, check out Boarding School Juliet or Bloom Into You. Treat Ms. Vampire like the hard candies that the old folks will inevitably be passing out to kids this Halloween. It'll do if you're desperate for something sugary, but until then it's best left at the bottom of the candy bag.
As far as I can tell, this series is a slice of life comedy in need of either a more interesting life or better comedy. It blends breezy, vaguely yuri-themed humor with its central vampire gimmick, and while the results occasionally seem promising on a surface level, the substance just isn't there. It's got the cuteness factor going for it, but even as a slice of life fan, I found this episode a little too dull for my liking.
The dynamic between the main characters is also the show's core joke: Sophie might be the super-strong vampire here, but doll enthusiast Akari is the scariest one of all. Most of the jokes, and indeed most of the scenes in general, involve Akari fawning energetically over Sophie until Sophie gets freaked out and tells her to take it down a notch. That joke works well enough as a starting point for the story, but I get the impression that the series will keep going back to it throughout the season. Given that the repetition in this episode is already making the punchline feel overplayed, I can't say I'm optimistic about Ms. Vampire's ability to keep the laughs coming.
When Akari isn't actively bombarding Sophie with affection, this episode manages to sneak in a few slices of vampiric life. We learn that Sophie buys all the blood she drinks online, watches late-night anime because of her nocturnal schedule, and changes the way she prepares blood to fit the season. These little snippets of her lifestyle remind me a bit of Interviews with Monster Girls, but Ms. Vampire seems to lack that show's thematic depth. Where the supernatural characters in Monster Girls were essentially trying to manage their quirks like any other physical condition, Sophie's lifestyle misses that notion of making the best out of an unusual situation. Instead of saying something about embracing the things that make someone different, Sophie's vampirism strikes me as more of a gimmick to help the series stand out from the 4-koma pack.
Ms. Vampire should be serviceable for the cute comedy crowd, but I don't really see it reaching beyond that core demographic. While there's nothing blatantly wrong with it, it's a little too bland for its own good. Given a wider variety of jokes or a more substantial look at Sophie's life, it could potentially carve out a decent niche for itself. For now though, this looks like a “genre fanatics only” affair.
If you're looking for a generous dose of cute this season, this series may well be the ticket. It features a cute vampire girl who looks like a 13-year-old and the equally cute middle school girl who comes to live with her, despite the vampire frankly admitting that she's a vampire. In fact, the middle school girl finds the vampire positively adorable, much to the vampire's dismay.
That's every bit the setup for cuteness and comedy antics as it sounds. Sophie can fly around on tiny little wings and has so far exhibited most of the traditional vampire characteristics, but one of the central gimmicks is that she's a very modern vampire for being (presumably) hundreds of years old. She's figured out how to order blood online so she doesn't have to drink directly from people, making it so she has to rarely leave the house at all. She's even become immersed in late-night anime series, to the point of having figma and sleeping with a dakimakura in her coffin. Want warm blood for dinner? Just microwave it for 50 seconds or so. In a nod to the cute factor, she even has different types of blood labeled in her refrigerator based on taste.
The other main hook is that despite Sophie being insanely strong, she's actually the one being utterly overwhelmed in this relationship. She appreciates the company more than she cares to admit, but she just doesn't know how to deal with the overbearing Akari, who's not only not afraid of her but also wants to treat her both as a doll and as a jar-opening tool. This should provide a lot of mileage for humor, especially once the apparent vampire friend of Sophie's eventually pops up. That Akari's parents don't seem to be fazed in the slightest by their daughter moving in with a vampire is a good follow-up joke too. Yuri fans may also find something to like here, as Akari isn't tame about her physicality with Sophie.
With most of the briskly-paced bits consisting of brief segments strung together into a general story, it's no surprise at all to learn that this is based on a four-panel manga. As long as it plays well on that level, it could be a lot of fun.
And so we arrive at the season's first slice of life offering, a light comedy about a doll-obsessed girl named Akari and her vampire neighbor, Sophie Twilight. After a very quick first meeting, most of this episode is consumed with the two of them simply hanging out in Sophie's house, chatting about vampire things and getting to know each other and all that jazz. With a superdeformed art aesthetic and generally mild jokes, it's very clear that Ms. Vampire is going for a charming atmosphere more than anything else. So how does it all pan out?
So-so, in my opinion. First off, the show's visual execution is pretty underwhelming. While the character designs are certainly very cute, there wasn't very much expressive animation throughout this episode, and Sophie's house was lacking in character as well. Shows like this tend to genuinely demand a strong sense of place, and absent that, Ms. Vampire is forced to lean all the more heavily on its gags.
As far as those gags go, this show's biggest running joke is clearly “even though Sophie's the vampire, Akari's the terrifying one.” Instead of being frightened to learn she's befriended a vampire, Akari is ecstatic - now she has a friend she can dress up like a doll forever and ever! There's definitely some comedy to be mined in this conceit, and Ms. Vampire pulls off a few reasonable gags in that line, but the concept felt stretched by the end of the episode, and also didn't really lend itself to a genuinely convincing friendship.
Ms. Vampire's comedy felt a little tame and overplayed in general for me, which is pretty common for the genre, but less forgivable in a show that's not really offering anything else. Many jokes are repeated or over-explained, and as I mentioned, the mediocre aesthetics mean there's not really any visual comedy to speak of. It seems clear that the show's going for a quasi-romantic angle, but neither Sophie nor Akari ever felt real enough as people for that to seem terribly compelling. All in all, Ms. Vampire is far too mild to genuinely frustrate, but also lacks either the strong sense of humor or grace of execution that might separate it from the pack. A reasonable low-rung production for genre enthusiasts, an easy skip for everyone else.
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