Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Nightwalker (Mayonaka no Tantei)

Genre: Dark
Parental Guidance Recommended
1998 AIC, TV Tokyo

Nightwalker DVDs
Everything Nightwalker

Cover Description:
A half vampire without a past, Shido's a midnight detective who specializes in solving supernatural murders. With a beautiful, impetuous policewoman hot on his tail, he races to solve the secrets of his fellow Night Breed before city life goes straight to hell!

(12 episodes)

A relaxing dark anime. >>> by skysenshi
That wasn't an oxymoron I just uttered. Nightwalker really is quite relaxing for a dark anime. Rant all you want about this being similar to Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles or some other US vampire series, but I'm just here to enjoy stuff like these.

Truth be told, Nightwalker reminds me so much of Angel, that dark US series that spun off of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. Shido, the protagonist, is a warrior of the dark, but he hasn't lost his humanity completely. He works as a "private detective" who specializes in investigating supernatural murders. With him are the voluptuous NOS officer Yayoi, the bubbly teenager Riho, and the spirited little fairy Guni. What makes this different from most dark anime I've seen is that Shido is not your usual stoic and constantly brooding accidental vampire. The man exudes wit, charm and an incorrigible sense of humor. Such things make Riho-who is obviously smitten with her boss-have comical jealous fits over his sexual banters with Yayoi. That Yayoi flirts back doesn't help any, and Guni's carefully worded rejoinders frequently open the floor to more arguments. All these give Nightwalker a very light touch despite all the grim and tragic horrors that abound the show

Nightwalker's take on vampirism is very similar to Anne Rice's. Vampires are exceedingly erotic creatures gifted with the kind of beauty that could only be sculpted out of marble. Their sexuality doesn't know any bounds, may it be gender or race or class. This is probably why Nightwalker is peppered with hints of yaoi and yuri (gay and lesbian themes) here and there, especially when it comes to Shido's mentor. The enigmatic Cain, who holds all of Shido's previous memories, makes such a perfect foundation for the duration of the series. His passion for Shido is what actually drives the younger vampire to do what he does for humanity. Now Cain is definitely one undead who has no qualms about flaunting his seductive nature. His imageries are always filled with blatant carnality; his flashbacks defined by heaps of nude female flesh.

There are no big ultimate baddies here. Likewise, there is no singular ultimate plot. All 12 episodes are basically filled with monster-of-the-day scenarios, which isn't really too bad since every one of them tackles cases brought about by the error of human ways. Obviously the anime's mantra is about humans being constantly exposed to the light and that their weaknesses allow darkness-in the form of the Night Breeds-to creep in and manipulate them. You have a variety of tales from lost loves, to greed-induced conspiracies, to basic human loneliness, to struggles for fame and power and what not. Of course, beautiful beautiful Shido, with his sword made of blood, makes it a point to rescue these poor lost souls from total damnation.

Nightwalker's episodes aren't chronological. It is near the end of the series that you get to know every one of the characters deeply, their origins revealed in full blasts. We learn that beneath all the kooky jokes and nefarious innuendos lay the hearts of figures with troubled pasts. Of course, these are still done in such a way that you can't help but feel good afterwards, because the lessons of growth and acceptance are clearly underlined. That speaks a lot about character development.

The artwork is pretty. After all, Nightwalker is about one of the most exquisite mythical creatures ever to be imagined. The music is superb, especially the opening theme Gessekai (performed by Buck-Tick), with its enchanting lyrics and relaxing vibe. The vocalist's deep crooning is enough to make any girl's knees weak. Truly, this is far from what I've come to expect from dark anime music.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 8; Story 9; Characters 10; Sounds 9

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