The beer drinking anime vampire lady said to stay up until you feel satisfied about your day.
The dilemma of Ko Yamori is a sympathetic one for many students.
Still in the process of even understanding himself, he turns down a love confession from a fellow classmate.
He has guilt from hurting her feelings. He even understands the anger from her friends. But it would also be wrong, from his perspective, to have taken those feelings if he did not feel something similar, right? He never asked to be responsible in this way for the emotional well being of someone else. But now he has trouble sleeping.
The teenage problem of not yet even knowing enough to know what you like and want.
Taking to sneaking out in the middle of the night for first time, he comes to find himself enthralled by another feeling familiar to many:
Nighttime makes every place in your usual day to day world feel different.
The traffic, both from people and vehicles, has changed. Animals roaming you may never see otherwise. The sounds you do hear stand out more in the quiet. The high contrast of lights and shadows gives a more ethereal feeling, even to places you know like the back of your hand. You have not just left the house, but stepped into a different world. If only for a little while.
This will all go away when the sun comes up. But for the moment, it is yours.
This opening point for the series does an excellent job harping on liminal space. Despite the entire episode taking place at night, the colors are hyper saturated. The art direction is keen to highlight the almost cosmic ambiance of the city environments and its special feeling to Ko.
The stars would never look quite this bright in the light pollution of a modern city, after all. The purples and yellows and greens are never this vivid. But it makes emotional sense, when you are taking about being young and in the moment.
Showing him having an enjoyable blast swinging and laughing in a playground also sets important tones. Even when falling off and eating dirt. He might have depression, insomnia, and all around a lot on his mind. But he is not a protagonist outright incapable of joy or a smile. He is exploring this new time, and finding the experience wonderful.
Someone tried to confess to him already, we have to remember.
So it is good to establish what someone might have seen in him.
Ko takes the daring and anxiety inducing risk of attempting to purchase a vending machine beer in the middle of the night.
Perhaps not the most conventional way for a romantic comedy to introduce its primary couple and partner contender. But this balancing act of the excitement and dangers of the night makes the threatening arrival and introduction to Nazuna memorable. She is the first other person he has encountered at this hour.
Outside of a few drunken salarymen at a lone bus stop, Ko and Nazuna Nanakusa are not just the only characters in the entire episode. They are the only people.
This is a high risk approach, as the rest of the airtime is dedicated to their interactions and conversations. The opening credits may show several additional girls the series will introduce in the episodes ahead. But if the banter and antics between Ko and Nazuna flop here? For as long as they have everything all to themselves? Viewers may not come around the following evenings.
Their chemistry here works well, dancing as it does between dry jokes, energetic laughter, sensual suggestiveness, and reaction faces. Balanced with the dark alluring threat of Ko getting into something over his head. He even follows her back to her apartment.
Nazuna is a vampire, and took him home like a bag of groceries to have something to eat.
It is cute to see little production details playing to this. For example, a wall mirror in the elevator up to her place show how Nazuna lacks a reflection. But with the camera at an unusual angle, and everything else going on, a viewer may not have notice it at the moment.
Going back to even her core design from the original manga, of course her top to bottom modern techwear jacket doubles as a fine billowing vampire cape in the wind.
As she does manage to get a bite and a blood drink in, and blaming a mosquito is not a satisfactory answer, Ko has an understandable concern. Does this means he is now also a vampire? As many a vampire story before it loves to delve into, Nazuna gets to be a lore explainer for how vampire rules work in this world.
In short: No, Ko is not a vampire just because she bit his neck and drank his blood.
This would be ridiculous. After all, humans do not produce new offspring whenever they eat.
Rather, Nazuna says the human being drank from by a vampire needs to love the vampire drinking from them. Only then would Ko become a vampire.
Vampires are made from love. They require the consent and deep feelings of the human heart.
Ko, again electrified and finding newfound conviction in the night hours, asks outright for the opportunity to fall in love with her. Which is a significant reversal of roles from where he was a short time ago at school.
The phrasing itself also admits he knows he does not love Nazuna at the moment. They have only just met each other. But he wants the chance to pursue the feeling with her.
Nazuna thinks they can keep hanging out, and see where things go.
So, the natural question for any anime series I aim to write about on an episodic basis as it airs:
Why this show?
Well, I suppose a significant amount of it comes from looking over the production staff and thinking about anime blogging over the years.
Call of the Night airs in the “noitaminA” animation block Fuji TV has cultivated since 2005. While anything with enough years under its belt has its clunkers, handing someone a list of noitaminA shows would be a heck of an anime menu. The Tatami Galaxy. Wandering Son. Among so many others. Such as Ping Pong the Animation, which was one of my favorite anime of its class year. At the time, I also wrote about it in a similar episodic fashion as it aired each and every week.
I remember there was a point where something just being a noitaminA show was itself enough of a reason for a lot of anime bloggers to see something through as a communal activity.
Internet content creation and social media have changed a lot over the years. As well as growth of anime in general. And more and more and more shows every season. Remember, there was an entire previous anime bubble and crash and lull since noitaminA launched. We are at the moment in another boom period. So there is less of the anime blogging “central activity” of this particular style I remember.
There are great shows everywhere, and everyone is more pressed for time than ever before.
Plus the years also mean I must always admit: I just may have no eyes on where this kind of thing occurs today.
The studio heading up Call of the Night is Liden Films, which was founded back in 2012. One of their initial shows during this time was co-animating Miss Monochrome: The Animation. A Yui Horie vehicle during the ascent of Vocaloids like Hatsune Miku. I still hold a lot of fondness for its brand of short form dry deadpan aspiring-idol-android humor. It has been some years and Liden Films is in such a different place today. While modern anime production often requires more about who you know and can call up, the studio is not irrelevant. But while I have watched several shows by Liden in the time since Miss Monochrome, I have not sat down and written about any.
To narrow things down even more, the staff list for Call of the Night is also far too intriguing.
Tomoyuki Itamura as the Director brings his experience on multiple seasons of the Monogatari franchise. Including parts I have enjoyed in particular, such as Monogatari Series Second Season and Hanamongatari. The later is in fact the only part of the series I own on physical media. As anyone with Monogatari experience has more than encountered, those shows are ones with few characters in any given episode. They all but require the pacing, shot compositions, environments, and so on to lend a lot of heavy lifting. Which will be of the utmost importance for a series looking to highlight the magical feeling and freedom of the night. And what, or who, you find there.
This first episode alone is promising for how these skills will see a lot of use.
Yoshiaki Dewa is on Music duties, and I appreciated their tonal efforts on Flying Witch and even A Lull in the Sea. I might not have the best memories of writing about the latter over the seasons years back. But I do not blame the music.
Atmosphere, again, will be so important to this show. Vibes, if you will.
While not their particular composition, I also appreciate the series bringing on the hip-hop group Creepy Nuts. As it goes, when Kotoyama was naming the original manga, Yofukashi no Uta, it was for their song of the same name. They even had a little cross-promotional video after the volumes began publication. It is nice to see this kind of licensing thing carry through all the way to the full anime production. One can always imagine larger business interests making different plans.
But at the end of the day, Call of the Night would be little as a show without its characters and writing.
On this front Michiko Yokote is a heck of an acquisition.
From romantic comedies like Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, to the wild antics of Squid Girl, she has more than succeeded with such a wide range of material over the decades. All the way to her critical hits on works like Princess Tutu and Shirobako. As well as being the most credited episode writer on Cowboy Bebop next to Keiko Nobumoto herself.
Much like Ko asks of Nazuna:
I am asking the show for the opportunity to love.