「 忍び寄る狂気」 (Shinobiyoru Kyouki)
“A Creeping Madness”
Episode 04 of Kinsou no Vermeil makes up for the underwhelming fights so far with some nicely gratuitous fanservice as Alto tries to comprehend the status of his relationship with Vermeil. But as the two continue soul-searching for one another, danger is afoot as Professor Obsidian has his own idea of what should be said and done about the other students.
TRUST ME, YOUR FAMILIAR’S FOOT SIZE IS A CRUCIAL PART OF THIS ASSIGNMENT
One major highlight of the episode is how Alto actually takes the time to piece together how he feels about regularly having to kiss Vermeil. He’s still in the shy and nervous mindset about whether he’s alright with her kissing him while he’s sleeping, but the biggest question in his mind is how to handle Vermeil confessing her love to him.
With all of the material about human women having demon children, there isn’t too much to work off of about demon women working something out with a male human. And Professor Obsidian doesn’t sound like someone who’s going to tell him anything useful about dating women beyond what he’s seen in Rosemary’s Baby.
But it’s a relief that Alto looks like he’s genuinely looking inward and exploring his own personal feelings about Vermeil. It shows that he doesn’t appear to be as one-dimensional or bland as other ecchi MCs who do the same sniveling without bucking up or thinking critically of their place in the world. Right from the get-go, Vermeil’s confession gives him the motivation to ask her, point-blank, if he only loves him for his mana supply.
By simply doing that, he gets a clear-cut answer from her when she kisses him without taking any of his mana. It’s also a breath of fresh air that Vermeil isn’t merely playing around with him because, by establishing that she loves him on a deeper level than just acquaintances, they’ll be able to reach common ground as partners. While Alto won’t exactly commit to taking their relationship to the next level, they both lift each other up, and happily have equal footing by being affectionate with one another.
KASHIRA? KASHIRA? GOZONJI KASHIRA?
Kinsou no Vermeil has to be the weirdest show to wear its Revolutionary Girl Utena influences on its sleeve. I thought that the spiral staircase to the duel arena in the last episode was a small homage, but the Greek chorus that shows up in the form of schoolgirl silhouettes is not even a coincidence at this point.
I love it because it opens the door for the weirdest mishmash of ideas for a light-hearted succubus ecchi to openly embrace a surrealist, postmodern shojo. You can also kinda see it with the Dueling Committee mirroring the older show’s student council, especially with Jessica looking not too dissimilar to Arisugawa Juri. You can also see shades of it with how Professor Obsidian sets up counseling sessions to attack students, and how it wouldn’t be as big of a stretch to compare it with the confessional booth sections of the Black Rose arc.
In another odd way that might also be a stretch, I’d say that the scene where Alto takes Vermeil’s measurements doesn’t feel too far-off in tone from Utena’s goofier moments. The comedy of errors where Lilia constantly slips up as she’s trying to inconspicuously stalk the two almost feels like all the times Nanami’s efforts to embarrass Anthy backfired during a study session.
Again, a lot of this is me digging through the series to find any comparison that sticks, but it helps me enjoy the show way more knowing how much Utena resonated with the writers/creators that they’d want to replicate facets of the anime’s lore in such a wacky anime. It’s amusing to fall under the rare subsect of anime fans who would enjoy both big mommy milkers and subversive deconstructions of gender conformity and heteronormativity because, in any other circumstance, fans of one genre would steer clear of the other.
But Kinsou no Vermeil appears to carry itself as a show where they would want you to have experienced a show like Utena to get a better appreciation of why Vermeil and Alto’s relationship is established as it is. It’s the only ecchi show I’ve seen where the main lead is looking for reassurance to better learn about their partner, and the main goal is centered around having a strong, loving relationship by getting to know each other before they can be more comfortable being directly affectionate with one another.