Boys, is it true love when your vampire pseudo girlfriend gives you a big ole hickey to draw some extra blood out of your mouth? That’s the conundrum Ko has to grapple with in this week’s humor-heavy issue of call of the night. As I said last time in the review, this series has been going with vibes for quite a while, so this episode doesn’t do much more than languish in the slight taboos of these late-night jaunts. It’s a chance for audiences to settle in with Nazuna and Ko, and it’s also a chance for Akira to do the same in a much more literal sense.
Ko is nervous about the kiss because he’s in middle school and kissing at that age is supposed to be nervous. His youth and inexperience are also reflected in his emotional phase transition from utter confusion to utter confidence, with some painful pangs of approval on my part. We all like to think we figured it out at that age. It is important that he is immature because his desire to become a vampire stems from that immaturity. He sees it as a way out of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It is, according to him, a natural extension of his sleepless adventures.
I like that too call of the night really have to admonish Ko for these childish whims. The series feels no ethical nudge to argue that he should return to school and take on the usual duties of adolescence and later adulthood. Rather, it only cares about promoting the virtues of truancy and hanging out with cool people who transcend the horizons of authority figures. It’s a goofy distillation of the daring appeal of vampiric romances with normal people. Normal life sucks, and it sucks twice when you’re 14. Nazuna is Ko’s ticket to something more fulfilling; she even says that people sleep better when they are happy with their day. call of the night argues that when you’re disappointed in the direction of your waking life, it’s right—perhaps even therapeutic—to scorch the earth and strive for something else. There’s a degree of naivety and hedonism baked into that philosophy, but those are also the charms of vampire fiction.
According to him, Nazuna is also Ko’s ticket to adulthood. Vampires don’t have to worry about school, gossip, or curfews. Vampires are only interested in roaming the streets, dancing in the moonlight, and, in Nazuna’s case, playing retro games. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, but unsurprisingly, Ko is yet to grapple with what his undead life would really be like. And not to mention the irony that Nazuna doesn’t have a much clearer idea of what it means to be an adult either. Whether it’s romance or responsibility, the pair are roughly equal and call of the nightThe dirty jokes from are a good example of this. They have the exact tenor of two teenagers shooting the shit. The show still dips into fanservice cuts and close-ups, but sex is more of a punchline in this episode. And when things get serious, the point is Nazuna using her measure of experience to openly explain to Ko the difference (and connection) between love and lust, emerging from that misunderstanding with a better understanding of his feelings. There’s no doubt that the series wants to tickle, but it’s definitely also interested in exploring the nuances of their relationships.
Unsurprisingly, Akira ends up being the most level-headed of the trio. As a night owl from another race, she understands Ko’s attraction to the other side, but also makes sure Nazuna doesn’t just use him like a refillable tube of blood gogurt. While the second part’s humor stems from the innate sketch of their neck and sleep arrangements, it eventually gives way to a moment of vulnerability between two friends. If someone punished Ko for dropping out of school, it would be her, but Akira expresses relief and support instead. She’s there to be his friend if he ever becomes a vampire and she’s there to help if he ever changes his mind. Reading between the lines we can deduce that she probably has, or at least had, some feelings for him, so it’s heartwarming to see their friendship deepen. For all the salacious humor, this is honestly a wholesome episode.
As for the adaptation itself, call of the nightThe sense of staging remains strong. This is the most low-key episode yet, and the storyboards still manage to keep the dialogue moving. Again, it’s hard to say to what extent Tomoyuki Itamura is actually involved in the production, his influence clearly spilled over into the anime. There are many cuts that are reminiscent of monogatari here; I’m thinking in particular of the playfully quick close-ups of Nazuna’s mouth as she works her way through various synonyms for a woman’s breasts. The reaction hits are good too, with the adaptation branching out into different color schemes and framing to better underline the jokes. And for the blood-sucking scenes, the emphasis on the subtle movements of her hands and teeth helps bring intimacy and sensuality to those moments, and I’d love to see the show continue to focus on that.
All in all, this is a pretty standard and unchallenging fourth episode. It won’t change your opinion of the series, but if you’re still watching it, you’ve probably already completed it call of the night is anyway in your nocturnally tilted wheelhouse.
call of the night is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
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