First Impressions: Dance in the Vampire Bund

After looking up what a “bund” is,

I still wasn’t prepared for this.

Before I begin, let me just say that yes, I had to look up what a “bund” is. For anyone else in my boat, according to teh interwebz a “bund” is an embankment or an embanked quay. Now that we have that little mystery solved, it’s time to proceed.

Mina Tepes: giving a whole new meaning to the song "Hungry Eyes."

Oh anime. I love you dearly, I truly do, but sometimes the s**t you try to get away with goes too far. Like, oh, say how porny some anime is, and how young some of the anime girls are. Put the two together and it’s one giant, “Ewwwwww.” Because I love vampires and I love anime I had actually heard of this one, and I’d also read the warnings regarding the main vampire character, Mina, and her youthful appearance/ecchi situations. But then I saw that Funimation released it, and Funimation has a track record of being the least porny out of all of the North American studios, at least in my experience so far. So hey, it’s Funimation, it’s vampire anime, let’s give this one a shot!

What she's really asking: "Are you a mail order bride?"

Episode one mostly revolves around a television show. Seems that someone has been biting young girls and tearing up the streets, so this fun opinion talk show gets together a panel of B-list celebs and debates the validity of claims that vampires exist. I kept waiting for the TV show to fade away into the background in order to get to the actual story, but too bad for me, the entire first episode is seen through the eyes of the show’s camera. It’s kind of an interesting concept for an initial episode, but I was definitely over it by the time the “professor” guest started pontificating for the second time. Long story short, we have this never-ending debate among these vile celebs (the English voice of the “actress” guest must have been going for Joan Rivers because every time she spoke it was like nails on a chalkboard) complete with vampire facts shared by an overly buxom gal in dominatrix clothes who claims to work for the head vampire princess. She’s brought the severed arm of the vampire who was on a rampage in the hopes of luring it out of hiding, and just as all the clichéd celeb stereotypes on the panel have decided that vampires really don’t exist, rampage vamp shows up! Cue shock. He grabs his arm, transforms into a giant chameleon monster thing(?!?) and runs to the roof, but he’s stopped by the head ruler of all the vampires, princess Mina Tepes. (Y’know, as in Vlad Tepes. As in Dracula.) She’s pissed, so you can guess what happens to lizard-vamp. Then she turns to the camera, gives a little speech about how vampires exist and to keep your eyes on the bund, and then the credits roll.

The question was, "Do you like kiddie porn?" If only that had been the animators' answer.

I did not care for this episode in the slightest. I thought that the art was too bright and garish, first of all. Perhaps that was mostly for the benefit of the faux television show, but it was not fun to watch, imho. As I mentioned above, the TV show was kind of a novel introduction to this world that’s just now learning of the existence of vampires, but you barely get to meet the main vampire, let alone anyone else, and no one seemed that interesting or appealing yet. Speaking of coming out on TV, I know that it was explained as a way to lure the rogue vamp out of hiding, but it seemed kind of stupid to me. Why not hold a press conference? Why choose a cheesy television program? And was that seriously the only way to get lizard-vamp to show? With all of the combined forces of the oldest vampire powers on the planet, trundling out a severed arm on a tacky TV show was the best that you could come up with? Needless to say, I was not impressed. (True Blood handles vamps integrating within society much better, in this Trubie’s opinion.) Finally, we come to the underage elephant in the room. I was afraid throughout the entire first episode that something supremely ecchi would happen with Mina, so I sighed with relief when we made it through without anything questionable. And then the end credits began, complete with a background picture of prepubescent Mina in lingerie. Gross. Y’know, I don’t care if she’s supposed to be 1,846,031 years old. If she looks like a 10 year-old and she’s in lingerie, it’s in poor taste. (What is this, French Vogue?) And from the screenshots that I’ve seen online, it gets worse. Note to animators: Claudia in Interview with the Vampire is one example of handling an eternal child vamp well. Let her admire older women’s chests, maybe drain a few, then talk about her feelings while wearing miniature ball gowns. Lingerie, or seductive poses, or nudity are completely wrong and off-limits. How is this not common knowledge?!?

I know that there’s probably more to this tale, but I just don’t think that I can stomach getting there.

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Justin
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 08:35:01

    Hmm. Interesting thoughts. I have not gotten into the series (Manga or anime), but I have heard some things about it, positively in some cases, negatively in a lot. It makes me wonder what you think when you read this: http://mkmiku.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/what-is-loli/

    Reply

    • Miss Pink
      Aug 31, 2011 @ 17:56:08

      Interesting article, thanks for sharing! 🙂
      For me personally, I don’t mind moe or lolis, but there has to be a line. If it’s cute for cute’s sake (aka Hunny in “Ouran High School Host Club”) then it’s great. But if it gets too sexual (aka Ms. Shikijo’s shota complex in “Mahoromatic”) I find it disturbing. It’s a personal call. 😛

      Reply

  2. dominic
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 16:29:36

    Um, what’s wrong the French Vouge? I think you mean that Vouge affiliated children’s magazine in france… ? Either way, I don’t think you said what you meant there.

    BUT BACK TO THE MAIN SUBJECT who appointed you high judge of taste? I’ve seen Last Tango in Paris (widely regarded to be a great movie) and movies like Blue Velvet (one of the greatest movies of all time) and both of those (lemme guess… you probably haven’t even heard of these movies, right?) dealt with taboo subjects and were fabulous movies (IMHO), and how about Lolita (I know… it’s hard for you to discuss since I doubt you’ve read this either) one of the greatest American novels ever written and that has sex scenes involving an underage girl.

    So no, you can’t say something is tasteless just because of the subject matter (what are you — The Christian Science Monitor?), hell take another famous novel, Hitler’s Niece — a romance involving Hitler? And the love interest is his niece? But it was a great book none the less and did not in the least marginalize the horrors he wrought. Hypothetically you can have a good anime/manga/book/movie/TV show about ANYTHING. Something can only be tasteless because of HOW it deals with the subject matter, not BECAUSE of the subject matter.

    For example how about a documentary about how horrible it is our culture sexualizes children? Would that be tasteless? We have tons of movies and books with child molester villains, plenty of which are fabulous, do you find them all tasteless because they sexualize children? Of course not. Then is it tasteless because it doesn’t beat you over the head with some moral condemnation of their romance? That’s an opinion sure, you can’t just say the subject is inherently offensive because it makes you go “ick”. How about the Holocaust? That’s a lot more shudder inducing. Maybe we should just never talk about things that make us uncomfortable?

    But that’s also not cogent because movies are saturated with violence in America, every time I go to the movies it’s thrillers and slashers and all this bullshit about how killing people can be morally acceptable. I’m not even gonna bother searching your archives because I know just cause you’re an American or a brit (one of those english countries) you liked some violent movie/anime/whatever. I find a lot of what happens in those movies morally reprehensible (I’m a pacifist for that matter) but there are some very good thrillers I’ve enjoyed — and a few good slashers for that matter, because guess what? Movies, anime and shit — they aren’t real life. So EVEN IF an anime features acts you find morally reprehensible you still have to ask, did it feature them in a convincing way? Are the characters or story interesting enough to make you look past it? Why did they fail? I don’t know, you never told me.

    Roger Ebert (he’s a movie critic since I’m assuming you haven’t heard of him) is a guy you probably could learn a lot from in regards to reviewing, he sees thousands of movies a year and one move which he always names as one of his most hated movies of all time is “I Spit On Your Grave” an appalling movie about a girl who gets gang raped four times (on screen!) and then kills her attackers in horrifyingly brutal ways (on screen!) Roger Ebert hated it so deeply not because of these elements but because that was the entire point of the movie. It was an exercise in violence and rape for vicarious criminals. Is that what Vampire Bund is? Does it appeal, in your opinion, exclusively to pedophiles? I don’t know, you never told me.

    You promise in your header you never give spoilers. Maybe you should tweak that policy a bit. Because this is a fairly long First Impression and I have NO CLUE what you think about this anime other than that you think the concept of a Lolicon style romance is icky (welcome to the club, me too, so do all non-pedophiles (although there can be good lolicon style stuff (like Usagi Drop) with broader appeal) you need more then that to make this a useful review, anyone who “wiki”s this will know it’s lolicon). A “review” should not be a game of hide and seek with the writers opinions, that’s what’s known as a “product description”… except it doesn’t work as that either because I don’t even know the PLOT after reading this, and btw I think the lizard thing counts as a spoiler. I think you may be the first reviewer I’ve seen who can give major spoilers but still leave readers wondering what the plot is.

    Ah… and here I am AGAIN pointlessly ranting because I’ve just lost another 5 minutes of my life to some blog (20 now cause of this stupid comment). SORRY if this seems harsh but according to your little archives drop down you’ve been running this site for months and SOMEONE needs to break this to you, I’ve had people similarly give me a smackdown many, many times and I hope you take this in the spirit it was intended, which is one of constructive (albeit brutal) criticism.

    And cheer up, my blog is no more popular then yours so why should you care what I say anyways? Endless criticism accompanies all writers.

    (p.s. I’ve read a bit of the manga and I thought you’d like to know it was a press conference in the manga — and you were right, I think that does work better)

    Reply

    • Miss Pink
      Aug 31, 2011 @ 17:45:18

      Oh my, I seem to have struck a chord here.
      About French “Vogue” (yes, I mean the French version of “Vogue” fashion magazine): there was a kerfuffle a few months ago in which 6- and 10-year-old girls were being photographed in provocative poses. It stirred quite a tizzy. I link to an article about it in my initial post.

      I don’t claim to be a high judge of…well, anything, actually. I’m just sharing my opinions about the anime that I watch. As I state in my “About,” I only recently got into anime, so this blog is just a complete newbie’s take on anime and manga. I don’t claim to be either the Roger Ebert or Gene Siskel of anime, I’m just a random person who thought I’d check out something new and document the effort. I would hope that anyone who happens to read my blog would watch anime and form their own opinions.

      Point of fact, I *can* say that something is tasteless because of a subject matter. That doesn’t mean that it’s tasteless to everyone, but I’m certainly entitled to my personal opinion, even if that opinion is “ewww.” And just because I find one thing tasteless does not mean that I’m closed-minded. I’m a David Lynch fan, and I’ve also read “Lolita” as well as seen both the Kubrick and Lyne film versions. (I prefer the Lyne version; it makes Humbert seem much more sympathetic.) I don’t care for violent films, and the few that I do enjoy have to have a good underlying story at their core. And for the record, I don’t think that I’ve ever found any child molester movie villain to be “fabulous,” I find them icky. That stuff aside, all I claim to do in this blog is share my opinions, nothing more. I, personally, found the end credits distasteful and unnecessary. Perhaps it makes more sense if you watch the rest of the series, but I haven’t gotten to that yet. In fact…

      To address another point, this particular entry isn’t a review of the entire season in question, it’s just my initial response to the first episode. I recently began reviewing anime series after only the first episode, before I’ve seen any more or made a point to read up on the series, then going back and re-reviewing after I’ve completed it. I thought that it would be interesting since there have been some series that I disliked after one episode, then grew to really enjoy later on (re: “Guin Saga”). But I should make a note of exactly what the “First Impressions” entries are in my “About” section, so thank you for reminding me.

      You’re right, I didn’t share the plot of the series as a whole, because I don’t know it yet! I know that Mina gets involved in some sort of romance, but that’s all. My “First Impressions” are meant as more of a laugh than anything. Actually, you could say that about this blog in general. I don’t write anime, I don’t draw anime, and I certainly don’t get paid to review it. I just thought that it would be neat to keep a record of everything that I watch, and if it gets someone else interested in a series that I review, excellent, the more the merrier.

      I apologize if the lizard thing is a major spoiler, although you seem to be familiar with this series, so I’m assuming it didn’t spoil anything for you. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me, and note that I don’t give away the identity of said lizard vampire. My rule of thumb is, if I would be upset about knowing it in advance, then I leave it out. It’s a rule that fluctuates by individual, so I just call ‘em like I see ‘em.

      I will say that you make a lot of assumptions about me based on the fact that I didn’t enjoy one episode of one anime. To be fair, I daresay you probably abhor several of my favourite series, but I won’t belittle or begrudge you over that. “‘To each his own,’ said the man as he kissed the cow.” (<–quote from a former teacher)

      I will say that I was probably influenced by the warnings that I caught here and there in regards to this particular series. However, for my silly first episode review to have inspired such a prolific comment, there must be something special about this series. Hence you have inspired me to continuing watching it. Well done!

      No worries, it’s the internet, if someone isn’t flaming you, then ur doin it wrong.

      Say, you’re not one of the animators taking offense, are you? If so I’m quite flattered that you took the time to read my little blog. 😉

      At any rate, thanks for the comments!

      Reply

      • dominic
        Aug 31, 2011 @ 18:12:29

        OK, I disagree completely but I can see it’s pointless to press the issue.

        Read the manga instead (or also), it’s considerably different — the creator of the manga told the director of the TV adaption he didn’t think it would translate to the screen very well and told him to change it as he saw fit and do whatever the hell he wanted with it, the director is a horror director mainly (all the titles are inside jokes about horror movies) so he made it more action, less romance, but actually stayed pretty faithful, a lot of times he merely changed the settings of scenes (like Game Show reveal instead of Press Conference). The Gaudiness is part of his style, so that won’t change farther in either. I like both (so far, I haven’t got passed episode six of the anime… rural internet) but they’re just very different. The manga I think also is much more aiming to be “high art” it’s sort of like a Peter S. Beagle type tale for a while.

        Although the last few volumes of the manga have absolutely sucked come to think of it, it’s good, great, then straight downhill into being sort of a trashy thriller… hopefully it’ll come back up. Oh well. And if you don’t like Loli there’s a scene you’re really going to need to fast-foward through in episode two. 0_o And that’s all I’ll say about that.

        And don’t try to be Gene Siskel, please. What a stuck-up douche.

      • dominic
        Aug 31, 2011 @ 18:19:09

        Three other things, (1) all the Lolita movies have sucked (2) I know what a First Impression is, I meant the plot of the episode (3) I dare you to try to belittle me for my dislike of some of your favorite series, the only ones I dislike are the ones that are bad anime and I’d bet I could render you unable to defend them with one arm tied behind my back.

      • Miss Pink
        Sep 01, 2011 @ 12:22:06

        Ooo, I like Peter S. Beagle (well, I like his work, I’ve never met the man himself) so next time I’m in a bookstore I’ll look for the manga to check out. Thanks for the suggestion!
        But please don’t tie yourself up in knots over this. I don’t expect everyone to like the anime that I like, and I certainly don’t like everything that I watch! (Especially mecha. I’ve never enjoyed stories about robots and machinery for some reason.) 😉

  3. JiHooFan
    Aug 31, 2011 @ 19:57:20

    Boy…Thanks for the warning Miss Pink! I watched the first episode of this one and agree with your impressions…maybe it’s the Puritan legacy trickling through my DNA, but I despise unnecessary nudity in any form of entertainment, especially when it involves waaaaaay too young people (actual age or physical appearance of youth). If it serves no purpose to forward the story, why not draw a tasteful high-necked ensemble??? 🙂

    Reply

    • Miss Pink
      Sep 01, 2011 @ 12:10:36

      I understand that fan service can be one of the draws to anime (Get it? Draws to anime? Hee hee) and I don’t always mind it, though most of the time I overlook it as opposed to actually enjoying it. But when it comes to vampires, my favourites are the elegant aristocrats in full royal regalia! 😉

      Reply

  4. MkMiku
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 01:56:22

    I’ve had this series on hold forever. And I admit that the only reason I picked it up for was because of Studio SHAFT. I’ve only seen two episodes and I already hate it, but I don’t want to drop it either or else it’ll foil my “watch-every-SHAFT-anime” goal. :/

    Reply

    • Miss Pink
      Sep 01, 2011 @ 12:14:04

      I feel your pain! I’m a completist, and it kills me to stop watching a series before it’s finished, anime or otherwise. Right now I’m watching season 2 of “Maria Holic,” and the subtitles and words on the side and little notes at the top give me a headache whenever I watch it, *plus* the episodes have been boring. I’m *this* *close* to dropping it, but then what if it gets good in the next episode… 😉

      Reply

      • MkMiku
        Sep 01, 2011 @ 18:49:28

        I didn’t used to be this way, but I dropped a lot of series in the past, so now–like you–I like to see things to the end. If I paused for every single thing, it would take me forever. I haven’t watched season 2 yet, although I’ve hardly hard any good things bout it. D:

      • Miss Pink
        Sep 01, 2011 @ 20:36:16

        Yeah, thus far it’s pretty much the same: nosebleeds, nosebleeds, nosebleeds! It’s getting rather old. 😛

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