Fellas, is it true love if your vampire pseudo-girlfriend gives you a big ol’ smooch to extract some extra blood from your mouth? This is the conundrum Ko finds himself dealing with this week in a humor-heavy installment of Call of the Night. As I said in the review last time, this series runs on vibes for a good while, so this episode doesn’t do much beyond languish in the light taboos of these late night excursions. It’s a chance for the audience 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 flustered about the kiss because he’s in middle school and you’re supposed to be flustered about kisses when you’re that age. His youth and inexperience also come through, with some painful pangs of recognition on my end, via his emotional phase transition from utter bewilderment to complete confidence. We all like to think we have it figured out at that age. It’s important that he’s immature, because his desire to become a vampire stems from that immaturity. He sees it as an escape from the bothers and doldrums of daily life. It is, in his mind, a natural extension of his insomniac adventures.
I like, too, that Call of the Night has yet to truly admonish Ko for these childish whims. The series feels no ethical impetus to argue that he should return to school and don the usual responsibilities of adolescence and eventual adulthood. Rather, it only cares about extolling the virtues of being a truant and hanging out with cool people beyond the ken of authority figures. It’s a goofy distillation of the rakish appeal of vampiric romances with normal humans. Regular life sucks, and it sucks doubly when you’re 14. Nazuna is Ko’s ticket to something more fulfilling; she even says herself that people sleep better when they’re satisfied with their day. Call of the Night argues that if you’re disappointed with the direction of your waking life, it’s valid—perhaps even therapeutic—to scorch the earth and vie for something different. There’s a certain amount of naivete and hedonism baked into that philosophy, but these too are the appeals of vampire fiction.
Nazuna is also, in his mind, Ko’s ticket to adulthood. Vampires don’t have to worry about school or gossip or curfews. Vampires only care about prowling the streets, dancing in the moonlight, and, in Nazuna’s case, retro gaming. Naturally, there’s a lot more to it than that, but Ko, unsurprisingly, has yet to grapple with what his undead life would truly be like. And that’s not to mention the irony that Nazuna doesn’t have a much clearer idea of what being grown up is all about either. Whether it comes to romance or responsibilities, the pair are on about equal footing, and Call of the Night‘s dirty jokes are a great example of that. They possess the exact tenor of two teens shooting the shit. The show still dips into fanservicey cuts and closeups, but sex is more often a punchline in this episode. And when things do get serious, it’s about Nazuna using her modicum of experience to frankly explain the difference (and connection) between love and lust to Ko, who comes out of that misunderstanding with a better grasp on his emotions. There’s no doubt the series wants to titillate, but it’s definitely interested in exploring the nuances of its relationships too.
Akira, unsurprisingly, ends up being the most level-headed out of the trio. As a nightowl of a different breed, she understands Ko’s attraction to the other side, but she also makes sure to verify that Nazuna isn’t just using him like a refillable tube of blood Gogurt. While the humor in the second part stems from the innate sketchiness of their necking and sleeping arrangements, it eventually gives way to a moment of vulnerability between two friends. If anyone were going to chastise Ko for leaving school, it’d be her, but Akira instead expresses relief and support. 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 in between the lines, we can conclude it’s likely that she has, or at least had, some feelings for him, so it’s heartwarming to see their friendship deepening. Despite all the raunchy humor, this is, quite genuinely, a wholesome episode.
As far as the adaptation itself goes, Call of the Night‘s sense of staging remains strong. This is the most lowkey installment yet, and the storyboards nevertheless manage to keep the dialogue in motion. Again, while it’s hard to say the degree to which Tomoyuki Itamura is actually involved in the production, his influence has clearly worked its way down into the anime. There are lots of cuts reminiscent of Monogatari here; I’m thinking in particular of the playfully quick closeups on Nazuna’s mouth as she works her way through various synonyms for a woman’s bosom. The reaction beats are good too, with the adaptation branching out into different color schemes and framings to better punctuate its jokes. And for the blood-sucking scenes, the emphasis on the subtle motions of her hands and teeth helps instill intimacy and sensuality into these moments, and I’d like to see the show continue to focus on these.
All in all, this is a pretty standard and unchallenging fourth episode. It’s not going to change your mind about the series, but if you’re still watching it, you’ve already concluded Call of the Night is in your nocturnally inclined wheelhouse anyway.
Call of the Night is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
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