Thursday, December 12, 2013

Things No One Cares About:Diabolik Lovers

As most are aware,vampires have taken a turn for the romantic in recent years due to books like Twilight and Vampire Knight. Becoming beautiful creatures that are more focused on protecting a boring girl rather than whatever it is vampires regularly do. Maybe abduct ladies and give orphans a motif. Either way times have changed and vampires have changed. Diabolik Lovers knows this and wants the audience to regret ever having played into them.

Diabolik Lovers is brutal and sicking show that aired during the 2013 Fall anime season. Taking the current vampire trends and tropes and turning them on their head. Using your typical reverse harem plot and turning it into an unwanted harem in the worst way. It also manages to use the vampires more sexual connections to delve into the psychology of an abusive relationship. It all forms this wonderfully disturbing show that is not for the feint of heart.

The anime is based of the visual novel of the same name and since I can't really read Japanese I have no idea how faithful the adaptation is nor do I care. The story follows a young girl named Yui who goes to live with the Sakamaki brothers due to her father's job. She learns that they are vampires and then some terrible things happen to her. Noting even view her as a person but treating her as an object for their amusement.

The official synopsis that is given for this series honestly makes it sound completely ridiculous and it's honestly half the reason I watched it:for cheap laughs. Taking the plot at face value it is fairly silly with a heavy dose of the Grand Theft Me trope but does have equal amounts of foreshadowing so it's not out of nowhere. That is okay because while Slayer's plots are a vehicle for the comedy here it's a vehicle for the horrors of the cycle of abuse. Before we go any further lets' explain the cycle of abusive just so we are on the same page.

The Cycle of abuse is a four step model developed by Lenore Walker back in the 1970's that describes the nature of an abusive relationship. The first step is tension building,which is the lead up to the actual abusive outburst. Here the victim will try to change there behavior to prevent an outburst. The acting out phase is just that. Then there is the reconciliation phase which is where we see the I can change routine most often. It can also be where we see just flat out ignoring of the incident. Finally we go into the calm phase where the relationship normalizes before going back into tension building. It's a vicious cycle that can go on for years due to the hope of things getting better.

Our main character Yui is constantly trying to change her actions to keep one of the six brothers at peace and it almost always fails. The brothers attack her through insults and placing blame on her. Sooner or later they move to the acting out phase which is usually the sucking of her blood in increasingly sexual ways. Often implying that she likes it just to hurt her even more. After that they move right into disregarding the incident and throwing her aside. After that she normalizes for about half an episode and gets drawn right back in.

It is sicking to see it happen so many times yet Yui won't do anything about it due to fear for her own life. Again something that is probably a fear of many abuse victims and it can keep them in the relationship. She has a chance to escape about mid way through the series but stays due to a hope that things will get better if a certain mystery is solved. This mystery for the most part does remain a mystery due to lack of explanation. On the flip side of that all the boys are given a reason for why they are so abusive that stems back to Coredlia, one of their fathers three wives. It doesn't make what they do acceptable but again it shows how the abused can become the abuser.

As the show progress and we learn the above mentioned reasons for the abuse it,the plot slowly moves into confronting this behavior by having the boys work through their mommy issues. It helps keep the plot watchable because again the plot is pretty silly. Once they are free of these past issues they are able to finally move on. The final part also implies that Yui has become a vampire and now the boys actual do view her as a person. This signals the end of the abuse and maybe some happiness for all involved.

The above ending happens about halfway through the episode then the credits roll. After that is each guy telling her why they should pick him. Maybe that's how it happened in the game but here it's a little jarring. This is a show that for the most part avoided feeling like a visual novel. Some adaptions like Clannad and Stein's Gate had the feeling of going through routes however here that's not present. It made the story feel more organic and flow better. However this scene just sort of throws a monkey wrench into that and feels forced.

The six boys themselves all have a  personality and abuse style that is fleshed out well enough given the shows fairly short run time(fifteen minutes per episode for twelve episodes). Ayato is sort of pushed to be the be true pairing as he does show the most actual interest in Yui. Tending to favor insults about appearance and displays of power . Laito uses the feeling of being watched/stalked to keep her in check and continually refers to her as Bitch-chan. The more childish Kanato has temper tantrums and tries to twist Yui's kind nature into something sinister. The two oldest brothers Reiji and Shu are usually too busy to outright abuse her as they save their hate for each other. They still use her if for nothing else to destroy her sense of what little safety she has. Suburu is the kindest of the brothers and really doesn't due much to her due to being more of a broken person.

Their own back stories are pretty sparse told through mini-flashbacks and one odd time travel style episode. They have just enough characterization to give them some distinction but not truly enough to make them the complex characters they could be. Maybe given a little more time it could work out but as it stands they are just average characters.

The animations is a more traditional Gothic look that heightens the fear and anxiety that the script is playing out. The main mansion has a very old feel that invokes your more traditional vampire tropes to show that these are not your daughter's vampires but something more sinister. All the boys are impossibly good looking and this is what makes the knife twist so deep when they start being malicious and harmful to Yui(also impossibly good looking). The music is mostly piano pieces written by a drunk Danny Elfman and one guy laying down smooth bass guitar tracks at all other times. None of it's really bad but the reuse of music gets a little grating when it is not that good to begin with. The opening is kind a of a guilty pleasure in it pure cheese factor.

So who is this series for:honestly it is hard to tell . People who have been in that kind of relationship probably don't wanna watch it and the content is going to be to graphic for the shojo audience. It's more for the crowd who is sick of seeing vampire romanticized to such a ridiculous degree,those who want to see the cycle of abuse in action or if you are like me and on occasion like to feel slimy while watching a show. If you fall into any of those categories then it is definitely worth your time.

Also sorry for the delay on this one.The series ended this past Tuesday and the last couple days have been hectic so I've been a little behind...sorry.

Till next time: Stay Positive


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