Diabolik Lovers More Blood
Episode 1 also reviewed here:
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Year:
2015
Director:
Risako Yoshida
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Season Two: 12 thirteen-minute episodes
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Review date:
26 October 2016
diabolik.lovers
It's weaker than Season 1, but also often a cut-and-paste of it. The phrase you're looking for is "self-plagiarising sequel", although I also get the impression that the production team were trying to backpedal. I presume someone thought Season 1 had gone too far. (Different directors, I note.)
It's softer and gentler. Most people would say that's brought it down to unacceptable from totally unacceptable. Season 1 was disturbing and sinister, full of relationships that in real life would get the man locked up. It made you feel dirty for watching it. That was the point. Only scary people wouldn't be freaked out by this show. Therefore, even in Season 2, the vampires are still vampires. They're still drinking Yui's blood in non-consensual scenes of abuse and painood. (The show's aimed at a female target audience, by the way. The vampires are young, male and hot.) That said, though, the intensity's dropped. Your flesh won't crawl quite as far. There isn't the same edge of danger, except briefly with the still-homicidal Kanato. Scenes that in Season 1 would have been laser-focused on hurting and humiliating Yui will have softened here to become no more than a conversation. The boys are still jerks, but they're no longer scary.
Part of this is character development, mind you. Yui's stopped being terrified. She's learned that the vampires won't do anything really bad to her (apart from biting her veins open) and she's even liable to worry about them. She's got Stockholm Syndrome. Another few seasons of this and she'll have become their surrogate mother.
The first half of the show feels like a bad carbon copy of Season 1. Having previously been kidnapped by the Sakamaki vampire clan, this year Yui's being kidnapped by the Mukami vampire clan! Some girls have no luck. (Reverse-harem count rises from six to ten.) It's as if the show's fallen into self-parody. The Mukamis have their own gothic mansion, there's a dreamy creepy one like Kanato and so on. The only difference is that the production team's been reading all the 2013 hate mail. The Murakamis are thus almost sympathetic. They get on quite well with each other and they're capable of being nice to Yui. They have tragic backstories. The Kanato clone's a masochist, not a death-obsessed psycho child. (I wasn't keen on his voice actor, incidentally. I can see that he's been told to play the character as apathetic and barely present in his own conversations, but more could still have been done within those constraints.)
A more positive development involves Yui. Someone clearly got a memo about the heroine being too passive, so this year she's trying to escape from mansions and being more forceful with her captors. She's starting to care about them, although I'm not sure I'd necessarily call that healthy. The Mukamis make a good point in ep.1 when they ask why she's trying to return to the Sakamakis.
I still didn't like it, though. It feels as if the show's lost its point. It's a pallid copy of a more distinctive predecessor. It's abuse that's trying to be less abusive. Bad boys who aren't as bad. There's still a memorably twisted scene or two, though, e.g. Kou giving Yui a bouquet in ep.5 and then twisting it into something weird, selfish and entitled.
The sexual subtext is even less subtle, though. Yuma wants Yui to eat sugar lumps from his mouth in ep.4, then in ep.5 Kou wants her to undress him and sleep in his bed. (She does, too, although I think "sleep" just means "sleep".) There's also the symbolism of everyone calling her Eve and wanting to be her Adam.
The show improves a bit when the Sakamakis return. It's still the low-calorie version of Diabolik Lovers, but at least the Mukami-Sakamaki tension isn't just a cut-and-paste of last year. Unfortunately it's almost impossible to tell the new boys apart from the old ones. There's also even less plot than last year, with an Adam-and-Eve objective that could mean anything and yet more identikit bad boy villains who appear from nowhere in the last episode and do nothing. Nothing is resolved and nothing is explained. The series stops rather than ends. I was saying "what?" and "that's not an ending!" at the screen. It's the kind of finale that suggests:
1. you'll need to watch the next season, and
2. not enough people will have been watching this one to get a sequel greenlit.
While I'm grumbling about this show's season finales, incidentally, they do a bad thing here to the Season 1 finale. I'd really liked that conclusion. Importantly it ends on a ambiguous note with two possible interpretations. You could either (a) be dull, plodding and literal-minded, or (b) you could choose the imaginative option that has genre awareness. Given Season 2's reset button and recycling of the formula of Season 1, guess which they choose!
"But he was a human! How did he become a vampire!" Well, d'oh. Given that we have vampires cooking ordinary human dinners for each other and being born and ageing in the usual human way, it's hard to think that the show's taking its vampire mythology that seriously.
In short, I didn't like this season. It's sort of okay, I suppose. It's certainly less alienating and hatred-inspiring than its predecessor. The show's actually creating a little sympathy for its boys (e.g. Yuma) and it's no more than very disturbing. Yui's also become a slightly stronger lead character. If you loathed Season 1, you're normal. Such viewers might prefer this season, although to be honest I still can't see this show finding a general audience. Personally, though, I think it's less memorable and distinctive.
That said, though, I'm the wrong reviewer for this show. Does it do its assigned job? What did the target audience think? Did they find it sexier, or is the softer edge detracting from what they're looking for? Was the expanded boy-harem popular? Did they like the stronger and more developed Yui-vampire relationships? I don't know. If they did, the show did its job. All I can do is give my viewpoint as a straight, British, male viewer who found himself preferring the more luridly offensive Season 1.
"I'll keep carving it on your body so you don't forget."
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