Dance In The Vampire Bund

January 21, 2011

We all know the recent American vampire craze from the big screen to its TV series. Not to say that Japan hasn’t has its fair share of it but when you talk about vampires against their eternal and natural werewolf nemesis, how many actually do feature the forbidden love between a vampire and a werewolf? Yeah, it’s always both sides killing each other for centuries. Though this Romeo-Juliet setting isn’t the main premise of Dance In The Vampire Bund, at least there is an unbreakable bond between both the main protagonists that are from different clans.

Episode 1
The episode starts off on an interesting tone because it is somewhat like a talk show-cum-debate about the recent vampire-like attacks and thus the discussion about whether vampires do really exist among us. Featuring a panel of famous judges from various backgrounds that include an actor playing some vampire in a recent movie, an old actress who played a role in an old vampire movie, a model, a mangaka and a professor. Each give their views as the programme also interview audiences. Among them and yet unknown to the world, the real princess of Darkness and vampire queen, Mina Tepes, a random passer-by in the street that turns out to be Akira Kaburagi (someone Mina knows but is rather disappointed he doesn’t believe in vampires). As the show goes on, slowly the judges shift their opinion to not believing in vampires’ existence. Till one of Mina’s servant, Vera, brings in proof in the form of a vampire’s detached hand. The actor starts acting strangely and he suddenly turns into a vampire since that was the arm he lost. He goes berserk and attacks, causing chaos in the studio. Finally Mina shows her true self and power as she and her loyal subjects subdue the rogue vampire. She announces her intention to establish a kingdom for her vampire brethren called Vampire Bund just off the shores of Japan.

Episode 2
Akira seems to be a regular high school kid and I guess it’s pretty typical too that he has a childhood friend-cum-classmate who has a crush on him that he isn’t aware of, Yuki Saegusa. Oh I forgot to mention. He has no memories of his first 16 years of his life due to some incident. The students of the school are still talking about the hot topic on vampires and Akira isn’t comfortable about it. He spots a little girl (Mina) spying on him from the bushes. Seems he doesn’t remember who she is. Mina backs off after Akira experiences painful but very vague memory recalls when he sees her tears. After school, Mina confronts him again but they are being attacked by other forces who want her killed. They need a helicopter to do that? Well, she is a vampire after all. After despatching a couple of rogue vampires, Mina is confronted by another spider assassin. The spider has Mina in his grasp while Akira takes a beating. Mina’s tears has Akira at least remember his relationship with Mina so he transforms into his true form, a werewolf and wipes out that spider to rescue Mina. You know, I find his wolf howling to be a little weird. Sounded a little perverted…

Episode 3
It’s bad enough Akira wakes up with Mina in her room and given special treatment by Vera’s other maids, namely Nera, Nelly and Nero. To make things even worse, Mina becomes Akira’s classmate! Isn’t this such a cliche storyline? What’s more, everybody recognizes her as that vampire queen. Now everybody is hounding Akira for answers because Mina announces that he is her servant. Things are just going from bad to worse. At least for his peaceful life. However the student council president Nanami Shinonome isn’t pleased that Japan is already under the influence of vampires and now their school has been infiltrated with one. She decides to confront the school’s director whom nobody has ever seen and to her shock finds Mina as its director. The school was built for her and aid her goal to establish Vampire Bund? Some foresight. Nanami definitely is against this so to settle this dispute, a contest is announced. Guess what? If Akira is captured before the time is up, Mina’s transfer to the school will be cancelled. And to add motivation, the ones who capture her will be given a special reward. Whatever that is. But heck, it was enough for everyone to go all out for Akira’s head. Akira has a tough time running away but a mysterious girl who loves biting candy, Meiren, saves him from all those trouble. Ally or foe, we just don’t know but he got away. At the same time, Mina meets a bunch of higher Japanese bureaucrats and ‘blackmails’ them to approve her Vampire Bund establishment. Since her clan has been subsidising Japan’s economy and clearing their national debt, disapproving her kingdom would mean pulling out the funds. Tough, eh? Now we know how Japan is financed! At the end of the day, Nanami’s decision to stay late at school proved to be fatal as vampires break in to her room and attack her.

Episode 4
Mina is going to hold a worldwide announcement about her kingdom. This is going to be big news so it’s no surprise that extra security has to be taken. Then when a missing vampire rumoured to possess a bomb goes missing, Mina is still going ahead with the conference while the rest race against time to search for the culprit. Clues indicate that the suspect may have escaped the tight security detection because he or she recently just became a vampire. Akira and Vera realize that the bomber is masquerading as one of the journalists and is already in the packed hall. Mina captivates the curious beings with her assertive answers. As the bomber begins to move, Akira spots her and manages to subdue her. The crowd panics while Mina plays it cool. Then extracting the bomb inside her body and throwing it down the shaft. With everyone witnessing first hand that vampires do exist, Mina tells them to report it and but assures them to go back to their daily lives as she will never pose a threat to them. With that, the council approves of her kingdom. Mina thanks Akira for being selfless as the latter learns her goal of establishing Vampire Bund as a sanctuary for humans turned into vampires but are ‘fangless’ and do not want to lose their human heart.

Episode 5
As Mina attends school, the rest still fear her but Yuki approaches her and they soon become friends. At least they are able to talk to each other. Then news of Nanami’s disappearance turned into rumours that she was attacked by vampires. Yuki suspects Mina ordering the attack and is disheartened to see the ring she gave Akira on Mina’s neck. Mina becomes aggressive and tells her off that Akira was born to serve her and that he belongs to her! But Mina has a bigger problem on her hands. Japan’s Prime Minister, Mizoguchi who is against Mina’s kingdom, plans to disband the parliament and this could derail the establishment of Vampire Bund. Mina goes to see him and talk but Mizoguchi thinks he has the upper hand of dissolving parliament. What about the funds? Well, if that is what the people want, then we must respect their decision, right? If only politicians were this true to their words. Since Mizoguchi won’t budge from his stand, Mina has no choice but to execute her plan. Something about kidnapping Mizoguchi’s beloved and only grandson. Wow. Nera slaughtered all the bodyguards and kidnapped the grandson! Meanwhile, those who are close to Akira gets beaten up as they are deemed to be on the vampire’s side. Akira receives pictures of Nanami being attacked by vampires. Later Akira walks back with Yuki but they are being attacked by vampires. The thing is, those vampires are wearing their school uniform. But they managed to escape when Meiren comes to their rescue. She easily dispatches them all singlehandedly. Akira and Yuki take refuge in a building. Not sure if they got their sex interrupted (at least that’s how it looked like) when Mina calls Akira to wonder about his whereabouts.

Episode 6
Akira is confronted with Meiren and the way she says things causes him to doubt his loyalty to Mina. Then his true fears realized when he comes home to see Mizoguchi’s grandson crying in a dark room. Worse, a vampire bite mark on his neck. Mizoguchi has no choice but to give in to her demands and soon resigns from his post. Then in school, one of Akira’s friends, Hiko seems to have turned himself into a vampire. Once often bullied, he is relishing in his new super strength powers but before Akira could stop him, he flees. Akira then confronts Mina (seemingly very happy her negotiation was a success) and is disappointed in her about the recent events though Mina is adamant that he doesn’t know the burden of the kingdom she is carrying. With vampires infiltrating their school, Yuki and the others who are still human converge at the church. Do they really believe that this place will keep them safe? Thankfully Akira wishes to help them out but decides to leave to confirm his own feelings and will fight against Mina. He advises them not to let anyone in after he leaves. Yuki asks Akira about the ring and though he remembers the proof of their promise as friends forever, Akira is glad she didn’t lie to him and was always by his side. After Akira leaves, they hear cries of Nanami pleading for help. They think it’s safe but by opening the door means opening Pandora’s Box. It’s just a trap as Nanami is now a vampire with her vampire pals. Curiosity does kill the cat.

Episode 7
As Akira is on his way, he meets Alphonse, one of Mina’s loyal subjects and the one who suggested the plan to kidnap Mizoguchi’s grandson. He also meets his dad, Wolf and learns something about his failed mission over a year ago that resulted in the lost of his memories. Wolf was supposed to kill Akira then but decided to let him live. He doesn’t want Akira to make him regret making that decision. Meanwhile the vampires that infiltrated the church are raping and turning the humans into one of their own kind. When it’s Yuki’s turn, Mina appears in time. She is not pleased to hear their twisted version of making her a ruler over mankind. These vampires call themselves Telomere and were the ones who manipulated Mizoguchi. Since Mina doesn’t agree with them, they are prepared to kill her. Are they serious in taking their own queen down? She isn’t the queen of vampires for nothing. Even in their true forms, they couldn’t even scratch her. Akira busts in to swiftly deal justice to them. Then he and Mina face off. Both transform into their true form and fight each other (Mina seems to be an adult version of herself. Why is her body glowing in yellow?). The fight ended when Akira used his body to protect Mina from a cross that pierced his body. Don’t worry, he won’t die that easy. Just glad that they’ve reconciled. Those who have been recently turned into vampires are given vaccines to revert back to their human self. In the end, Mina declares the establishment of Vampire Bund and Akira is bestowed knighthood and joins the order of warriors to serve under her.

Episode 8
Nanami is still a vampire and can’t revert back since she has been one for too long. She tries to resist her temptation to bite her next door neighbour’s neck, Yuzuru. In school, Mina and Yuki resume their friendly relationship and seems Yuki writes a yaoi manga with Akira as the main character (WTF?!). Perhaps if she can’t get her dream guy, it’s best to fantasize him to the max. Yuzuru wants to go to Bund to find Nanami, whom he considers as his older sister. Mina and co go look for her thinking she’s under the command of a new master. Turns out to be Hysterica, someone Vera once knew. Hysterica and her vampire army surround the gang but luckily Mina has got her Elite Eight of Beowolf werewolves to do the ass kicking. Vera fights Hysterica while the rest go after Nanami. She pleads them to kill her before she ‘dirties’ Yuzuru and starts to hate her. Before anything else could happen, Hysterica uses her suicide vampire army infused with bombs in their body as diversion to take Nanami away and escape.

Episode 9
Mina is sending out a worldwide telecast to challenge Hysterica but nobody knows that because she’s speaking in an ancient language and the subs are fake. And you thought the fansubs were trolling! Mina briefs her Beowolf warriors about Telomere’s possible plans to do a large scale suicide explosion in subways by using vampires posing as humans. While Yuzuru learns of Vera’s resolve to become a vampire and serve her highness, Mina meets Hysterica and her vampires while the werewolves go on a subway vampire hunt. They try to outdo each other. Hysterica can’t send signals to her vampires in the subway to explode because the building is covered with aluminium scraps and jamming devices. But the ones with her are a threat as the close proximity can still cause damage to Mina if they explode too close. Hysterica tries to command Nanami to do her bidding but Mina unveils her trump card: Yuzuru. She still has strong feelings for her and is able to go against Hysterica’s orders. At least enough time for Yuzuru to stab her. Meanwhile all of the suicide vampire bombers in the subway are snuffed out. The last one left is Hiko. Akira tries to persuade him and promises to help him but Hiko realizes himself to be always weak and blows himself up. Though Akira is sad that his friend is gone, at least there were no other casualties. Mina in her true form battles Hysterica. Nanami then surprises Hysterica by stabbing her. Seems the stake Yuzuru stabbed her had Mina’s DNA, making her Nanami’s new master. Vera finishes the job and kills Hysterica for good. Yuzuru has Nanami bite him so that he could turn into a vampire and be together with her forever.

Episode 10
Mina and her maids (Nanami as the new addition) are taking a day off in their private pool along with Yuki. Akira is absent since that guy decided to accompany Meiren on a ‘date’. She tells him about a story of an unattainable love. Some butterfly danced till its last strength and all its might to attract another butterfly on a flower. Even after the butterfly’s death, the other one still stood there on the flower and it turned out to be just the flower’s petal that resembled very closely to a butterfly. We see a short flashback how Meiren was saved by Mina and was given those candies that she wouldn’t be seen without. Mina gets a visit from the Three Clans, supposedly the true blood lineage of the vampire clan. They are Rozenmann, Ivanovic and Li and are trying to make her submit to them. Why? Because she is their fiancee! We all know that loli vampire would prefer a hairy dog over a few arrogant blood sucking creatures. Based on their strict tradition to carry on their heir and true vampire blood, only Mina can bear a child. Seems they’ve grown tired of waiting. When Akira returns to Bund, he is being swiftly attack by several assailants. As part of the Three Clans’ wager to see who will be Mina’s fiancee, they have make a game in which the master of the assassin who successfully kills Akira will claim Mina to be his. And they’re highly skilled assassins, never failed a mission before Run Akira, run! To add to Mina’s horror, they force her to take the purity test.

Episode 11
Akira is saved by Alphonse as he learns about the purity test not only to see if Mina is keeping her body pure, but a sign to tell her that she is their property. And a little vampire history and feud about the Three Clans framing Mina’s late mom and the previous ruler. Akira is determined to save his princess and though Mina is a little weakened after that violation, quickly gets back up to her feet after and decides to place a wager on herself and her entire future. The Three Clans mentioned something about her true inheritance, something Mina isn’t familiar with. Akira is having a tough time with an assassin but Meiren comes to his aid and finishes him off. Akira can’t transform to his werewolf form. Taking a short refuge with her, Meiren gives him eat a pill and part of his memories start to return. But they are being attacked by another assassin. Since this one is a shape shifter, Akira snaps when she transformed into Mina and in his rage turns into his werewolf form and kills her outright. Bloody decapitated head…

Episode 12
It begins with a flashback of Akira’s previous failed mission. As the only survivor, he enters a creepy place with lots of coffins. And in it, sleeping grown up Minas. The next thing he knows, the entire place is burnt down, the clones destroyed and Mina saying that there are only 2 of them left. Akira wakes up being treated by a group of those fangless vampires as they cheer and give him support. Then he faces off with the final assassin which turns out to be Meiren. He learns her true goal was to gather Mina and the Three Clans together so she could wipe them all out for the sake of her master: She looks a lot like Mina! Her twin? Clone? Leftover of whatever happened at that flashback? Mina learns from her subjects about the true inheritance, which is their ancestors’ blood. As they cannot evolve, they need their blood so that their time can move forward. So those inheritance thingy are those Mina clones and the blood? Akira and Meiren won’t budge from their loyalty to their respective princess and duke it out in their true forms (Meiren is a tiger?). Of course in the end Akira emerges victorious and Meiren is glad to die in his arms. The Three Clans are going to take things into their hands but Mina still has an ace up her sleeve. She gives them a choice. Either they bow to her or they all die together. They make the right decision to continue living. Mina then goes to have her emotional reunion with Akira. News of Meiren’s failure reaches the Mina-look-alike. Akira and Mina have their dance at a cemetery in Bund as he vows to always be by her side.

Vampie + Werewolf = Ugly?
Not sure if they’re going to make another season seeing there are new developments in the form of that Mina-look-alike believed to be heading the Telomere. Mina is definitely a strong character and you have got to love the way she speaks or answers. It is just commanding and very assertive. If you think you could talk back to her, she just has a way with words and answer to just about anything. She is never caught off guard and is prepared for just about anything. It’s a good thing that she keeps her cool but behind that cold demeanour hides a lonely and vulnerable but caring princess of her people. The reason why she remained in her child-like body and kept it a secret was probably to stall marrying one of the Three Clans and bear his offspring. Unlike most vampires who want to rule the world and wipe out the weak humans, at least she tries to coexist for the benefit of both communities. Though Akira has regained his memories in the end, this doesn’t change the fact that he will always be loyal to Mina. With a strong werewolf like him on her side, they’re an unbeatable combo.

Yuki’s character felt very secondary and we know that her romance with Akira ended after the halfway mark. She knows it isn’t going to be possible for Akira to be her lover. Rather than being a rival with Mina (heck, which girl would ever want to go up with the vampire queen?), she quickly accepted for who Mina is. Though Yuki narrates poetically about the story and the fate that has Mina and Akira are bounded together with, I guess that’s just about it for her significance. I also felt that the Elite Eight didn’t make much of an appearance. After their cool ass kicking debut, I was hoping to see them in at least a little bit more action. Well, maybe not. Just let Akira hog the limelight since the series is running out of episodes. Haha. I couldn’t believe that a Chinese vampire (Li) was also one of the true lineages of vampires. And here I thought at least everything will originate from Transylvania of Eastern Europe.

It’s so typical of me to have a stereotypic view on Rie Kugimiya’s voice. I could never guess her if I had never do a little research. She is the voice of Hysterica. Yup, no tsundere loli, no recognize. At least Yu Kobayashi as Meiren (Ayame in Gintama) was recognizable even if she didn’t turned into a screaming hysterical character. Since I never could recognize Chiwa Saito (Rebecca in Pani Poni Dash), this would mean it would never occur to me that she was the voice behind Yuki if I had never find out. Other casts include Ao Yuuki as Mina (Noel in Sora No Woto), Yuuichi Nakamura as Akira (Tomoya in Clannad), Shizuka Itou as Nanami (Hinagiku in Hayate No Gotoku), Yuko Kaida as Vera (Riza in Kaibutsu Oujo) and Jouji Nakata as Wolf (Giroro in Keroro Gunsou). I like the pop beat of the opening theme by Aiko Nakano called Friends. The ending theme by Hibiku, Tsumeato sounded like a song for a spy thriller.

At the end of most of the episodes, there will be a short comical section called Dane With The Vampire Maids. Usually shown in chibi mode, the short antics of Nero, Nera and Nelly. Whether it’s about giving Akira hell or somebody else. It’s funny and perhaps they should have made this segment a little longer since I guess this is their only place to have focus on them as compared to the episode proper. Also the end picture for each episode shows various illustrations from several different people. Since this is a SHAFT production, the animation style somewhat reminds me of Bakemonogatari in terms of the zooming in and close up to the character’s eye, especially Akira. Then the slo-mo action and movements too bear similar resemblance to that said anime. On a trivial note, I wouldn’t have known about if I didn’t stumble upon by chance. Each of the episodes in the series is named after a horror movie such as “Underworld”, “Interview With The Vampire” and “Teen Wolf”.

Unless you’re a lolicon, I don’t think seeing Mina in her little body amounts to anything fanservice. Mina’s work to her ideal kingdom for her people will be a long road. She’ll face more obstacles to come. From the establishment of her Bund kingdom to threats of other vampires who want her dead, who ever said being a vampire queen would be easy. Besides sucking blood as food and possessing super strength attributes, vampires are pretty much like us humans with emotion and feelings. Hmm… I wonder what kind of offspring would a vampire and a werewolf produce. Ugh… Don’t even want to think about it.