Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood
On the urging of checking out a rumor about a mysterious immortal girl and a ghost-like mansion, which she heard from her classmates, Akari Amano heads out into the woods to see if this particular urban legend is true. There, she meets Sophie Twilight, an actual vampire girl who, as it turns out, actually lives in said mansion. When Sophie makes the decision to take Akari back to her home, Akari then proceeds to invite herself into Sophie's life, much to the latter's chagrin.
As blatantly obvious as it is to state, making shows starring cute girls seems to be the safest bet in the anime industry, as it probably has for a long time now. It doesn't seem like it's going to change anytime soon either, and Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood definitely doesn't seem to want to buck that trend either.
Of course, the more of something there is, the more a show has to offer something beyond the whole "cute girls" thing. Among my own favorites, Is the Order a Rabbit? offered up a very nice rendition of European scenery and a sense of humor that really stepped up its own game in its second season. And, of course, Lucky Star eventually developed into its own once you got past the somewhat dire first couple of episodes. Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood also seems to play its comedic bone first and foremost as well, and the main vein of its funny circulatory system is centered around a few things.
First and foremost is the fact that Sophie, and later arrival Ellie, are vampires, with all the trials and tribulations that come with this. This show aren't giving them any breaks either; sunlight will disolve them into sparkling dust if they spend too much time in it, and even moving around outside on a sunny day is sheer, sweltering agony. The two of them basically have to dress up in thick clothing, usually black, and carry around big umbrellas to protect them from direct sunlight. It doesn't really explain how it would work if the light in question is sunlight reflected off a surface, like water, windows, an actual mirror or maybe the biggest oversight that should be obvious enough: the moon. It does play up various aspects to vampire biology and mythology, but usually always to comedic effect. And most of it seems logical enough even when taken seriously, so maybe we shouldn't sweat the small stuff.
Funnily enough, while Sophie and Ellie can only sustain themselves on blood, Sophie herself finds the concept of drinking it directly from people scary. Whether intentional or not, this show isn't the first to point out why being a vampire wouldn't really constitute a threat for other people in our modern world, and indeed, Sophie herself buys all her blood from an online store. As Akari proceeds to lay out most myths and legends at Sophie's feet, Sophie debunks them all in an amusing fashion. Because of COURSE a vampire won't enter someone's house uninvited. That's just rude. Of COURSE she don't want to drink directly from people. She's not a weirdo or anything. Although in that case, Ellie don't seem to have those hangups herself. But then, she had been asleep for 100 years right before her arrival anyway, so maybe she can be excused. The whole thing with them not tolerating crosses or being able to see themselves in the mirror is also in effect, but we're not really told why other than it being inconvenient at times. Though in a weird way, that makes it a pretty good explanation of why they'd want to move to Japan, since the ratio of Christianity in general is pretty low there, so you aren't very likely to come across a church or just crosses in general.
Of course, Sophie also has all the benefits of being a vampire. She can lift a steamroller over her head with one hand without breaking a sweat, and she can sprout bat wings from her back, which she can use to fly around as she pleases. (Hence how the rumor mill got started in the first place.) And more arguable, she's also more or less immortal, being a 360 year old girl who still look like she's around 13. I say arguable, because while I'm sure most people don't relish the idea of growing older and eventually dying, having to see your friends do this while you yourself is immortal can't be a walk in the park either. Not that the show ever goes too far into that topic or anything; it's a cute girls doing cute things kind of a show, after all, and it's not here to make anyone sad.
If anyone in this show is scary, maybe Akari herself would fit that bill. When she headed out into the forest, she brought a length of rope with her, fully intending to capture this doll of a girl so she could brush her hair, dress her everywhere and all that stuff. Even when she learns about Sophie's circumstances, she's still dead set to invade her personal space for her own fringe, doll-obsessed benefits. She even invites herself into Sophie's home rather than Sophie inviting Akari to come live with her. One episode even has her take Sophie to the beach while the poor vampire is asleep; it's a..... gesture, but it happens in episode 7 in a show where most people would realize why this is an amazingly bad idea even after the first. Which -- alongside Akari's many attempts to make Sophie like her -- smacks heavily of selfishness on her part, particularly since she never really asks Sophie what she wants. And that's the main problem I have with the show, which it also partially frames comedically, as in "the vampire is the one who's afraid of the human" instead of the other way around. It does give an otherwise cute show a bit of a sour aftertaste, only lessened by the thankful fact that Akari does eventually learn to treat her host a bit better. And admittedly, I might be making a mountain out of a molehill here. This isn't Citrus or anything, even if Akari seems to be trying.
On the topic of Citrus -- or maybe it would be kinder to compare it to Asago to Kase-san (with a slightly selfish bent): the show has a pretty obvious yuri tone. Akari does sometimes have fantasies about her and Sophie doing the "two brides" thing, and the intro theme is overloading on the word "chu". Akari's interest in Sophie is borderline sexual at times, even if it's the mildly "safe for teenagers" level of sexual -- you know, "mountains out of molehills" and all that. And even the later arrival, Ellie, is literally based on Elisabeth Bathory, and seems to have inherited her apetite for pretty girls. (Though thankfully, while she does like to bathe in blood, she isn't as fussy about said blood being drained directly from the source and into her bath tub while said girls are still alive.) Bottom line is; yuri fans will probably like Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood even more due to this.
Hinata Natsuki definitely adds to this love triangle/conga line thing, as she's also quite interested in Akari. Unlike the more ambivalent Akari, Hinata is a quite nice girl who, despite being kind of jealous of Sophie for having captured Akari's interest to this level, never treats her badly because of it. She also laments her "lack of femininity" (as the show puts it) because she can't cook or clean or do other "womanly" things. (I'm actually a bit unsure whether the show is joking about it or not.) Then again, she also has a tendency to steal her brother's snacks, so.... yeah. Gray area, probably. It's almost like the show doesn't want you to think too highly of anyone.
While some of the characters -- Akari's in particular -- might drag the show down a little, it does have a surprisingly well-thought out comedy bone. Most of the gags surrounding Sophie's vampirism -- or anyone else's, for that matter -- tend to be amusing, like the one where Sophie tells the story about the girl who turned her entire family into vampires, only to have to listen to their complaints about being turned after they started going bald or getting wrinkles, or in the little sister's case; before growing boobs. Sophie herself lies about her age, because hey, it's rude to ask a girl about her age, right? She stated to Akari's friends that she were 340 years old when she really was 360. How does a vampire act her age anyway, I wonder?
Granted, some of the jokes seem rather non-sequitor. Oddball situations are set up, like Sophie standing in for someone in class when she doesn't look like that someone at all, and it works out because of course it does. But only Sophie can look into the girls' history books and wax nostalgic about it, like the time Ellie took her to the execution of Marie Antoinette, because there was a time when events like that were considered "entertainment". You know... just in case someone out there thinks we are living in a world that's slowly going down the drain, here is why you are most likely wrong. Ellie even expected the modern age to improve on Iron Maidens, making them more efficient at extracting blood and being torture devices in general.
In a way, as cute as the show can be, that's how morbid some of the jokes can get, and I have a weird sense of respect for that. While I don't want to subscribe to overly cynical or depressingly nihilistic shows, I do love me some black humor from time to time, and Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood is pretty good at it whenever it wants to.
The biggest non-sequitor seems to be the whole "vampires are a secret" thing. Sophie and Ellie are vampires, and there seems to be this unspoken agreement that "normies" would probably be better off not knowing about vampires living in their neighborhood, but neither the vampire or the non-vampire girls are shy of sharing that information with people they just met if they feel the situation warrants it, and that's not even going into the fact that there are websites that sell blood, presumably specifically for the benefit of vampires. They are myths or urban legends, but Akari and her classmates seems fairly quick on the uptake when irreversible evidence are presented, and even the occult club at Akari's school are fairly lax with their excitement over this. In addition, the show often does the "girls shouldn't be outside late", presumably to avoid bad people, but most male character I saw in the show seemed like assaulting girls wouldn't even cross their minds for a second, which I actually appreciated.
And the joke is also apparently that Ellie, despite looking like the little sister alongside Sophie, is over 400 years old. Granted, it makes sense since you're basically locked into whatever age you were turned, and Ellie does look younger than Sophie, if just a little. Ellie herself is a weird mix between very selfish and more thoughtful than most of the others. Like Akari, she sort of just invites herself into Sophie's house and takes it a step further by frivolously wasting her blood reserves, but she's also a bit more lively than the others. Then again, she adapts to the modern world a good deal quicker than Sophie, who seems to be satisfied just sitting inside and watching anime or playing videogames all day.
All in all, Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood is a pretty decent show altogether, the only stumbling block being whatever feelings you might have about Akari's selfishness and complete lack of respect for people's boundaries. The show does have a sexual undertone, but it's mild enough that you don't need to be concerned, even if the audience is in their early teens. The whole aspect with vampires is topically varied enough that you probably won't feel it's just tacked on to draw the monster girl crowd either. I can't really say how it stands out amongst the other for the potential yuri fan; Nico would be better able to fill you in on that front. To be honest, I have a hard time giving an explanation of why you'd prioritize this show over others, but if you're reading this to get an answer to your question of whether it's worth watching, I'd like to answer that with a pretty clear "yes".
It's a bit of a weak four, but Ms. Vampire serves up a pretty nice helping of vampire comedy. If you can tolerate an at first inconsiderate main lead, you should have a good time with this show. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: The show isn't overtly sexual; most of what's there is centered around kissing and fairly mild physical intimacy. Hinata's chest does get to be the center of conversation, seeing as she's the only among the main cast who has been significantly developed on that front, but mainly as a point of contention between her and Ellie, and Ellie's anger about being locked in a somewhat prepubescent form due to her vampirisim. Even as the girls go to the beach at some point, which isn't Sophie and Ellie's favorite place to be for obvious reasons, the show never gets particularly fanserviceish.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream on Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subs.
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Ms. Vampire Who Lives in My Neighborhood © 2018 AXsiZ, Studio Gokumi.
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