On the live talk show Astraea no Tenbin, the topic of the day is the existence of vampires after a series of attacks that have left distinctive bite marks on the victims. The panel set to discuss the matter includes – among others – a professor, a vampire mangaka, and an actor who plays a vampire, and most of them don’t believe that vampires exist. However, the producers of the show then reveal a report in which they found those supposedly responsible for stopping one of the attacks, and the report shows them meeting the supposed queen of the vampires, Vera. In fact, they’ve even brought her onto the set of the show along with the arm of the vampire whose attack her subordinates stopped. Despite all of this though, the panel still isn’t convinced, particularly not the professor.
It all comes to a head after Vera explains vampire society and badmouths the culprit by suggesting that he’s a lower-class vampire. She singles out the actor on the panel, and as it turns out, that actor is none other than the vampire in question. He quickly takes back his arm, attacks one of the girls on the panel, and then changes into his true form. After failing in his attack against Vera, he escapes to the rooftop, and the TV cameras follow. A young blonde girl who had been in the audience goes as well, and the other vampires refer to her as the princess. She personally faces the rogue vampire, and his ugly appearance causes her to comment on how a vampire’s true form reflects his heart. When he tries to strike at her, he’s stopped in his tracks, and the girl reveals that she’s Mina Tepes, the true ruler of all vampires. She’s able to order him to die, and he stabs himself and falls to his death. In the aftermath, Mina addresses the camera directly and points to a piece of land in the distance where she’s establishing the Vampire Bund.
There was no OP for this first episode, only an ED. It’s not a bad song, but it didn’t really stand out either, and it didn’t help that there wasn’t anything other than Mina in lingerie in the background.
Well this was definitely not what I was expecting in terms of a first episode – I even thought I was watching the wrong show for a moment in the beginning. But somehow I’m not too surprised since it’s SHAFT, and they’re not a studio that always does things by the book. In any case, I had both a positive and negative reaction to this. On one hand, this was set up like a little mystery episode, and it was a decently entertaining watch with fairly good production value (though it doesn’t really show until late in the episode). More importantly, it introduced the ideas of vampires and their society nicely, and we got to see Mina in action as well as several other familiar characters from the manga, some of whom I’m eager to hear more from because I like their voice actors. It’s also worth noting that Tamaki Nozomu, the original mangaka, appears as himself in this episode.
On the other hand, both the official website and DVD solicitations indicate that the series will be 12 episodes, and spending one of them on this stuff might not have been the best use of time. Some parts in the first half of the episode were a bit slow, and all the truly important tidbits to be gleaned here could have probably been distilled into a much shorter segment. Of course, it’s impossible to say right now what direction they’re taking the series and how close they’re going to be following the manga, so this all might be a moot point. I know I’m definitely going to keep watching for at least a few more episodes to see how the SHAFT team moves forward with this adaptation.