Do you prefer your Twilight vampires or your ‘gothic’ vampires? I really hope it’s the second one. ‘Nightwalker: The Midnight Detective’ is an anime series about… well, vampires. If there was such as thing as a vampire pie chart, this show would be 75% gothic vampire and 25% Twilight vampire.
I know this blog’s been a bit anime heavy in the last few weeks, so here is my last review before I go off on holiday for a week! As much as I love watching things, I’ll be working on some more varied posts when I’m back to keep you happy!
Shido Tatsuhiko is not only a private eye… he is also a vampire with no real memory of his past. Joined by Yayoi Matsunaga, a female government agent, Riho Yamazaki, an orphaned teenage girl working as his secretary, and Guni, a little green imp, Shido must face demonic creatures known as Nightbreed. Meanwhile, Cain, the vampire who made him what he is now, is seeking him…
MVM has licensed some great classic anime in the last few months, such as ‘Iria: Zeiram the Animation’ and ‘Vampire Princess Miyu’, and while I didn’t enjoy ‘Nightwalker’ as much as these two, it was still fun to watch. It had echoes of ‘Vampire Princess Miyu’, in that it follows a ‘mini story’ format, where Shido encounters different demons every few episodes. He’s a lot more sympathetic towards humans than Miyu, and at least tries to save people in most cases. There is a real sense of hopelessness in a lot of the episodes; the demons take over very undeserving people and force them to commit murder on a rather catastrophic scale. There are a couple of stand-out episodes among the whole 12, and I can’t really elaborate on why I liked them without spoiling. So, yes, expect some plot twists!
The main cast consists of just four recurring characters, who encounter different humans and demons throughout the series. Shido is a vampire detective (yes, really) who cannot remember anything about his past and is deceptively well-fleshed out as a character. Initially, he seems to be more Twilight than vampire, which isn’t helped by his bishounen good looks and long lilac hair, but we do see glimpses into his conflicted personality and regret over becoming an immortal vampire. Yayoi Matsunaga is a beautiful policewoman who recruits Shido into her various demon crime cases, in exchange for being his regular go-to-girl for blood-sucking. Well, at least he’s not going around murdering civilians and that insatiable vampire thirst is kept at bay. Guni is a sarcastic imp and obligatory mascot character, who provides a lot of the comic relief. Finally, there’s Riho, whose parents were killed by demons and for some reason starts turning up at Shido’s office and making him tea. As much as I knew I was meant to feel sorry for Riho, she never failed to annoy me. Not only is does she seem to be an ‘annoying fan girl’ but basically leads at least two characters to their untimely deaths in the very first episode – just because she’s “trying to help Shido” on his mission.
If you’re a fan of your vampire series, you might ask “how vampire is this show”? Personally, I’d say it’s a good balance between dark and and fluffy. Dark because there is a lot of great gothic imagery running throughout the story, and fluffy because Shido is simply too pretty to be a scary vampire. The soundtrack has some brilliant organ tunes, which give the scenes a creepy edge, and the majority of demons and vampires who we meet are very dangerous and sadistic. Some of the scenes are rather graphic, and you do see a fair amount of breasts in your as-to-be-expected bloody situations. On the other hand, the overall lack of character development means that you are inevitably go through the series just looking at Shido in his girly handsomeness as he tries to save humans from demons. We only get one episode that fleshes out Yayoi, for example, and I found Riho and Gumi to be very two-dimensional. I guess you can say it’s a little from Column A and a little from Column B.
The main thing that let ‘Nightwalker’ down for me was, surprisingly, its ending, and the relationship between Shido and Riho. As I’ve already said, I found Riho pretty annoying and only Shido to be a fleshed-out character, but that can be forgiven as the series is just 12 episodes long. The interest for me lay in the demonic encounters and human trials and tribulations, and Shido just had to turn up and do his thing at the end. I also felt the animation may not have held up as well as some other classic series, which is strange as ‘Vampire Princess Miyu’, which I thought had beautiful art, is older than ‘Nightwalker’.
In conclusion, ‘Nightwalker’ won’t disappoint fans of the vampire genre, whether you prefer your darker shows like ‘Descendants of Darkness’ or eye-candy ‘Vampire Knight’ style.