「吸血鬼って知ってるかい？」 (Kyūketsuki tte shitteru kai?)
“Do You Know What a Vampire Is?”
“I think this was the calm before the storm, and we’re likely headed for three weighty “canon” episodes to close out the season “, was my take on Episode 1o of Yofukashi no Uta. And while that certainly rang true with extreme prejudice, I hardly feel like I was going out on a limb. It just seemed obvious enough that we were being lulled into complacency a bit last week, but the way the transition happened was rather elegant.
It’s a pretty hard and fast rule in anime that no series is so good that it can’t be improved by adding Sawashiro Miyuki. She’s a voice actor that combines the traits of being instantly recognizable and having a huge range, and believe me that’s pretty rare. She’s playing Uguisu Anko, who Kou meets when Nazuna has sent him off to hustle clients for her cuddle buddy business (for which she’s just added a western-style bed). Setting aside the somewhat unsavory vibe of that assignment, Anko immediately seems to fit the bill he’s been told to watch for – she looks tired. But it’s clear pretty immediately that he’s bitten off more than he can chew with her.
This is a pretty rough assignment for an introverted kid like Kou to begin with, and Anko immediately seems to having fun with him. They end up in an all-night cafe where she can chain-smoke to her heart’s content, where she professes to be disappointed that Kou (code name “jail bait”) wasn’t actually hitting on her. She gives him a little scare about the illegal nature of his job (minors aren’t allowed to work after 10:00 P.M.), and answers his question about her job by stating that she’s a private detective. The idea is a rather romantic one for Kou, but the picture Anko paints is hardly a glamorous one.
The first question raised by Anko’s arrival, I suppose, is why she’s looking for Akkun. Kou has absolutely no poker face, and once Anko lamps on to the fact that he knows Akkun it’s a given that her interest in him will linger. But she buys him off by paying for the coffee with a ¥5000 note and letting him keep the change, much of which he drops on Strong Zero (clearly purchased from a less than by-the-book konbini clerk) to distract Naz from being upset over his failed recruitment. All seems low-key after that, with Mahiru inviting Kou and Akira along on a trip to break into the school at night, to create a fun memory of their adolescence.
Again, it’s telling how differently Mahiru views this three-way relationship than the introvert and mid-trovert do. Friendship comes so easily for him that he can make assumptions and be casual about it – for the other two it’s an event. But they tag along, basking in his afterglow as ever, and enjoy a fun night exploring the usual seven school mysteries. That is, until Mahiru brings up an actual mystery specific to their school – that of a teacher who disappeared ten years earlier and has never been found, and is rumored to sometimes appear in a classroom at night.
Now the questions really start rolling in. The teacher (Yamai Kazuhiro) is actually present, and bemoans the fact that the kids have shown up. It doesn’t take long before Kou realizes he’s a vampire – the first confirmed male vampire we’ve seen in the series. But this is not a vampire of the sort we’re used to with Call of the Night. He seems unable to control his lust for blood, though it’s clear that he’s also disgusted by this fact. He makes a move on Akira, and after momentarily freezing Kou goes at him with a chair, something I rather doubt he’d have done with a human even if he was threatening Akira.
There’s so much we don’t know here. Are all male vampires of this type, or is he somehow an aberration? What I think the series has done with these last two eps is to show us the polar extremes of the franchise’s take on vampirism – from the cute and perky slice of life to the disheveled and bloodthirsty life and death. Anko has been following Kou for an entirely different reason but she has her means of dealing with vamps. It appears that the teacher was seduced and turned (I wonder if it was by someone we’ve met). What does Anko means when she says the teacher was “supposed to die tonight”, exactly? Has she done something to her blood, or was the the man’s reaction simply a matter of it being his first taste? And what was it about that gold ring that so unhinged him?
I’m sure Anko would consider this an act of mercy, and there’s no question the teacher didn’t become a vampire by choice. One gets the idea Anko has done this before and may even see herself as a vampire hunter of sorts, though. This is the dark side of the dream Kou so blithely pursues, and there’s still so much he – and we – don’t know about what being a vampire in this mythology really means. Especially for a man. It’s one thing to wish for it a childish flight of fancy, but Kou doesn’t understand what he’s getting into at all.
One thing I’dd like to note is that the direction in this episode is really top-notch. Itamura Tomoyuki’s style hasn’t always clicked with me, especially when too much of his Shaft pedigree breaks through to the surface (as it sometimes did with Vanitas no Carte). But it’s worked incredibly well with Yofukashi on the whole. The teachers death, with the cross formed by the shadows from the window as the sun came up, was especially stunning. It’s been a perfect match of director and material so far, and one gets the sense we’ve barely scratched the surface of what this story has to offer.