Thursday, 7 January 2010

Dance in the Vampire Bund - Episode 1

With a spate of murders of young girls going on in a particular Japanese town, and the sole survivor of the numerous attacks sporting a pair of neat bite marks on her neck while her surroundings were all but destroyed in what appears to have been some ensuing carnage, the country appears to be going a little bit vampire crazy. But do vampires really exist?

This is the question posed by Astraea's Balance, a panel style TV show that looks to deal with hard-hitting (and not so hard-hitting no doubt) questions by posing them to celebrities and the general public alike in front of a studio audience. It's through this programme that we witness the entirety of Dance in the Vampire Bund's opening episode, as its celebrity panel sets out their stall for whichever side of the argument they reside.

From here, we see the show beginning to reveal evidence in an attempt to sway the panel, eventually bringing forth a supposed "queen of vampires" who in turn brings out what she claims to be the arm of the vampire who has committed the murders in question. It's at this point everything starts to go a little bit Blair Witch Project, as a twist in the tale brings forth chaos in the studio before laying any doubts as to the existence of vampires to rest. But why would they decide to reveal themselves on national television after all this time in hiding? All is made at least somewhat clear by the end of the episode.

Every since it was announced that SHAFT would be working on Dance in the Vampire Bund, you couldn't help but be left with an expectation that they'd try to do something special with the series wherever possible, and so it is that this opening episode takes a pretty unique take on how to kick off a new anime series, giving us the exact same experience as the viewer of a slightly trashy TV show right down to the amusing use of product placement and rather cheesy feel to it all. This actually works almost perfectly, making the most of SHAFT's ability to pull off dialogue-heavy anime with aplomb and managing to resist the temptation to give away the twist in this episode too early. That leaves us with an excellently timed and scripted opener that will doubtless stick in the mind for some time, while also introducing us to at least some of the key tenets for the rest of the series in a simple but effective way.

While the nature of this first episode makes it nigh-on impossible to judge what the rest of the series will have to hold, it's an excellent and fresh-feeling way of dragging the viewer into its grasp, and if it's anything to go by I very much doubt it'll be letting us go any time soon. Put simply, this was top drawer stuff both conceptually and in its execution.


dm00 said...

I found myself thinking: "the long-lost Akiyuki Shinbou episode of Paranoia Agent".

The half-washed-up celebrities on the panel were superbly done, especially the clowning of the old actress.

Krungie said...

Hahahah! What's with vampires turning into geckos?? I mean maybe they were trying something new with vampires since the subject is very overused, but come on... LIZARDS?

Otherwise, very nice first ep. Lots of suspense and makes us want to watch more.

Animekirk said...

I'm not sure but geckos may have some cultural significance in japanese blood sucking monster myths since i saw the exact same thing in an old ep of vampire princess miyu.

However this series is a must watch for me. vampires, good art style, adorable main character, check check double check. Can't wait for more eps to be released.