Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Vampire Dies in No Time
One dreadful day the great vampire hunter Ronaldo storms the castle of the vampire Draluc, who has, he's heard, kidnapped a child. Except…that's not really what happened; it's more like a local kid broke into the castle to use Draluc's game systems, and Draluc's the least threatening thing on the planet after his armadillo familiar John. When his castle is accidentally burned to the ground, Draluc (and John) move in with Ronaldo, beginning a series of misadventures with the weirdest vampires Shin-Yokohama has to offer.
If there's one thing you can say about The Vampire Dies in No Time, it's that it absolutely doesn't lie: within the first few minutes Draluc, the main but by no means only vampire in the series, has in fact died. More precisely, he's turned into a pile of ash after being startled by Ronaldo, a vampire hunter under the mistaken impression that Draluc's kidnapped a local child. As it turns out, Draluc is basically the fainting goat of the vampire world, prone to collapsing into a pile of grey dust with the smallest provocation, and he'd much rather spend his time playing video games, thank you very much. But since his castle accidentally gets razed during his encounter with Ronaldo, he's forced to do something desperate: move to Shin-Yokohama as Ronaldo's new vampire-hunting partner.
Although this may sound ridiculous on the surface (and believe me, the ludicrous goes much, much deeper), it does work to establish some surprisingly good world-building. In the show's version of reality, vampires are just an everyday thing, but most of them are inferior vampires who can't turn humans; they're more like raccoons in your garbage than any sort of actual threat. A bite from an inferior vampire can turn a person into a pseudo-vampire, but that condition is temporary, and if you don't want to wait for it to wear off, a shot at the hospital can clear up the problem. Draluc is a superior vampire, but as a descendant of the Progenitor (whose name we never learn, but we can make a good guess), he's very proud of his family's safe track record with humans, so hunting his more off-the-wall compatriots and keeping humans safe fits right in with how his family sees themselves. He's also not against consenting adults being turned by a superior vampire, as we see in the storyline featuring Adam and Maremi, when Adam turns her to save her life.
The Maremi plotline is one of several recurring subplots in the show, and while it skirts very, very close to the line of being the usual offensive stereotype of plus-size women in anime, it ultimately manages to be something much less awful. Although Maremi at first is depicted as a sexually/romantically desperate large woman, she turns out to be someone much more interesting and less offensive, and all without changing her looks. It would have been easy for the show to pull an Alvida (from One Piece) and slim her down once she became other than human, but instead she's revealed to just be who she is: an incredibly powerful plus-size vampire. It's a very nice subversion of what we more typically see, and although she's treated as a bit of a joke at first, post-turning she's hailed as an empress, implying that she always was awesomely powerful, but no one could see it.
Maremi is, of course, the exception rather than the rule among non-Draluc vampires in the show. Most of them are uniquely and bizarrely perverted, and it's worth mentioning that the humor gets very off-color starting with episode two. That would be the one that introduces Nudium, a vampire whose penis is a hydrangea that he really enjoys showing off – and his vampire powers make other guys turn into hydrangea-sporting nudists as well. Then there's the vampire whose power is to make everyone speak their sexual kinks aloud all the time and the one who puts everyone in micro bikinis, and the one who has kissy tentacles…as Draluc says, “when you live too long, your brain turns to punch,” and long life has clearly made these vampires a little too comfortable with themselves. Mostly this works very well for humor, with one particularly innocent character, Vampire Control Division officer Hinaichi, stuck just saying “wee-wee” for most of Mr. Lewd Talk's episode because she doesn't know any other sexual terms and hunter Maria being too busty for the micro bikini to fit, thus making her immune to the vampire's powers.
Maria's actually the closest we get to traditional male-oriented fanservice, and even in her case we barely see anything. Instead the fanservice element is entirely provided by the male cast, and even if it's meant to be strictly for giggles there's enough attention to detail that there are distinctly different body types on display. Naked Draluc is especially impressive with his skeletal proportions; we can clearly see all of his bones outlined when he loses his clothes. There is a regrettable near-okama character, Senya, but she's not treated as any more or less of a joke than anyone else in the show (the hunter who turns out to like women with body hair actually gets it much worse), and the English release goes out of its way to mitigate any damage, using female pronouns in the subtitles and toning down her speech in the dub.
As of this writing, there are six dubbed episodes available, and both vocal casts are excellent. Both Ian Sinclair and Makoto Furukawa give Ronaldo a lot of expression, and the main deciding factor may simply come down to whether or not you prefer your vampires to have faux Romanian accents, which Frank Todaro ably gives Draluc in the English dub. (It must be said that even without a stereotypical vampire accent, Jun Fukuyama's Draluc is wonderful.) Continuing on the technical front, the animation, while not spectacular, is very solid, particularly in the opening theme where Draluc and Ronaldo perform an electro swing duet; the lift is especially well-animated. The art has some very nice touches as well, such as the fact that Ronaldo owns multiple outfits and the various combinations of bat and vampire that the transformation-challenge Draluc turns into; they range from “nightmare spider” to “almost as cute as Al in The Vampire and His Pleasant Companions. The less said about the old man leg ostriches and the magic testicle vampire bug, however, the better.
The Vampire Dies in No Time is precisely what you'd expect from a series that ends with a dance-off. It's silly in the vein of Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle, features an inexplicably furry armadillo, and involves vampiric veggies that are scarier to cook than live lobster, plus a Tokimeki Tonight reference in episode ten. If this sounds like a rollicking good time to you, come on in – the absurdity's all warmed up and ready to go.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : B-
Art : B
Music : B
+ Often very funny, subverts a few expectations along the way. Nice variety of vampires, equally good in both English and Japanese. John.
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