Saturday, March 15, 2014

Diabolik Lovers (anime TV series), via Crunchyroll

Diabolik Lovers is listed in several places as being a supernatural romance series and is based on an otome game. I consider it to be horror rather than romance. As a romance, it is awful. But more on that later.

This post contains spoilers.

Synopsis:

Yui's priest father sends her to live at a mansion after he is assigned to work somewhere else. Unfortunately, no one informed most of the mansion's inhabitants, a group of six handsome vampire brothers. She is attacked almost immediately after her arrival. The situation is soon sorted out – the boys have been told to treat Yui with respect and not kill her. So of course they spend every possible moment cornering her and drinking her blood without her consent.

Yui desperately tries to figure out what's going on – why her father sent her to the mansion, why she has been chosen to be a sacrificial bride, and what being a sacrificial bride even means. Gradually, she learns a little more about the Sakamaki brothers and their terrible past. Can she manage to escape with both her life and her soul intact?

Review:

The short version: LOTS OF BLOOD RAPE. NOPE.

But, since I watched this whole series, I will write a full review. Here you go.

This series' one saving grace was that it was short. Not only is it a mere 12 episodes long (13 if you count the completely unnecessary clips episode that was basically nothing but regurgitated blood rape), but each episode was only 15 or so minutes long. Aside from that, though, this series stank. I watched it mostly out of a sense of morbid curiosity.

I was pleasantly surprised with Yui, at first. Faced with a household full of good-looking guys who repeatedly talked of drinking her blood and, possibly, killing her, her first instinct was to get the hell out of there. Good for her! I was so glad she wasn't held spellbound by their hotness. When they prevented her from leaving and overwhelmed her with their superior strength and speed, she did her best to stay in their good graces and spent every free moment either looking for a working phone so that she could call her father or trying to figure out why she'd been sent to the mansion in the first place.

Almost halfway through the series, though, she basically gave up. When Subaru, the only vampire who hadn't yet blood raped her, gave her a weapon and told her to escape while she still could, she opted to stay and find out more about why she'd been sent to the mansion. Are you kidding me? I mean, maybe her will had been broken by the news that her father had likely sent her to the mansion knowing full well that she'd be nothing but prey. Even so, it was depressing and frustrating. I wanted her to either run far, far away or stab each of those blood-thirsty monsters at the first opportunity.

The cast of characters was basically like the cast of almost every other otome game-based series in existence. Ayato was the energetic, direct, delinquent-like guy. Kanato was the “cute one,” who always had his favorite teddy bear around. Laito was the perverted one, even more sexual in his behavior towards Yui than the others. Reiji was the glasses-wearing jerk whose behavior was more cold and analytical than that of the others. Shu was apathetic and lazy and could generally be found napping. Subaru was quiet and seemed to be more emotionally tortured than the rest.

Like I said, the series had the usual list of character types found in most every otome game. However, trying to think of this series as a romance made my skin crawl. Blood-drinking was referred to by the Sakamaki brothers as a pleasurable activity. If we consider it as being akin to sex, Yui was basically raped in almost every episode of this series. She couldn't spend more than a few minutes in the company of these characters before they grabbed her and bit her neck, thigh, wrist, or whatever other body part they could find. A few times, they gang blood raped her.

The various male characters all had mommy issues. Ayato, Kanato, and Laito were triplets. Their horrible mother, Cordelia, ruthlessly groomed Ayato to be the most accomplished son. Meanwhile, Beatrix, Shu and Reiji's mother, ruthlessly groomed Shu to be the most accomplished of her sons. Reiji felt neglected by her and grew up jealous of Shu. Subaru's mother spent her life locked in a tower, while Subaru fretted over his inability to protect her.

I assume that, once grown, the top sons by each of the mothers would have been expected to kill each other until only one, the heir, was left. However, the boys took issue with their upbringing. I'm not sure what happened to Subaru's mother, but Reiji killed Beatrix. Ayato severely injured Cordelia, Laito pushed her off a balcony, and then Kanato lit her corpse on fire. The boys' uncle, Richter, saved Cordelia's heart in order to revive her in the body of a sacrificial bride: Yui.

Most of this fun stuff took place in the final few episodes. Honestly, I would have preferred it if all the blood rape had been condensed (or even rewritten as the horrific, violent attacks they really were) and the series had been presented primarily as a dark family drama. As it was, the “romance” made my skin crawl, and the family drama was confusing and filled with holes.

The series' ending was very sudden, unsatisfying, and made me feel bad for Yui. All in all, I probably should have quit watching this after the first episode or two. Morbid curiosity is a terrible thing.

Watch-alikes and Read-alikes:
  • Vampire Knight (manga) by Matsuri Hino; Vampire Knight (anime TV series) - I've only seen half of this series and read a little of it, but, from my understanding, if you want disturbing romance, you can find it here. The main character is a high school girl, and she's caught in a love triangle between a vampire and an angry boy who hates vampires and yet is slowly becoming one. I've written about one half of the anime series and the first volume of the manga.
  • Amnesia (anime TV series) - Another series based on an otome game. If you like your romance to be mixed with horrifying aspects, you might want to give this a try. The heroine has amnesia and is repeatedly transported back to the same day, except in different realities. In each reality, she has a different boyfriend. I have written about this series.
  • Hiiro no Kakera (anime TV series) - This is probably the best otome game-based series I've seen so far, and even it was only mediocre. However, if you'd like to give another adaptation a shot, you might try this one. It has the exact same character types as Diabolik Lovers, only the end result feels more like a romance. I've written about this series.

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