A rules enforcer and her personal special exceptions.
If you recall, Seri and Ko were having a chat about relationships and date ideas the other week.
You may also remember another little detail during this conversation, which I made a point to bring up: her phone going off, and the messages she was ignoring.
We pick up this week on another night some time later, and indeed: her messages are once again popping off. Various icons for numerous folks. Some are looking for a night out for drinks, others wondering why she has not messaged back in a while. In this case, she is sitting on a street handrail watching all these little messages roll in on her phone. A concrete and steel coastline, as she obverses her screen the way one might watch the tide arrive.
She contemplates to herself the idea of high school girls being the most popular thing in all of existence. But there is also another more personal angle.
She can not deal with all this.
Spotting Ko during one of his night walks around town does perk her spirits up for a moment. At the very least, he would make for a swell distraction from the texts bubbling up on her cell phone. In her yelling rush to all but glomp on to him, she in turn gets a proper surprise dropkick wallop from Nazuna.
Nazuna has her personal reservations about Seri, as well as her possessiveness about Ko. And from a certain point of view, Seri may not have done anything outright wrong to Ko in approaching him in such a happy way tonight. But Nazuna does remind her how much Seri has stressed the idea of being friends with humans as a bad thing. Something Seri was willing to fight Nazuna tooth and nail about, as well as conspire to kidnap Ko over, as you remember from just a few episodes ago.
Seri can not have it both ways.
Which she halts but agrees with, pivoting to cover for herself and conceding she was just going to mess with Ko.
But in the way where any viewer still with us by now should more than parse: Seri is the main character of the episode.
This is an issue she is going to have to come to terms with.
Ko, reaching out to Seri after her departure, asks her if she really did want to talk about something.
She has said before how bored and disconnected she feels with so much in her life. Even vampires must have some problems they might want to just get off their chest once in a while.
We have a venue change to a karaoke booth, which services several different needs. It provides a closed room for personal conversation. It is also an acceptable social space to be more or less as loud as you want, if you feel the need. If anyone was trying to get in touch with you, and you felt a need to deign them with a response much later, saying you were in a karaoke booth is a serviceable enough story. A story which works best if you have any actual receipts and whatnot, because this is in fact where you were. This makes karaoke a perfect place to get away from it all.
But Seri does have the presence of mind to ask Ko if Nazuna was OK with him coming along with her for this sort of thing.
Ko has his own story well in order. He says an exasperated Nazuna was not fond of the whole idea, but told him to do whatever he wanted. Which fits Nazuna so well, as we have seen her act this way before. The very idea there might be anything else at work is not even considered by Seri. The show also plays this quite straight, with no further foreshadowing.
The karaoke part of their hangout is about as stilted as one might expect. Seri has her concerns about why Ko does not try to liven things up at all when she sings. Ko has no idea what many of the popular songs are, as he does not watch much television and whatnot. The one song he does pick out is a more classic number from about thirty years ago, which Seri also thinks is weird. But, she would at least like to hear some more songs from the same group, if the machine has any others Ko might know. Either out of genuine interest in the group, or an interest in learning more about Ko. The prospect of making a more human connection.
The more sensitive part of the issue Seri is having, as she describes it herself: she is super crazy popular.
Which in a certain light can sound like she does not have any problems at all. But getting so many messages from folks chasing after her can be a real hassle. It weighs on her. As we have seen in glimpses of her texts and from her own conversations about it with Ko, these dudes have pretty universal sexual and romantic streaks in all their interactions with her. Which she is good at edging on. But it does not mean she always wants this kind of attention.
Seri can shrug all she wants when she brings up the idea of being able to just kill guys who get too far out of hand. But, we also see Seri more forlorn and sad. Ko brings up the idea of disliking folks who make chasing relationships the core essence of their lives, rather than something you find along the way. Even to the point of Seri stating out loud, not even to Ko in particular, how she understands how Ko and Nazuna are a good fit for each other. There is wistfulness in the thought.
What Seri wants, in a sense, is what they have.
Which is, as stated before, something she has fought against. With violence.
On a related note, we have the tonal shift of a young man at the karaoke booth door looking for Seri. With fervor. The surprise arrival coming across almost akin to the killer in a horror movie trying to get the door open.
This said, Seri does have plans for how to handle this kind of situation. How to call out to make him back away from the door, placate him, and so on. Which should clue the audience in to the idea this is not the first time she has needed to confront this scenario.
She is crazy popular after all, as she reminds Ko.
She is also, at the end of the day, a literal vampire. One we have seen her own arm torn straight off, only to reattach it moments later without issue. There is, on a realistic level, very little a random admirer at the door would be capable of doing to her. The threat level is much more in her favor.
Despite all this, Ko attempting to talk through the charged situation has its interesting little wrinkle. He knows he can not stop her from killing the man, and he is sure she has to sometimes, what does he know. He would also like to avoid a civilian slaughter if he can help it, of course. But getting a good look at the eyes of the man at the door? Ko can see he is not in a great place to reason with at the moment. He wants to do the right moral thing, but it is a tight situation.
The lighting and color scheme during the later parts of this scene bothered me a bit. The series has enjoyed splashes of hyper saturated color. Often to emphasize a location, like the night pool party. Also here and there during huge tonal shifts, like when Seri first met and worked to kidnap Ko. The darker lighting of the man arriving at the door shifting over to aggressive pinks and purples as Seri prepares to slash him apart fits the established style. However, after Ko breaks out of the room to see if he can get the man away from Seri, the color scheme continues into the ensuing hallway exchange. Seri does not leave the booth until those two are well away. Thinking it over, I would have enjoyed something like the hallway space looking “normal,” with the electric neon lighting applied to any cuts toward the booth space Seri was still in. It could have contrasted the raw power differential more. They live in the same, yet different worlds.
The squishy normal humans in the hall, and the power emanating from the approaching vampire Seri.
Ko does manage to scurry away with the unknown man to a nearby alleyway. With some distance and catching of breath, they can begin to piece together who is who and what is going on.
This then is Akihito Akiyama, who had been hanging out with Seri for some time. He has some sweet little flashbacks. Dropping his glasses while drunk as Seri tries them on herself. Hanging out at a diner talking about how his ex-girlfriend made him feel. But, he also admits to allowing his imagination to run away with itself. His time with Seri has felt more and more distant. He has gained a warped idea of how Seri must see him, but he also wants closure. He is, in many respects, the exact kind of guy Seri was complaining about in the karaoke booth earlier. How insecure guys are only cute in manga and anime or the like.
Which is valid.
But, how much of this might also be her own version of a cover story.
Ko messing with the communicator link he shares with Nazuna should at this point tell folks Nazuna has never been far away from Ko. Or indeed anything else which has been happening. It would be absurd for her not to be watching Seri and her time with Ko like a hawk.
So when Seri does find our two runaways and moves after them, Nazuna slamming her into the pavement to save the day is a forgone but appropriate conclusion. Seri really had not considered how much Nazuna would watch after Ko. Even after getting slammed by her earlier in the same night.
The trick the story wants to tell here is not this, but what Nazuna asks with glee.
What about Akihito would drive Seri to decide to kill, for once in her life?
Seri did not question the story of a frustrated Nazuna letting Ko do whatever he wanted. An audience member could take for granted the idea of Seri being an experienced killer. This is how she has positioned herself since almost her very introduction into the story. But, while Nazuna may be somewhat distant from much of the local vampire community, we do know how they are all familiar with the habits of each other. So, Nazuna is in a position to know what Seri is doing right now is unusual behavior.
Remember, Seri drew Nazuna out during the kidnapping scheme by moving to bite Ko. Seri can talk a good game about killing. But biting was far more believable for Nazuna at the time, and how she got drawn in and caught off guard.
If Seri wanted someone out of her life, it would be more normal for Seri to just ghost and abandon them. The boiling passion of trying to strike them down takes actual work.
What we have next are the looping knots Seri has tied herself up within all coming undone.
Akihito apologizes over ever falling in love, because they are friends. Seri admits she hung out with him despite never intending to turn him into a vampire. She finds herself so tired of how so many of her interactions are sexual and romantic manipulation of others to fuel her vampire needs. How hard it makes trying to create good connections and friends. Seri wants to break off seeing Akihito ever again. But she also breaks down crying and sobbing, tears all over her face.
This is why she wanted to kill him, because it would have brought a finality to their relationship.
She points out with her own voice how Nazuna and Ko are doing the vampire and human friend thing. But it is not something allowed in most circumstances.
Again, she wants what she sees in them.
But she can not bring herself to push for having something like it for herself.
Akihito does get a good scene of asking her to turn him, even if he might lose everything else. Seri kneeling and drinking from one of his inner elbows is a nice visual, in a vampire proposal sort of sense. A ring finger sort of lacks decent veins to sink into. Akihito can also fall in love, and even ask for the change, but Seri still has the ultimate veto power. She can choose not to bite him in this moment.
But she is so tired of avoiding confronting this, and embraces the opportunity.
Call of the Night is quite focused around the core Nazuna and Ko relationship. There are various alternate route strings pulling along the way, such as Akira and her childhood human crush on Ko. But this is a different romance series than, say, Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun. There, the central couple gets about as much screen time as the complementary couples within the larger friend group. It allows a lot of space for setup, growth, and indeed gags across an entire social circle. But it takes multiple episodes to manage it, juggling all those folks along the way. Call of the Night tends to have a more limited character focus per chapter or episode, most of the time. Which can provide runways for a lot of granular conversational depth. But it does mean folks might be on the bench for a while between appearances (see also: Akira).
Neither is a bad way to go about things, they are just different styles of romantic comedies.
Introducing Akihito and covering a significant personal arc for Seri within the span of this single Seri-focused episode would be a huge ask for any show. We are also at episode nine of a series about to enter its final few episodes. A lot of folks might have trouble coming to terms with how fast this was “resolved.” All the more given his initial real life depiction here as someone closer to an unhinged maniac than a compelling relationship option for Seri. He has been in the text messages for longer, of course, with his glasses icon on her phone. I can commend the anime for trying to point these out and build to his arrival. But this is a detail which I admit plays better to the reading speed of taking in the art of a whole manga page.
Clingy if not outright stalker behavior is a difficult angle to work in a romantic comedy. All the more when you have about twenty minutes of a single anime episode to transition to a happy conclusion.
On the flip side, I do like Seri and how the series positions her. A single person at the crossroads of who Nazuna and Ko are. She has the boredom, depression, and lack of interpersonal connection Ko has felt. She is searching for meaning and more. We have seen her light up and flustered at the thought of actual innocent romance rather than emotional manipulation, somewhat like Nazuna. More like Nazuna, she can posture and have aggressive fronts to push back at the problems she is having, hoping to intimidate them away. We have also known Seri for a bit longer. Seri coming to terms with her own secret human friend and where their relationship lies is a good arc for her character. We met her talking about how this kind of thing is not allowed. We see her now as someone who was diving into rules as a way of running away from her own feelings.
But again, folks might not be so sold on the almost speedrun handling of Akihito.
On a different note, I do like the image of Ko and Nazuna leaning against a wall on the side of the alleyway. They are just watching the tears and emotional cadences play out. They have each intervened in the ways they can, everything else is out of their hands.
Ko, watching what Seri and Akihito now get to have and wanting the same for his own situation with Nazuna, is fitting. As is Nazuna leaning over, and telling Ko she also knows he is thinking “No Fair” to himself about this. She goads him about how his meddling brought these two together, but she is also smiling about it.
Seri might now be a certain kind of romantic step ahead of where Nazuna is with Ko. But Nazuna is not spitting venom or ill will about it. She also joins in the offer to celebrate the new relationship Seri and Akihito have via a double date, complete with beers and karaoke.
Even at the sight of everything which transpired, Nazuna mentions with reassurance how she and Ko can take it slow.
There is a silent ticking clock, the vampiric deadline for Ko somewhere in the distance. But for the time being, finding reassurance in the actions of her partner provides a certain sense of comfort.
After all, had Seri acted too rash, she never would be as happy as she is now.