Dance in the Vampire Bund: The Complete Series
Publisher: MADMAN / FUNimation
Languages: English Dub, Japanese Dub with English subs
Release Date: 17-08-2011
Price: $59.95 Blu-ray/DVD – Buy Now!
There are many different types of anime that can be considered a bit controversial in their time. Usually it is due to the content that is shown. For example, the anime Strike Witches involved girls flying around in either swimsuits or with no pants on at all, and some could call it controversial because of that. On the other hand we have the recently released Dance in the Vampire Bund.
Dance in the Vampire Bund originally started as a manga series created by Nozomu Tamaki back in 2006. The series is still going on in Japan today and last year they created an anime adaptation. Now FUNimation has localized the series for release in North America, though there is something a bit different about Dance in the Vampire Bund, the main character is a sexualized female vampire that has the body of a young girl. With FUNimation’s release being uncensored, how does the show stand up to the light of day?
What would you do if there were real life vampires living among you right now? Of course that is a question that most of us don’t even have to think about. Though in the world of Dance in the Vampire Bund, supposed vampire attacks have been on the rise and a Japanese television show has brought together a number of people to pose the question about the vampire’s existence.
The members being asked are a comedian, a manga creator who writes stories about vampires, an intelligent professor, a pretty looking but air-headed model and a handsome actor who acts in the live action adaptation of the manga creator’s works. During the show, a special guest appears and says she herself is a vampire and also has the arm of the vampire causing the various attacks with her. The entire show itself is a set-up for the rogue vampire and is also the stage where the Princess of all the vampires in the world reveals their existence.
Her name is Mina Tepes, a young looking girl with blond hair from Romania. She may appear innocent at first, but she is a direct descendant of Vlad the Impaler, the original vampire. By revealing their existence on live television, Mina lets the world know that vampires do indeed exist and she explains that she has a plan to create a special country only for vampires out of an abandoned bund (piece of land). Though things aren’t going to be quite that simple for the newly revealed vampire princess, not only are there political forces against her, but even those of her own kind lurking in the darkness.
Although she has not only just revealed that their long hidden race exists, but has also declared she will create a Vampire Bund for them, Mina has her own thoughts. Of course what else could it be but a high school boy? The high School boy in question is named Akira; though Akira has a unique problem of his own, the fact that he is suffering amnesia and barely remembers anything about himself, let alone the vampire princess.
Through a number of circumstances, Akira works to protect Mina and put together his shattered memories. Who exactly is Akira and why does Mina work so hard to get him to remember a “promise” they made so many years ago.
Dance in the Vampire Bund’s story is rather enjoyable. At first the show appears to follow the “monster of the week” routine but quickly sheds that limitation as the intricacies of the vampire world slowly unravel and reveal themselves. Vampire Bund’s storyline can be boiled down to a romance story and misunderstandings between Mina and Akira, political maneuverings and blackmailing, as well as a small tinge of a school drama thrown in.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of bloody fights to expect and each fight sequence has a nice build up that explains what is going on and provides a decent amount of storyline. Akira’s amnesia, combined with Mina and her two-sided personality should help keep the viewer interested and eager to watch the next episode, especially when things start to heat up on the second disc when it is revealed that not even some of the vampires agree with Mina’s bund idea.
Any anime follower who sees that the show was created by Shaft Studio should know roughly what to expect here. The animation they use is rather effective at times and provides enough darkness and shadow to create a gothic-styled atmosphere. The color palette is extremely varied and vivid, with the environment sometimes being full of darkness and other times being quite colorful, especially with the vibrant looking Mina taking center stage quite often.
Shaft’s style of extreme zoom-ins return as the show often zooms into a character’s eye or a specific body part. There is also a number of times that the screen will flash to pure red or yellow which is a bit odd to say the least, and almost appears like the show has had an extreme censor color in the entire screen. There are also plenty of moments when the characters are talking to each other. There is very little actual body animation during conversation which makes the whole experience feel superficial at times.
That being said, the character designs themselves, barring Mina though she will be addressed shortly, are rather plain. Akira has your generic main male character look and the other characters in the show are designed rather simply and don’t break many molds as far as looks are concerned. Now earlier I mentioned that Dance in the Vampire Bund could be a bit controversial, and the reason is Mina herself.
Mina may be many centuries old, but nearly all the time throughout the show she appears to be no older than twelve years old. This means that her body is exactly that developed and she has acts as though there is nothing wrong with that at all. Early on in the series, Akira has to cover Mina in a special lotion that protects vampires from turning to dust in the sun called Shade Gel. Mina then strips out of her clothes leaving only her panties on. Akira then has to rub the lotion all over her body and, being as FUNimation released the series uncensored, she is entirely nude. There are a number of other scenes where Mina is either fully nude or extremely close to it.
Now I’ve seen plenty of anime and the nudity on display in Dance in the Vampire Bund isn’t really there for fan service portions, but more to show that Mina cares little about how she is perceived and even does it to make Akira uncomfortable. While this may not bother me, some viewers may be a little uncomfortable at the number of times they will see twelve year old looking bared breasts on a centuries old vampire.
FUNimation’s Dance in the Vampire Bund release provides both the original Japanese dub as well as the English dub for those who prefer not to read about what is happening at any given time. The original Japanese voice work is well suited enough, but the true test is with the English cast. Unfortunately not a lot of the English voice workers really stand out from the crowd. As she did in the graphical department however, Mina is given a great voice by veteran Monica Rial.
As for the actual music, there really isn’t a lot to mention because most of the background music doesn’t do a great job standing out, except for occasionally during a battle. The opening theme “Friends” by Aiko Nakano is an enjoyable piece, though something you may begin to fast forward through the third time through. The ending song is “Tsumeato” by Hibiku and is actually used twice throughout the show to different ending videos. The piece actually is much more impressive when listened to during the second ending sequence, simply because the first one is only a still image that is unimpressive and lacking.
Dance in the Vampire Bund has a rather large quantity of characters, which helps reinforce the large scale of the vampire world they are trying to express. This creates a small problem however, as the anime tends to only focus on the two main characters and a little bit on one of the side characters with little actual character development outside of these three.
Our hero is a high school boy named Akira. Akira lost all of the memories of his past and only makes it through his high school days through the support of others, especially his close female friend Yuki. His life as a relatively normal high schooler ends when Mina names him her servant and head protector. Once Mina enters his school he begins to recover some of his memories, and finds that he is much more than human, especially with that weakness to silver…
Mina Tepes is the main heroine of Dance in the Vampire Bund and is also the Princess of the vampire race. She has the appearance of a twelve year old child but actually has lived for centuries longer. Her childish and cute demeanor may be how she acts openly, but beneath that is a cunning and brutal ruler who will stoop to anything to fulfill her wishes. Even if this means kidnapping a small child and threatening his life only to get what she wants. She has a deep affection for Akira and can become very agitated whenever her connection with him is threatened.
Finally out of the main characters, we have Akira’s best friend Yuki. Despite his loss of memory Yuki has always cared for Akira and helped him despite his previous inability to help himself. She feels initially feels threatened by Mina due to her closeness with Akira, but after the Student Council President Nanami goes missing and believed dead, she realizes Mina is much more than just a threat to her crush. Surprisingly Yuki undergoes some of the most character development throughout the series as she often provides narratives at the end of an episode and comes to accept the changes in the world around her and adapt to them.
There are a few extras to be had on the discs, though a number of it is promotional material. This includes the original commercials for the show when it was advertised in Japan as well as the promotional video that was shown. We are also given the standard clean opening and closing video and a number of trailers for either recently released anime from FUNimation or upcoming releases.
Besides this promotional material, the Intermission 1-12 is quite enjoyable. This intermission offers twelve different scenes that take pages from Nozomu Tamaki’s manga and are given narration by the original Japanese voice cast. These intermissions help fill in gaps of the story and provide additional story information on some of the characters.
In a world where vampires and werewolves have been corrupted by a certain novel series which shall go unsaid, it is refreshing to see a new outlook on these two monster races. The focus is heavy on the vampires and Mina herself is quite obviously the highlight of the show. Some people may have a small issue with the nudity in the show but it is not something that viewers should be concerned about, as it is not something flaunted heavily nor even focused on when it is occurring.
There are a number of strange decisions with the animation and the plot, although full of twists and occasional action, may be a bit slow for some as political maneuverings, no matter how vicious, are not everyone’s cup of tea. Despite this Dance in the Vampire Bund provides an enjoyable watch that should make vampire story lovers happy as well as provide a bit of romance to sweeten the deal.
I give Dance in the Vampire Bund: The Complete Series