Vampire crime scene forensic investigators have no need for police.
Midori made a hard play fishing after Ko during his kidnapping back in episode seven, and we begin this outing focused on her job.
She leverages her cuteness appeal points as a maid cafe server and promoter. Her particular dilemma at the moment is trying to drum up customers and fresh business opportunities. Handing out flyers is all well and good, but repeat business is important as well. If you have visited a maid cafe once before, it would help if there were some new faces around to provide variety to the experience. If you have no incentive to check back in, the business will fade.
Some folks may have a personal favorite server, but even this only helps so much.
This said, the only folks Midori knows well enough to ask to pop in to work with her are other vampires.
Which, in conjunction with her selfish personality quirks, also means she does not want things to become a popularity contest. So she needs to think of a vampire she knows, who she also doubts would be her equal to the aesthetic tastes of the general populace. It would be great if they were bad with men.
We all know where this is going.
Before Midori can even get much further in her train of thought: Nazuna and Ko spot her while they are out on one of their evening walks.
On a certain level, the entire point of this story is to get manga panels and anime screenshots of Nazuna Nanakusa in a maid outfit.
Some other characters as well, of course. Midori, for instance. And there is another character story to tell by the end. To its credit, the beats needed to get Nazuna from street clothes to maid service uniform are not dragged out. There are no extended dialogue arguments about whether or not Nazuna will wear the maid costume. Scenes of such a nature would slow down the episode plot too much, and allow less time for where we need to go. One should want the jokes to progress along with the story.
And if the audience all but knows the maid outfit is coming? We may as well get to the reveal, so we can spend more time seeing the characters use the costume of the day. No sense in spinning our wheels on the way to even get to the maid costume.
Of particular interest should be Ko saying he thinks Nazuna looks cute in the maid outfit. The series does not have her go into a complete stammering and blushing personal meltdown out of embarrassment.
Nazuna is getting paid to do all this, for one thing. She is trying to be professional. Kind of. And do we know from the Kiyosumi incident she could use some extra money.
But sometimes, it is nice to imagine she is growing and willing to accept the compliment without making a huge scene.
Again, another benefit to getting Nazuna into the maid outfit as soon as possible means the story can have plenty of time to use her in this capacity.
One one side: Midori showcasing herself in full power. Number One Most Popular Server At The Maid Cafe. A mode of spinning server presentations and making hand hearts over coffee orders with cute delivery phrases. At the same time: Nazuna coming to terms with the idea of a maid cafe being a place where you are playing a kind of theatrical character for other people. You are not yourself.
Which, given Nazuna and her tendency towards dramatic poses, turns of phrase, and other ostentatious quirks, some would think she would be quite good at. Consider again her own work as a massage therapist cuddle buddy, and the performative nature of her act. But here in this cafe, in such a public manner, she is not quite as capable. She gives herself a hyper enthusiastic character greeting style on an initial attempt, only to deflate like a balloon as her character ideas and welcome phrases are turned down one after another.
There are background scenes of Nazuna in places in the episode having a somewhat shell-shocked time.
But again, she is being paid. So she does go through multiple entire shifts across the episode. Not to jump too far ahead, but by the end she considers the idea of continuing to pick up some additional nights sometimes.
While unstated, working some cafe shifts also means she would not be as reliant on her massage business. She was in a financial bind because spending so much time hanging with Ko takes direct hours away from her ability to do her private cuddle hours. Almost like when a company allows you to buy extra vacation time, all the more since Nazuna runs her own business. But, a more having additional alternative work arrangements would be beneficial to her relationship with Ko. He can hang out at the maid cafe during occasions when she picks up some extra shifts, and she can still maintain some kind of income stream.
She is thinking ahead here, in her own way.
Meanwhile, Midori makes a point of not needing to do much to have become Number One at the cafe, or develop a character for herself. She is just this cute as a natural point of fact!
…Which we all know is very much not the case. Which is the joke. She has the most diabolical and self serving thoughts of all the other vampires we have met so far. And she has still not forgiven Ko for turning her down during the kidnapping events from earlier. He rejected her out of hand and right away, which does not sit well with her sense of self. At all.
This dynamic would perhaps be enough for some other stories. A lighter gag chapter to break up some of the heavier recent ones. A bit of a breather with cafe character antics.
Last week was wrapping up with Seri sobbing in a back alley, after all.
However, one of the other maid cafe staff members who stops to talk to Ko is the previous Number One of this establishment. Her name is Arisa.
During an end of shift locker room debriefing to share some new photos on social media, Midori has some messages on her phone. They are suggestive shots of Arisa throughout the cafe. Details such as her hair color and style, as well as unique touches each maid has on their uniform style, all match back to Arisa. While her face is not in full view, it is clear to Ko how every shot is targeting her in particular. Nobody else in the entire cafe is featured in a single one of these photos.
Which is what the salacious title of this story is about. Investigating how all of the pictures are of Arisa. Figuring out where these shots were taken from at the cafe. As well as how and what someone would need to do in order to accomplish such a goal.
Midori is not in any of these photos, which she finds infuriating on one level.
But she also wants to nail the person responsible to the wall, and is willing to do whatever it takes to catch the culprit.
In reverse engineering where some of the cafe backgrounds from these photographs are from, some of them can even be traced to inside of the changing room.
Which is a high risk move to the extreme. It is alarming on multiple levels.
Things get even worse when considering some of the logistical issues involved in catching such a shot. The locker room for the maid cafe does have a window, but the room is not on the ground floor. There is a narrow alley, with a small balcony facing a wall. While there is an upper floor door which leads to this outside balcony, it has a padlock. Anyone going to the locker room would know if it was open. To get up to the window for sneaky photography any other way presents limited options. A drone, perhaps. Otherwise, it might all but require someone to be as agile and nimble as Nazuna herself, able to fly and wall kick her way to anywhere she wants. Midori could, perhaps, have done it.
Nazuna takes Ko on a trip up there to investigate it further, and even recreating the angles something still feels rather wrong. Even with Nazuna popping in to add some funny faces and a humanoid body.
After a few moments however, Ko has his brain expanding moment. He can see the cosmos, and indeed the way the criminal mastermind managed to sneak these shots. All they need to do next is to catch the culprit when they strike again.
The sting operation involves Nazuna telling Arisa at the end of a work night how she is the last one here, and to lock up before she heads home. Ko and Midori get subjected to the “classic” cheesecake gag of both squishing into the same locker, as they hide in the room with Arisa. Midori does get to tell Ko off again for rejecting her before, so she is trying to leverage the time pressed together for herself. Her fangs even begin to come out, so she may well have been moments away from pulling a dirty trick herself. Which is at least a notable character contrast with, say, how Seri was treating Ko in more recent weeks. There has not been the same level of risk of Seri being unable to control herself from biting him.
But these kinds of squish scenes are still always kind of odd in any form of media. Even in whispers, the two are still talking too dang much for such a small locker room.
As the locker room window slides open though, the opportunity for the problematic person to peep and procure pictures of Arisa arises.
With everyone in position, they spring into action, and catch the criminal scum in the act.
In true Scooby-Doo adjacent fashion: it was Arisa all along.
The chaos of Ko and Midori stumbling out of the locker allows Nazuna, who got herself back up to the outside balcony. Snagging the phone Arisa had placed in a window perched selfie holder, she can flip through and see her full camera app photo roll.
While she still has some clothes on, she also has nothing left to hide.
Like many detective episode perpetrators before her, there is the question of how the investigation identified the “villain.”
There were apparent flaws in what may have felt like a perfect plan.
In short: the photographs sent to Midori were too high quality.
To get down deep into the mire of illicit and violating public photography fetishes: the “goal” is to just get the shot at all.
Whatever means necessary. The faster, the better. Every microsecond is a risk. Focal lengths, depth of field, and so on are just not part of the consideration.
Not only this, but even the framing of the subject is fungible.
If someone was chasing a sneaky dressing room picture, they would not be stopping to make sure it was tastefully plated in a suggestive and alluring manner in the shot. It would not be presented as having a dirty “feel.” It would just be filthy.
For such a scoundrel, any shot taken without resulting in an immediate arrest would be a victory. They would not mind so much if their treasure was blurry, out of focus, or not in the center of the frame.
Not a single shot in the collections sent to Midori were too sexual. No up-skirt shots, underwear reveals, or so on. Which would be a huge goal of a peeping tom creeping around a maid cafe and its associated locker room.
It all sounds crude, and Ko is kind of embarrassed to be talking through the process. There are some jabs about how the case would never have been solvable without the aid of a horny teenager.
But, there is the truth in how folks looking to violate you are not going to do so with artistic flair.
One may have begun this story imagining it to be a Midori affair throughout. But, this is her big character sequence to step in and give her thoughts.
She is sympathetic to the idea of Arisa being the former Number One at the cafe. Developing a fake peeping tom narrative could be used to claim she still had popularity, even as potential leverage to gain sympathy. There is the desire for recognition. Which Arisa was having trouble coping with, after having lost her top spot.
Midori calls this an illness.
Which Ko even calls out as a rough phrasing. So Midori turns to tell him how ill he is as well, skipping school all the time so he can stay out all night messing around with Nazuna. But he does it because he feels it is important and has meaning to him. Similar enough idea here, as far as she sees things.
Midori calls herself sick as well, as she wants and thrives off of receiving recognition too. Which we all know she does.
In her worldview, Midori sees working at the maid cafe as a way for some ordinary people with certain needs to dress up. To be fawned over by folks who are paying to have a certain experience. Some customers may be using the cafe maids to fill a need in their day. But some of the maids can also be doing the same on their end of the deal.
“We work here to be seen.”
As far as Midori thinks, the problem Arisa has is not unusual, shameful, or weird. They both have narcissistic streaks. There is the perspective of how everyone is sick in their own ways. Life becomes about navigating those illnesses between us.
Arisa wants to quit, but gets overridden so fast you would not even call it a speed bump.
And for what it is worth in the eyes of Midori: She feels Arisa can take some pretty good photos.
As another night comes around, Arisa pulls up a chair next to Ko on her day off.
She had mentioned in an earlier conversation with Ko how one of her hobbies was to visit maid cafes and be served by her favorite maids. Which she bundled with remarks about how her favorite foods were raspberries and chocolate cake. Which is to say, plausible enough to pass time and make a cute workplace conversation. But not needing to be specific about anything in particular.
But in her case, she was telling the truth. Mirroring what Midori said earlier, there are different sides and recognition needs being met by certain kinds of maid cafe servers or customers. Arisa seeks both kinds of attention. And while Arisa may have lost her Number One maid server position to Midori, Midori is also one of her favorite maids to see in action.
So, she can enjoy Midori on the customer side. She can feel seen by her.
Arisa has what we could describe, in a genuine clinical sense, as a near crippling addiction to taking selfies. She herself admits to having lost entire morning until night days of re-shoots. Hours and hours of trying over and over, all in an attempt to get just the right shots.
There are a lot of real life issues surrounding theme cafes, selfie culture, and social recognition. Far and away too complex for a single bottle episode of a larger vampire romantic comedy to ever handle in full inside of twenty minutes. But the series does have a running theme of touching on various kinds of depression.
I do think the issue and how it manifested in this small story is handled a bit better than the more stalker situation Seri was in the other week.
With so much of this episode taking place indoors, the night scenes which are one of the usual strengths of the series are also shelved. The maid cafe at the center of so much personal turmoil is, at the end of the day, a rather basic little establishment. Pink paint on the walls, with the odd photo here and there. Some tables and chairs. A simple bar counter one could also sit at, like Arisa and Ko are at the end of the episode.
But the cafe is not presented or adapted as some kind of indulgent, extravagant escape.
It does make the visual spectacle of the episode take a nosedive compared to any other single episode of the series so far. But I do kind of appreciate it at least in a thematic sense.
The maid cafe is just some basic little unassuming place. It is clean and well lit, sure. But it is a more everyday kind of run of the mill theme cafe. The girl next door of maid cafes, perhaps.
It is of a local caliber where a vampire like Midori can guarantee herself a top spot with little effort.
Which says a lot about Midori, despite not being the central focus of the episode.
And it at least says a little about Arisa where the last thing she does this episode is ask to take not just a quick selfie.
But one where she wants other people present as well.
Plus: Now she shares some of her personal photos with Midori as well.
So to bring things back to the start of the story, Midori now knows at least one additional non-vampire a little bit better.