There are exceptions of course, sometimes I just have to stop watching a show for various reasons before that third episode, but these occasions are rare and will only happen once every other year or so. The reason I do this is because I want to make sure I get the proper taste of a show before I dismiss it, because there are shows that might just need to grow on you before you can appreciate it.
Diabolik Lovers is most likely not this kind of show.
I’ll admit, having actually learned more about Diabolik Lovers I realize it’s not targeted towards me. Well, that’s not entirely true, it’s a fujoshi bishounen harem show, I’m into that, but had I actually read up on the show’s source material ahead of time I would probably have passed up watching Diabolik Lovers at all.
Diabolik Lovers is about sadistic vampire psychopath perverts and a girl who ends up in their home. Now there are a few ways this can go, it could focus on the terror of having humanoid predators hunting you in a confined space or it could try to humanize the vampires so a romantic story can unfold. While it’s too early to tell from the first episode which direction it full intends on going in, learning more about the source material (which I will not spoil here) suggests that the show will not be trying to do either of these things.
The show is weird from the get-go as the episodes are just above fourteen minutes long rather than your standard twenty-two minute length. I figured this was something that had been done for pacing reasons, but the show proved pretty early on that pacing is not one of it’s qualities, of which there are already few.
Throughout the episode we follow Yui “Most overused name in modern anime” Komori who arrives at what’s basically a recreation of Arklay Mansion from Resident Evil. Here she meets the six vampires of the Sakamaki family, Ayato, Kanato, Raito, Shu, Reiji and Subaru.
These six vampires basically wants to have sex with Yui and drink her blood. That’s the set-up for the show, Yui believing she’s meant to live at the Sakamaki Residence, but having seemingly be sent there to get eaten by the vampires. The rest of the episode has Yui escaping her insane household buddies as she’s trapped in the mansion where she suddenly discovers a shocking reveal about her past.
This is all taking place in fourteen minutes which is one of the problems of the show as I alluded to earlier. The pacing is way to quick for what the show is trying to do. There’s no build-up to let tension or horror actually set in at the idea that this poor girl is going to be hunted down, killed and/or potentially raped by her pursuers, because it all happens in a flash. It takes five and a half minutes until three of the six brothers have forcibly licked Yui’s skin in various ways, it’s just poorly rushed and badly directed, content ignored.
Visually the show is mostly poor as well. While the character designs are well-done and are for the most part interesting and unique, the actual animation is bad and re-use of backgrounds is way too obvious for the show’s own good. There’s a CG chandelier in the first minute of the show that looks stupidly out of place and there’s more than one occasion in this pilot where characters are drawn off-model.
I mentioned early on that this show is not aimed towards someone like me, and let’s talk about that as it’s the main reason I don’t like the show, apart from the things I’ve mentioned, as they are also the most effective parts of the show thus far.
I can get behind a sadistic love-story, I can get behind a dark tale about nine times out of ten. But Diabolik Lovers is seemingly not one that I will be able to enjoy. Let’s not beat around the bush here, the show is focused on hunting down and sexually assaulting a girl before murdering her for feeding. That’s the entire premise so far and going by synopsis, that is not going to change. It’s a show aimed at people who like to fantasize about and/or roleplay being a rape victim. Which is of course fine if you are into that, but I’m not.
And that is why I wanted to preface all of this with admitting that it’s not for me, and that if you are into the idea of being overpowered sexually (through fantasy), you might not align with this review. Because I’ll give the show this, it does the creepy sense of being helpless against sexual predators good, so good it got really uncomfortable to watch towards the end despite the lack of proper build up or pacing.
But as it stands, the first episode of Diabolik Lovers is a ugly and badly put-together little thing that succeeds in making you feel really uncomfortable, but not in a way that I can appreciate and praise it for. Decent voice-acting and character-designs aside, there’s not much of value here. But I can’t find myself to hate it enough to completely dismiss it just yet, we’ll see how I feel in two weeks.
Oh, and there was a unintentionally hilarious scene where Yui held a diary that said “DIAPY” on it.
Episode Rating: 2/5
Watch the episode now on Crunchyroll