The Fall 2021 Preview Guide
The Vampire Dies in No Time
How would you rate episode 1 of
The Vampire Dies in No Time ?
What is this?
Draluc is a vampire who is feared as he is rumored to be invincible. The vampire hunter Ronaldo goes to Draluc's castle after hearing that Draluc has kidnapped a child. But when Ronaldo arrives at the castle, he finds that Draluc keeps dying over every small thing and turning to dust. Draluc's true nature is that of the weakest vampire of them all. (from manga)
How was the first episode?
To me, this first episode of The Vampire Dies in No Time was a hit-or-miss experience. The core joke of the series is right there in the title—so a lot of fun is poked at how easy it is to kill Draluc. And while this base joke is overused to a tiring extent, I won't pretend that some of these gags didn't get a chuckle out of me. (The fact that sucking blood is enough of a strain to turn him to dust is wonderfully absurd. I also loved him saying “dnas” randomly one time when he reformed into his usual vampire form.)
The other jokes that revolve around the characters' personalities were much less successful to me. Draluc has an unfounded sense of pride in his own abilities while Ronald feels more like a scam artist than a vampire hunter with his focus on optics over reality. These character traits make them more than a bit unlikeable—which is almost certainly the point. After all, if we don't really like the characters, we don't mind seeing them suffer as the butt of the joke.
Because the jokes are predictable and the characters are one-note to the extreme, I found myself mostly bored during the first two-thirds of the episode outside of the occasional laugh. It wasn't until the convenience store scene that I really got engaged.
While the majority of the episode spends its time establishing the core jokes, characters, and general status quo, the hostage situation is more social commentary than anything else. Our edgy, wannabe vampire is a stand-in for all the disillusioned youth who don't fit in and don't really know what they want. He has no real goals; he just thinks being a vampire is cool and that rebelling against the system in this way will make him happy.
This is already a good jab at society but then we get the core of the issue: he thinks being a vampire will make him happy because then he can get the girl he likes. This man is a 100% authentic “nice guy.” In his mind, he's turned a “soft no” from the girl he likes into an argument for her heart that he can win—if only he were to become immortal. (Though, I'm not quite sure why he thought taking her hostage would win her heart.)
I also love that they spend the time to explain why she gave a “soft no” in the first place. He is her boss' son. Making him angry could cause her to suffer workplace harassment or even get her fired. Hell, she only explains her reasoning now because A) she can afford to quit her job and B) will likely never see him ever again. While it's ultimately played for laughs, this is a solid social commentary on the kind of crap women have to deal with on a daily basis.
As such, if Draluc and Ronald's adventures going forward are more about taking jabs at society than how weak our titular vampire is, we may be in for some serious fun here.
DO YOU THINK YELLING IS REALLY FUNNY? DO YOU CRACK A SMILE WHEN I TYPE LIKE THIS AND IT TRANSLATES INTO YELLING IN YOUR HEAD, EVEN IF 99.9% OF YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT MY VOICE SOUNDS LIKE? IF SO, THE VAMPIRE DIES IN NO TIME MAY JUST BE THE ANIME FOR YOU.
Whew. Okay. I'm going to blow out my vocal cords if I keep talking like that, by which I mean I might get a cramp in my left ring finger, which I use to hold down the “shift” key, and we can't have that, so I'm just going to switch back to regular typing if you don't mind. I think I made my point: most of the gags in The Vampire Dies in No Time come from the school of comedy where there is one main joke, and most of the gags revolve around the characters yelling about it. Ronaldo and Draluc spend a lot of time hollering at each other as Draluc “dies” and turns into a pile of sand from the most minor inconveniences.
Comedy is, of course, deeply subjective, so some people will find this funny and others won't and it has nothing to do with how “good” or “bad” it is, although I do find yelling-based humor to be approximately two steps above the lowest common denominator. The show seems to be mostly based around the two of them attempting to work together and clashing until Draluc dies of something incredibly minor (causes of death in this episode include getting stuck in the automatic door and indigestion from attempting to suck a young man's blood), so take that as you will.
Luckily, even if there's one primary joke, there are a few others to be found, stemming mostly from the minor characters that Ronaldo and Draluc encounter. The first half of the episode is about Ronaldo coming to retrieve a child that Draluc supposedly kidnapped, only to find the kid was coming by of his own volition to play video games while Draluc slept, ignorant of his presence. The bratty Gen Z kid running circles around adults with their modern technology is almost as tired a joke as two people yelling at each other a lot, but the visual of the kid zooming around a spooky mansion on his scooter without a care for the adults pursuing him is pretty funny. Plus, he had dot eyes, and dot eyes are inherently funny. In fact, most of the best jokes are sight gags; I also laughed when Ronaldo nailing Draluc with a bottle of “Vabreze” in his office.
These secondary gags were the saving grace of The Vampire Dies in No Time, making it so that the episode was actually a pretty pleasant way to spend a half hour after a tough day at work. It's worth giving a shot.
You've got to give a lot of these comedy anime credit, since with titles as specific as these, you can never accuse them of false advertising. The Vampire Dies in No Time is the latest horror-adjacent anime to premiere this fall, though it is very much in the realm of a comedy that is spoofing horror media and tropes, which range from classic movies and anime to certain videogame franchises that revolve around unkillable vampire lords and the tenacious hunters who pursue them. Except, naturally, the joke here is that the titular vampire, Count Draluc, is the furthest thing from unkillable. As our intrepid vampire hunter Ronaldo discovers, a stiff breeze is enough to reduce this dweeby vamp to ashes.
The good thing about TVDiNT is that it knows exactly what it is, and all of its efforts go into providing the ridiculous sitcom shenanigans that the premise promises. The colors are vibrant, the characters are drawn with a charming simplicity, and the rest of the production from Studio Madhouse is just lively enough to keep the jokes flowing. I've been on something of a Castlevania kick lately (the games, not the Netflix shows), so this series seemed like it would be right up my alley. At the very least, in comparison to the other vampire anime I've covered this week, Draluc is, like, a real vampire!
However, for as much as I dug the idea of TVDiNT in theory, in practice, the results were mixed. This is largely because the show doubles down on that very specifically Japanese manzai flavor of comedy, which means that every single character is yelling all of the time, at an extremely rapid pace, and whenever there is a funny joke, someone has to undercut the comedy by immediately explaining it. Sometimes, I can be extremely down for this kind of anime—I've been loving getting caught up on Gintama, for example—but it can also make for an extremely exhausting and inconsistent experience. The joke where Draluc explains how the myth of his godlike power and invincibility came from the improvisations of a passing tour guide? Pretty funny! The bit where Ronaldo screams at Draluc that he shouldn't be so willing to explain such an embarrassing secret? Not so much.
Repeat this process for twenty-three minutes straight, and you have a premiere that probably should have been a short, but instead feels twice as long as it actually is. Still, comedy is so subjective, and how you respond to comedy is so rooted in mood and circumstance, that I have to recognize that there's a lot of potential to be had in The Vampire Dies in No Time. It's peppy, it's got a fun dynamic between its two lead characters, and some of its gags really are quite good. On any other day, I might have given it a 3.5/5, or maybe a 2.5 out of five. I'll split the difference right down the middle, and let you decide whether or not TVDiNT sounds like something worth checking out on your own.
Another anime season, another show based around exactly one joke, repeated in infinitude until the heat death of the universe or the end of the current cour. It seems like we get more and more of these kinds of gag series each year, and while there are some of them I've really liked – Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle was a stellar example last year – more often than not these series hit a point of diminishing returns as they pile on more characters to keep their gimmicks running.
Vampire Dies in No Time hasn't hit that point yet – they rarely do in the first episode – but it's easy to imagine the formula of Draluc constantly dying to paper cuts while Ronaldo overreacts becoming stale very quickly. Even in the first episode the funniest gags are from random side characters rather than our two leads, like the stonefaced kid who razor scooters through Draluc's mansion, or the convenience store employee who obliterates the wannabe vampire who asked her out. That's not to say there aren't any laughs that come from our main duo, but it's fairly sparse returns for how much screentime they spend yelling and mugging at each other. At least John the Armadillo is there, though.
I do rather like the art style, with its heavy outlines and more typically cartoonish proportions, though the animation is unfortunately inconsistent in maintaining those elements. Timing is largely snappy, save a few times where they linger on Draluc's easy deaths a little too long. But overall this is a solid and serviceable comedy production that manages to communicate the charm it's trying for. The music especially works to channel those Halloween vibes, and the OP is a dance-y little number that honestly portrays the rapport of our main duo better than the episode proper.
It's not laugh-out-loud funny, and I doubt I'll stick around for more, but there are far worse possible outcomes when it comes to full-length comedy series. So I can't complain too much about one being “just okay.”
The title of this one certainly doesn't lie – vampire Draluc does, in fact, die in no time. Or maybe he plays possum? Since he can still talk when he's a pile of sand, perhaps it's better to say that the vampire plays dead in no time. In any event, this episode is very devoted to its main gag, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
You see, poor Draluc the Invincible Progenitor (a superior vampire) is a little bit of a victim of marketing. His home estate, Castle Draluc, got on the tourist route at some point in the past, and in order to make more money, they dubbed Draluc said “invincible progenitor” and things just sort of went on from there. In reality, Draluc would rather be left alone to play his beloved video games, or maybe have someone over to play with him, so long as that “someone” isn't a local kid who sneaks in during the day and whose mother thinks Draluc has made a meal of him. When that happens, she calls on (okay, hires) Ronaldo the Great, a vampire hunter. Ronaldo has bought into the propaganda about Draluc, so he's very confused when just opening the castle door results in Draluc turning into a pile of ashy-grey sand.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure if this is actually funny or if I'm just in desperate need of a laugh since my mother's been in the hospital for three weeks following a head injury, but I'm not sure I care, either. The Vampire Dies in No Time is the kind of dumb humor that just hits the spot sometimes. Draluc falls somewhere between Count Duckula and Otto from the Discworld books in terms of both threat level and ability to stay alive, and he utterly unbalances Ronaldo with this fact. That Ronaldo tries to sell his autobiography (it has a real publisher!) to both Draluc and the kid who refuses to leave Castle Draluc until he's finished his game is silly, that Draluc never put two and two together about all those weird new save files in his games is goofy, and the fact that he's a vampire with a pet armadillo (who looks like a squirrel hiding under a bread roll) named John is just sort of the icing on the cake. This is absurdity at its silliest, and it mostly works.
It is repetitive, so if you don't find the sheer variety of things that will “kill” Draluc amusing, this could feel old relatively quickly. This episode does try to mix things up with the first half at the castle (before Draluc accidentally blows it up) and the second involving Draluc coming to live with Ronaldo and the two of them trying to talk down a dumb kid who's been bitten by an inferior vampire and is now a very determined (and kind of emo) pseudovampire because a girl rejected him. (My favorite Draluc death is when he gets his cape stuck in the automatic door of a convenience store in this part.) Things end with a reluctant (on Ronaldo's part) partnership between the two, and while I'm not sure it can keep its main joke going for an entire season, it should be fun to watch it try for as long as it manages to pull this off.
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