Synopsis: Mitsugu Banba is a high school girl who finds meaning in donating blood. She frequently visits a blood bank to donate blood, despite being harshly treated by the nurse. One day, she encounters a beautiful girl who looks like she’s from overseas at the blood bank. The pale girl looks like she’s about to faint any minute, but then, she starts destroying the blood bank. The girl loses consciousness and Mitsugu takes her home…
I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’m not all that enthused to watch anime. A major reason is simply because it feels like most of these shows are super similar and lack any sort of originality. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen almost all of them. But then an anime like Vlad Love comes along and turns out to be so weird and all over the place that your faith in anime humanity is restored for a minute.
On paper, Vlad Love doesn’t sound all that different from other vampire anime, but whereas a vampire anime like Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san plays it very safe and just ends up being a stereotypical cutesy comedy that happens to have vampires, Vlad Love goes a completely different route and the end result is chaotic and strange and surprisingly fun.
From episode to episode, it’s hard to know for sure what you’re going to see, but no matter what weird gags this anime had up its sleeve, I thoroughly enjoyed the comedy in this show. Slapstick humor isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, yet I never grew tired of it, and I thought that this show was definitely funnier than your typical comedy.
The originality is great, but at the same time, all of this random exposition takes time away from progressing the story, and then there are episodes that are almost completely detached from the rest of the story. Episode nine comes to mind, which is some weird homage to a surrealist Japanese cartoonist, and it felt to me like that episode killed the momentum that the show had built up to that point. Probably no one watching this will care about any of the random exposition that this show had to offer, so I don’t even know why it was included at all.
I get that this is a comedy and the story probably shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but a lot of the episodes feel like stand-alone stories that don’t fit together as a cohesive whole. This continues all the way till the end, when we finally get a little bit of development on the story front, but by then, the show is essentially over. To me, it’s not a dealbreaker or anything, though I would’ve liked to have seen the story given more urgency and for it to amount to something more.
Despite the questionable “endless gags over narrative” approach, I still thought that the story was more interesting than it had any right being, and maybe it’s just recency bias, but this story felt more memorable to me than some other “better” anime stories. 😛
While I didn’t like everything about the story, I have to say that I was a big fan of the cast of characters. Unlike most anime, you won’t find any cute little characters that resemble grade school kids, but almost everyone in the cast brought something interesting into the fold.
Banba was the likable main character that also happened to be this show’s resident yuri character, and despite her being a blood donation enthusiast, she was often the voice of reason, believe it or not. But back to her status as this show’s yuri character. Banba was clearly head over heels for Mai, the vampire, but it never appeared that Mai had any kind of romantic interest in Banba. While Banba was doing what she could to protect her, Mai only seemed interested in blood, and because there’s so much other crazy stuff happening, the focus shifts off of their relationship for long portions at a time, so you might even forget that this was supposed to be a “girl meets girl” story.
I’m probably not alone in saying that I expected more yuri from this show. I seem to say that phrase a lot in these reviews, but only because the creators of those works seem content only adding in a bit of yuri and calling it a wrap. And before I forget, as a character, Mai was fine, though unlike many other aspects of this anime, I thought she seemed more cliché and forgettable than some of the other characters. I was a little surprised by that.
Speaking of the other characters, many of them get a good amount of screentime, so it’s a good thing that almost all of them turned out to be pretty entertaining. While Maki (captain of the cinema club), Nami (captain of the dance club), Kaoru (captain of the cosplay club), Masumi (captain of the karate club), and Jinko (discipline committee chairman) each had many entertaining moments, without question my favorite character in the entire show was Chihiro, the school nurse.
Voiced by Romi Park, out of all of the characters, she was probably the most over-the-top, and I loved the dynamic between her and the members of the blood donation club. To me, they couldn’t have cast anyone better for the role, and I never knew how much I’d love the combination of her authoritative voice alongside physical humor.
I guess this show wasn’t actively promoted as a yuri anime per se, but I expected it to be a more integral part of the show than what it turned out being. However, aside from that, I thought that the characters were extremely entertaining, and there isn’t much for me to complain about on that front.
Where Vlad Love shined brightest to me was the artwork used in numerous episodes where someone’s backstory was being explained. This was mostly static artwork that had very little animation, yet the art is so good that I didn’t even mind. I would gladly take that over the typical animation that you get from 99% of anime nowadays. A lot of the background art in this show is also quite nice, even though this style differs from the standard character art.
As for the sound, it predictably doesn’t stand out as much as the visuals, yet the music was nevertheless pretty nice, and it was more than able to keep up with the show’s frequent changes in tone. Voice acting is top-notch, but given the A-list names involved, that’s to be expected. I should also mention how this had two OPs that alternated throughout the season. I was a big fan of both, since I liked seeing the girls portrayed as rock stars in the first one, and I simply liked the BlooDye song of the second one. All in all, the production values of this show were pretty high.
I think it’s safe to say that Vlad Love can be called a guilty pleasure anime, and judging by its MAL score, not everyone will appreciate what this show has to offer. But compared to most comedy anime, this show felt far more refreshing to me… though perhaps they overdid it with all of the obscure references and long-winded exposition. And those tuning in for some yuri might be disappointed by how this show gets away from that. Still, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy Vlad Love, warts and all, and as unlikely as it may be, I’m hoping to see Banba and Mai’s story continue with another season~
+ Feels more unique and refreshing than your typical anime
+ Some really nice slapstick/physical humor
+ Very entertaining cast of characters
– C’mon, Mai! Show Banba some love!!!
– Littered with time-consuming obscure references that few people will get
– Maybe too random for its own good
Total Enjoyment: 7