Akira EmotoNene OhtsukaEkin ChengKanna Hashimoto
Vampire in Love
Also known as: Koisuru Vampire
Medium: film
Year: 2015
Writer/director: Mai Suzuki
Keywords: SF
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Actor: Mirei Kiritani, Shota Totsuka, Natsume Mito, Ekin Cheng, Summer Meng, Akira Emoto, Kanna Hashimoto, Nene Ohtsuka, Seiichi Tanabe
Format: 103 minutes
Url: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4328196/
Website category: Japanese SF
Review date: 23 June 2022
It's absolutely not horror. You could show it to small children and grandmothers. Instead, it's a charming light comedy about young people, love and nice vampires who wouldn't hurt anyone. It made me laugh.
The film's a bit multilingual. I paused the film after a few minutes to see if I'd started watching a Chinese film by accident, while later a South Korean actor shows up and speaks a little Korean too. Mirei Kiritani plays Kiira, the bilingual daughter of a Taiwanese-Japanese vampire couple. They lived in Taiwan until she was twelve. When a bad vampire killed her parents, Kiira came to live with her Japanese grandfather, his cute relatives and their family business (a bakery). Sometimes they bake bread in a cartoonish cute vampire design.
The vampire lore feels good enough, although it's eccentric. They break most of the rules, including the big ones, i.e. these vampires don't drink people's blood and they're unaffected by daylight, mirrors, running water and religious symbols. On the other hand, though, they respect enough of the little rules that I didn't mind. They can't enter your house without being invited (which is my favourite vampire trait and sadly underused in horror films). They can't handle silver and garlic. Also, bizarrely, everyone in Kiira's family takes an anti-anti-aging drug that grandad invented to make them age and die like humans. (You wouldn't catch me drinking that.) Since these vampires can get pregnant and have babies like anyone else, how did their life cycle work before grandad invented his drug? Were babies stuck forever as immortal infants? Theoretically, shouldn't they have been stuck as embryos? Well, never mind.
Then we have the stuff that's completely out of left field. Every vampire has a unique superpower, so for instance granddad can teleport and Kiira can wipe people's memories. Vamping out with elongated fangs makes your eyes glow purple. They all have a vulnerable "acupuncture point" on the very top of their head. All this is bonkers enough that I enjoyed it. Sometimes it's silly, e.g. the garlic bazooka, but that's okay because this film had always been gently silly to begin with, so the knowingly daft bits just made me laugh.
The international cast is endearing. (Japan, China, Hong Kong, South Korea...) The ladies are lovely, the child actors do their jobs well and Seiichi Tanabe has an adorable duck-beak smile. Kiira's boyfriend-to-be is given a daft wig, but that's only to let Kiira give him a makeover.
My least favourite thing here was Kiira's memory-wiping ability. I wasn't meant to find it disturbing, but I did. It's unsettling when it works and even more so when it doesn't, because of the implications about other occasions when Kiira thought it was working perfectly. She doesn't use it lightly, though, and she's never selfish or malicious.
Things I Learned From Watching This Film: wild rabbits will let an unfamiliar human pick them up and cuddle them.
Something that might have been either sloppy or clever is the misdirection. The movie quite often introduces lore or backstory that you know for a stone cold fact will be significant later... and yet they'll generally get ignored or subverted as jokes. Observe the anti-use of those acupuncture points, grandad's teleportation and (most surprisingly) the identity of the vampire who killed Tetsu's dad.
It's fun. It's also a bit silly, but its good-natured tone makes that work. I don't know if I'd call it a comedy, since it's amusing rather than laugh-out-loud funny, but I like the cast and it's a pleasant way of passing 100 minutes.