New Anime

Call of the Night – Episode 2

Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I’m eager to slink back into the shadows of Call of the Night, after a premiere that embodied the manifold strengths of author Kotoyama and director Tomoyoki Itamura. Anxious yet intensely felt sensuality, charmingly off-kilter protagonists, and a preoccupation with the “dead time” of our lives, the many moments between active concerns that accumulate into the collective tone of our private worlds – all things Kotoyama grappled deftly in Dagashi Kashi, and all represented with as much confidence here. Those concerns feel right at home married to Itamura’s aesthetic sensibilities; his Monogatari-forged methods of conveying character perspective neatly illustrate the difference between these characters’ self-assigned and outward presentation, while his emphasis on otherworldly landscapes suits a story about the allure of exploring the night perfectly. Let’s see what Ko and his strange new companion get up to this time!

Episode 2

We open on another sumptuously colored shot of the city at night, awash in deep purples and the occasional intersection’s orange glow. The scene promises potential, adventure; every light speaks to a private life carrying on beyond a window pane, every illuminated corner offers its own secrets and surprises. At night, light implies intention – it is almost easier to see a city street as lonely during the daytime, when there’s no visual hint of habitation, whereas the glow of these apartment lights emphasize the city’s nature as a living organism. This show’s base appeal lives and dies in its art design, and I’d say this aesthetic is a resounding success

As with the dull saturation of daylight, Ko’s apartment is conveyed in totally neutral colors, lacking the inherent glow of the night world

Nazuna crosses her legs as she lounges above him on the local playground, the camera angles emphasizing her delight in having a newbie to look down on

“Drinking blood is like eating and copulating at the same time!” Meanwhile, Ko can’t stop staring at her thighs

Nazuna seems to constantly be protesting too much. She feels self-conscious in her emphasis on Ko’s goals, her demand he reiterate his desire and then immediate “I got it” dismissal. I imagine she hasn’t been a vampire that long herself – she seems to be getting too much of a thrill out of being the experienced vampire to actually be that experienced of a vampire

Yeah, she’s clearly embarrassed by his declaration of love, even as she invites it

“Why would you show me that!? You perv!” Exceedingly powerful gap moe in the distance between her general queen-of-the-night confidence and her anxiety regarding anything sexual or romantic

“That’s why I have to fall in love with her.” Ko’s setup is a bit unusual; his professed lack of interest in romance means falling for Nazuna is just a task he must accomplish in order to unite with his true love, the night itself

“Did you know? Your blood tastes super good.” Nazuna’s attempts to reassert control are already feeling less than convincing

The OP seems to imply a sort of harem setup, with a variety of women still to be introduced. Dagashi Kashi’s Saya was actually an even more powerful character than the lead Hotaru, so I’m interested to see how the rest of this cast shapes up

At night, the lack of light interference from the sun can allow the artificial lights of any given building to entirely set the scene. Call of the Night effectively exaggerates this effect, conveying each new landscape as saturated in the distinct colors of the adjacent structures

“Somehow, things look kind of pretty.” I appreciate these almost wordless sequences of Ko wandering the streets, the show simply luxuriating in the peaceful satisfaction of exploring the city, discovering either new regions or familiar ones that still feel strange and novel under these circumstances

Clever design trick in how Nazuna’s oversized hoodie billows like a traditional cape as she touches down

An interesting conversation between them, as Ko accuses Nazuna of promiscuity for drinking blood from multiple people, given she already characterized drinking blood as both eating and copulating. Vampires have always served as a thematic stand-in for sexual desire and sexual liberation, a transgressive urge to seize your carnal desires. However, in this case, neither of our leads are the theoretically menacing predator leading the other into a world of adult delights – they’re both actually kinda awkward and anxious about sex, meaning Nazuna frankly addressing her own vampiric tendencies is an immediate source of embarrassment to her, an acknowledgment of the contradictions underlying her own self-image. I’ve never seen a vampire who’s as nervous about sex as their target

“Do you do LINE?” “No.” “Oh. Well, I don’t either.” Yeah, Nazuna is clearly making this up as she goes along

Oh my god, she’s got an old ‘90s-style brick phone. Ko doesn’t even recognize it as a phone

“I bought it a while ago, but in no time at all they came out with smaller ones, and I couldn’t be bothered anymore.” Yeah, I get you Nazuna. Even as a mortal I feel annoyed with the absurd pace of phone obsolescence, I can’t imagine how this bullshit feels to an immortal being

Ko is still understandably awkward about sharing Nazuna’s bed

“Isn’t it normal I don’t want her doing this with other people?” Buddy, you picked a first romance with a vampire, you’re gonna have to grapple with more than your fair share of awkward exclusivity negotiations

And so he pettily denies her request to drink his blood, even as he asks himself why he’s saying such stupid things

Fortunately for him, this forces a confession from Nazuna: she actually was searching for him, she was just too embarrassed to say so. A weirdly charming confession for both of them

“I realized I felt relieved. Not because my blood was tasty, but because we both felt the same way.” Rather than transgressive longing, this story is as chaste and earnest of a first love as you could ask for. It’s like “My Love Story” with vampires

The city remains a central character on Ko’s next night out, this time presenting itself as a maze concealing Nazuna in its endless alleys and alcoves

Nazuna is extremely excited about Ko’s new wristwatch transceiver. It seems like she became a vampire at roughly the same human age that Ko did, and has since then mostly just floated around bored and looking for a friend

More excellent faces from Nazuna as she demands to play with the transceivers

“I’m not some idiot who can’t find ways to play just because I don’t have friends!” Don’t say that with such pride, Ko

Ko relates a tragic tale of attempting to make up a one-sided game with his childhood transceivers, by hiding one and then communicating with whoever found it. Feels like this echoes a lot of the incidental games the cast made up in Dagashi Kashi; Kotoyama is basically a scholar of listless youth, an expert on the incidental ways children will grapple with the frequent downtime of childhood

“If this is a test run, I bet the real thing will be really stimulating.” Nazuna always delights in embarrassing the one person who’s more easily embarrassed than she is

While I’m a big fan of the backgrounds, this show’s composite could use some work. The characters frequently feel like they’re on a separate plane, not really integrated into their environment – which to some extent makes sense, given the photography and color correction of the backgrounds is so different from Kotoyama’s style of character designs. I can see Itamura having some difficulty transitioning from Monogatari, wherein the character and background art possessed a more unified aesthetic

“I never thought being alone was sad. Sometimes it can be even lonelier among other people.” Yep – disconnection within a crowd feels like active isolation, while being alone at night feels natural, even exciting

“I’ve never pressed the call button on one of these things.” A key threshold, actively seeking connection

Nazuna immediately adopts the “statement followed by ‘over’” parlance of radio communication, revealing her clear investment in this game

“It’s like we’re a couple that just started going out.” “Don’t say embarrassing things like that!” Nazuna is as easily flustered as Ko, of course

The pair float off to the school rooftop, another classic transgressive thrill

“Even the school you hate doesn’t seem so bad at night.”

“At school, too! What indecent behavior!” Nazuna delights in the smallest possible rebellions against propriety

And having spent this much time with her, Ko’s realizing the same thing – she’s just as nervous as she is, and has likely never had a physical, romantic relationship either. With this gap closed between them, he feels comfortable enough to refer to her as Nazuna-chan

Suddenly, a call on his other transceiver! It’s his classmate!

And Done

Well, that was a perfectly delightful time. Call of the Night is proving itself as charmingly low-stakes as Dagashi Kashi, even with its focus on blood-sucking vampires. The vampirism is barely even a metaphor here; this is mostly just a story of two lonely, awkward young people finding some understanding and community in each other, paired with the transgressive thrill of bending society’s rules by embracing the night. Ko and Nazuna have already developed a strong personal chemistry – though Nazuna plays tough, both of them are insecure and inexperienced when it comes to romance, and often find themselves collectively delighting in some new expression of shared intimacy. It’s simply an unassuming and altogether likable romance, and I’m eager to see how these two muddle through together.

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