Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $69.98 US (Blu-ray + DVD)
Running Time: 300 minutes
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now
It’s the old werewolf and vampire tango.
I have to admit that I found myself turned off by vampire stories thanks to the Twilight series that turned vampires into lovesick caricatures but leave it to manga and anime to make vampires so darn cool. So, you can imagine my delight in checking out the Complete Series of Dance in the Vampire Bund presented in a Blu-ray and DVD Combo pack. As it turns out, though, this is a dance that could have been a lot better.
Dance in the Vampire Bund isn’t a very lengthy series as the story is told in 12-episodes and the story begins interestingly enough with a television show with Japanese celebrities that include a comedian, a manga-ka, a hot model and the good-looking lead actor in the live-action movie version of the manga-ka’s hit manga series. The theme of the show is vampires and whether or not they are real seeing as the city has been seeing a recent string of slayings where each victim is drained of their blood. As it turns out, they have an actual vampire in the audience who introduces herself as the beautiful and busty Veratos.
As it turns out, this is all a ploy to reveal the vampire who is committing the crimes as well as introducing to the world a vampire of royal lineage that is considered a Princess to all vampires. She is Mina Tepes, a direct descendant of Vlad the Impaler (AKA Dracula) and despite the fact that she looks like a cute Romanian child, she is a lot older than she seems. This television appearance places the spotlight on vampires and finally proves their existence as Mina explains that she plans to create a country for all vampires out of a bund that has been abandoned for so long.
While the world finally knows who Mina Tepes is she is only concerned with having a good-looking High school boy named Akira to remember who she is and the promise he made to her a long time ago. Unfortunately for both of them, Akira is suffering from amnesia and doesn’t remember anything about him or the vampire Princess. It isn’t until she visits him in the school that Akira finds himself involved in the world of vampires as he helps Mina escape an assassination attempt on her life. Now that she has become famous, she’s been targeted by humans and vampires alike.
As it turns out, Akira is actually a werewolf in a long line of werewolves that have been placed in charge of protecting Mina Tepes. As fragments of his memory start returning to him, Akira can’t quite piece together the more important details such as why he lost his memory in the first place. If high school life wasn’t stressful enough, he juggles class activities with his role as Mina’s chief protector. On top of that, Mina decides to join Akira as a student in the school … an act that troubles a student named Yuki who loves Akira. It also troubles a group of students led by Student Council President Nanami who see all vampires as a curse.
While she looks friendly and cute, Mina is the kind of ruler who won’t stand for people to get in the way of fulfilling her duties. When Nanami goes missing, we come to realize that Mina isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty and she’s willing to do anything to obtain the right to create the vampire bund even if it means blackmailing Japan’s political figures. The more we learn about Mina the more fascinating she becomes as makes her dream come true for all vampires including a small group of fangless vampires who chose not to bite victims for blood. Plus, watching her romance Akira is funny … as well as a tad creepy.
Meanwhile, Akira starts piecing together the clues that make up his fractured memories and comes to the conclusion that Mina isn’t as innocent as she makes herself out to be so the young werewolf joins a group consisting of a few of his classmates looking to stop the vampires. What he discovers when he confronts Mina in her true form is the truth and it changes Akira’s mind about Mina and how he feels about her.
Just as Akira remembers his duty, a group against the vampire bund launches a series of attacks against Mina as Akira, Mina’s maids and her friends that now include Yuki stand by her side. Then there’s the Three Clan members that attempt to get Mina to marry one of them but in order to do that they want Akira out of the way so they send assassins after the young man.
There are bloody fights aplenty in this series and the fight sequences look really cool and – as I mentioned earlier – watching Mina flirt with Akira is very fun to watch. More importantly, Mina Tepes is a great character but that alone doesn’t keep the series from showing its weaknesses especially when it comes to the story structure. Aside from that, there are creepy fan service moments such as the time Akira had to rub special vampire suntan lotion all over her body. There are also sexual tones aplenty, which is what you might expect from vampire stories, but why pedophilia?
Oh yeah, I knew vampires could turn into animals as well but a vampire-lizard hybrid?
The Complete Series of Dance in the Vampire Bund truly feels like a missed opportunity and, considering the fascinating main character, you can’t help but feel like this anime could have been handled a lot better than what is presented here. Sure, there are some really great moments but not enough of them to make the series a truly enjoyable viewing experience. If you’re really into vampires then checking it out might not be such a bad idea but with better vampire anime tales already available I could only recommend this as a rental.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Mina Tepes might look like a child but she just so happens to be a true-blood vampire Princess who rules over all other vampires. Her plan is to create a place where vampires can live in peace now that the public know of their existence as well as have the werewolf boy she loves by her side. Of course, these things aren’t going to be easy to obtain when there are forces working against her.
VIDEO QUALITY: B
At times the animation looks really cool while, at other times, the visual style changes and messes with what looked good. This is too bad, really, since the Blu-ray version makes the colors more vibrant and the picture so sharp it makes the visual effects stand out beautifully.
AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The Japanese voice cast is spectacular and pull off some great performances despite the poorly written dialogue and, in the English dub, Monica Rial is simply brilliant casting as she does an outstanding job voicing Mina. The original score is perfect for the series and the opening theme, “Friends” by Aiko Nakano is a great way to open a series.
Besides including the DVD version and coming in a nifty Limited Edition box, there are decent extras that include the original commercials and promotional videos for the series as well as the textless opening and closing songs. There are even Funimation trailers as well.
Then there’s Intermission that offers 12 scenes that feature pages from Nozomu Tamaki’s manga with the dialogue and narration read by the Japanese voice cast. The scenes are actually interesting add to the story as we get to see more of the fangless vampire children, more on Veratos as well as Yuki’s insistence on staying on the Bund for Mia and Akira.
Occasionally very interesting and sometimes even exciting, Dance in the Vampire Bund falls short in a number of things that hold it back from being a genuine fan favorite especially for those who love a good vampire anime series. There are some good moments but, sadly, they don’t last very long to make much of an impression even though the main character does. I’m recommending this one as a rental unless you really love vampires and werewolves.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment