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Despite all the criticism the first episode of Vampire Bund’s received I rather liked it.
It played like one of those “found footage” movies, like Cloverfield (an awesome movie) or Paranormal Activity (a not-so-awesome movie). The difference being that instead of watching some home video clip that depicted strange events, you’re watching a nationally televised TV show where weird shit just happened to go down. The fact that the episode spends far more time dealing with mundane, banal crap like celebrities hawking their latest movie and professors showing off for the girls gives it a relatively authentic vibe. It wasn’t executed to its potential, but I thought it worked.
The problem is that these “found footage” stories require a lack of awareness on part of the viewer. Advertising has to downplay the nature of the story so the “big reveal” is actually somewhat surprising. This is Vampire Bund’s main flaw. Anyone that pays attention to anime knows that this is a series about vampires, and they also now the identity of the leader of the vampires. Her mug’s been plastered all over advertising. It’s also based on a manga that’s currently running, so a sizable chunk of the audience is at least familiar with the source material. Very few people will be going into this episode with the lack of knowledge that’s needed for this sort of gimmick to work, so it isn’t going to play out as well as it could even if it was perfectly executed. Since it wasn’t “perfect,” the episode is all the weaker.
Vampire Bund was more “interesting” than genuinely “good.” I dug the fact that the rogue vamp turned into an iguana/gecko/big honkin’ lizard when he revealed his “true form.” You always get bats and wolves and stuff, but never seemingly harmless lizards with big ass tongues. That was a cool touch. I also liked the relative lack of fanservice. When the “queen” vampire triggered the jiggle-meter, it felt downright artificial compared to the relative sense of “reality” created by the episode up to that point. Kinda weird that a generic anime “bounce” can feel alien and strange, but it seemed so out-of-place given the context that it all but guaranteed that the queen wasn’t human. If they keep to that sort of detail (humans feel “real” while vamps adhere to more anime-like aesthetics), that’d be a very cool thing.
We’ll see, though. The next episode preview (or whatever that was) was all about maid vampires hitting people over the head. Vampire Bund could very well sink into suckitude (especially since everything I’ve heard about the original manga is horrible), but at least the first episode is genuinely neat.