So I went into something that in all parts of rational thought might have been not the brightest thing to do. A group of people and I each received random anime that we have either barely started, dropped or have not watched. These anime must then be watched to completion. Looking back on what I have to watch it can be considered quite the mixed bag and I look forward to tackling it with full force. The first on this long list of anime that I will be watching is the anime equivalent to sexualized vampire wish fulfillment. No it’s not Vampire Knight…I actually wish it was to some regard, instead it is the cousin twice removed for various reasons, Diabolik Lovers. I will eventually be forced to dive into the second season at some point, I’m just going to give myself a bit of a break before that though. So what can I say about Diabolik Lovers that hasn’t been said before? Well not much…but hopefully there is something worth discussing.
For starters this is a cast of villains. Don’t misconstrue the attempt at humanizing them with tragic backstories or weak character arcs, every vampire in this series is a villain no questions asked. Their constant reminding of the female lead, Yui Komori, that she is indeed merely a sacrifice to them is the main focal point of a lot of these episodes. One could even call it the main focus of the story as Yui discovering her past and her purpose amongst all the sensual biting and licking is hard to take seriously. I mean I commend them for trying to do something with such a barren landscape of ideas that this story creates, but it’s not really worth investing time since why do we care for her struggles? She is the audience’s proxy as terrifying as that might be, she may struggle and say she will never submit but that doesn’t matter when you become the vampire equivalent of a scratching post. The story boils down to discovering about the vampires she has been forced to live with and being submitted to torture or being abused by them.
I’m not here to judge those who would enjoy this anime it’s just really not my thing especially since I do feel sorry for Yui in all this. There doesn’t seem to be an enjoyment through a sense of pleasure even though her moans may say otherwise. She is treated like a blood bank they can all mess with because they can, heck Twilight made more sense than that as a romantic set up. This series is making me say something good about Twilight and I feel ashamed. The setting of Diabolik Lovers is not terrible all things considered though and something I would give it a bit of a plus for. Anything roughly gothic is decent in some ways and if it was given a better story without the sexual fantasy marring it this setting would have done fine. Nothing too great but nothing that I would say shouldn’t be in a vampire series. One could say that behind the anime could beat the heart of a decent source material.
The brothers to all degrees are horrible people. It was hard to look for redeeming character values among them and so I had to look pretty closely and still I couldn’t find any for most of them. Just imagine the most abusive types of characters and then amplify that by ten because all of them have no good reason to abuse Yui other than they can. Ayato, the red-haired brat first given an episode to, is an obsessive vampire. One that wants to be doted upon, to play the child, to have “fun” at the expense of others. This is given more details about when we get into his mother, but the problem with that whole tragic backstory is that we are given no character towards the mother. She is meant to be horrible for the sake of having Ayato a reason to lash out and be cruel to people without giving us any other facet of her character. That is lazy writing attempting to just insert a point to why a character is cruel as more of a glancing moment rather than effectively showcasing it to us. While Ayato may have progression in terms of character, he never had a solid base enough to make us care for him. He was a vicious bully, and then we were meant to feel sorry for him due to one moment of expository dialogue from a character that has “bad mom” written on her forehead. And he licks his mother’s blood calling it delicious. Yeah next!
Laito is just plain annoying. A hipster wannabe spouting out fluffy words while he likes to emotionally torture Yui. Oh and he also calls her Bitch-chan. There really isn’t much more to him. Out of all of them he is just there to be pretty and sadistic, there isn’t much inconsistency with him because that means he needs to have a character. Instead all he boils down to, he wears a fedora and bites Yui in sensual areas like her thigh. That’s about it. The same goes for Shuu as he is probably the most tedious of the vampires in this series, based on the first season. He lounges about doing nothing, we are given little to go off of for his character, and he only really shows up to be active in the story for one part of an episode. He is used for a biting scene and never used again.
Kanato is random in moments due to bad character writing. Being upset at the world doesn’t give you a reason to go 180 on a dime, first dragging Yui to pick flowers for his mother to put on her grave then using those same flowers to attack his mother’s grave when he gets upset. He is this kid who gets a kick out of seeing people beneath him and is the equivalent of a schoolyard bully, but with the sociopathic tendencies of a serial killer. Then in front of his mother’s own grave he proceeds to bite Yui. I mean I don’t get why he brought her there in the first place! He wanted flowers for his mother then decides to forcefully bite Yui in front of said grave? Then presuming that women like to get kissed before being bitten is just wrong and weird and I don’t want to try and make sense of him anymore. At no point in this first season is Kanato a defined character lacking all sense of characterization besides being crazy and sadistic. Yes I know he is given a small reason, even though it is more Ayato’s reason, but still those 180 moments of pure extreme sadism are just too much to take seriously.
Subaru is almost a good character despite the trope of the gentle bad boy pervading his entire being. Much like the others, Subaru has a tragic backstory which helps to make the character we see being angsty in the present of the story. We don’t know much about it sadly as he is barely given enough time to really create more than the archetype given. Oh and he says lines like “Just be quiet and allow my fangs to enter you”. Really breaks the whole trying to find something worthwhile about the character when they say lines like that.
Reiji is probably the best out of the bunch, even though that isn’t saying much with all the ones he can be compared to. Reiji has that sense of neglect that forces him to treat others probably the way he was treated by his mother. Disregarding them, and instead seeing them as things rather beings to communicate with hence his pompous attitude towards people. He wants to be feared, wants to hide himself under this visage he created. His hatred doesn’t seem baseless compared to the others. He would feel like a decent antagonist in a series about vampires and has a decent base for a character to start off with coming off as the more competent brother. All around while he may be decent as a character, he seems like a godsend compared to the others giving us the least egregious of the cast.
I have to give the show a hand for at least giving a sense of progression plot and character wise, for attempting to have an interesting plot on its own, and having something of a drive for its characters to be who they are. The vampires might be mentally ill if I decide to go down the rabbit hole which would make their weird behaviours more understandable. Yet I don’t feel inclined in the slightest to venture there because this adaptation wasn’t given enough time and dedication to it other than the sensuality aspect. Instead it should have shown more of the complex interworking that I read about in forums saying not to look over this work. I would not have engaged with the source material otherwise beforehand since I just learned that it did have a source material while watching the series. This wouldn’t be my thing, and after watching this series it does nothing to even attempt to change that fact.
In every episode there needs to be a bite. In every episode we need to see sadistic things happen to Yui. In every episode this show tries to make you care about the story but then reminds you exactly why it exists moments after with a sadistic biting scene. This show will become infuriating if you don’t enjoy any of the above mentioned elements. This is a show for people who love the sadistic vampire that you can change through your good nature. Yes some have good ideas behind them, but when placed into this type of show they fulfill a certain archetype. They become a means for people to fawn over and fantasize about. A story lost in its own idea with no effort to make the viewer pay attention to the tragic story instead using it to bolster the appeal of the brothers. To even say they have appeal is beyond me though as most are just villains in the blandest sense yet we are supposed to feel compassion towards their one note and terribly written tragic backstories? I understand that this is an adaptation and there is probably a better written story in the source material but from what I saw in the anime, which should stand on its own, there is nothing to really rave about.
That was just one of many of the shows that I need to watch now within a years time. I decided to get one of the ones I was most hesitant on out of the way. There is still a lot more to come unfortunately…and most of them I am not looking forward to retreading, but I will do it nonetheless!
So have you watched Diabolik Lovers? What is your least favourite vampire paraphernalia? Feel free to leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have yourself a great day!