Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dance in the Vampire Bund Anime Review

Dance in the Vampire Bund
Complete Collection - 4 discs
300 min. - 12 episodes
$64.98 (2011) DVD/Blu-Ray
$69.98 (2011) Blu-Ray
ISBN: 704400013034
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Akiyuki Shinbo
Studio - Shaft

Synopsis: Vampires are real and Mina Tepes is their queen!  She reveals the existence of the vampire race on live television in spectacularly dramatic fashion.  Don't let her tween looks fool you - she's calculating and ruthless, but has a soft spot for third-year high school student Akira Kusaragi.  One year ago he had an accident and lost his memory including a childhood promise given to Mina to always stay by her side. 

That's highly inappropriate

Now she's turned his life upside down and nothing will ever be the same!  Despite being many centuries old Mina still acts like an impetuous child at times.  She has a lofty goal to establish 'The Bund' on a small island off Japan - a sanctuary for vampires and especially 'fangless' vampires (those choosing to remove their fangs and attempt to live normal human lives).  Her position as queen of the vampires is highly political and she must deal with vampire terrorist groups, 'true blood' aristocratic vampire nobles, and human politicians trying to block establishment of 'The Bund'.

Akira must regain his memory in order to save Mina and along the way discovers an affinity which startles him greatly.  She wrecks his school life, wears inappropriate clothing, and gets jealous of his girl friend Yuki.  All the while a dense political scheme grinds in the background with an explosive finish.

Pros: Great animation, good opening/ending theme songs & visuals, some fan-service, very brief nudity, good mix of modern with old vampire lore, relationship of Mina and Akira is touching and well-played, nice action scenes, unedited as far as I can tell

That's even more inappropriate
Cons: Differs from the original manga version (which is ten times racier), Mina's body is that of a barely pubescent girl and it's a little pervy to watch her, high school girl shows inappropriate feelings for young boy neighbor, first episode is actually pretty awful (it gets better in episode 2), pricey

Mike Tells It Straight: This show is one of the best vampire-themed anime you'll find.  It feels vibrant and hip, but naughty as well.  There is plenty of action and good characterization - the story progresses and secrets are revealed.  Great visual animation style and production values.  Although I've never heard of the anime studio Shaft it's pretty good.    I would rank this up there with Blood+ (another highly popular, but much longer vampire anime), but prefer the Bund because the characters have actual personalities. 

Lolicon - get it?

Why is this anime not for everyone?  "Lolicon" - the Japanese version of the "Lolita complex" where underage girls are portrayed in sexually suggestive poses, clothing or situations.  Mina's character is many centuries old, but inhabits the body of a child - a thinly-veiled excuse for lolicon and potentially offensive to viewers.  Reminds me of the character Claudia in Interview with the Vampire (portrayed by Kirsten Dunst in the movie). 
I thought Mina's sexual ambiguity was a risk that paid off for the producers.  Vampires are portrayed as dangerous and sexy - what better way to push the envelope than having a lolicon queen of the vampires?  It gave the love shared between her and Akira a poignant quality.  Overall much better than I expected, not for the squeamish, and absolutely not for the kiddies. 

TO BUY and Recommendations: