New Anime

Call of the Night – Episode 3

Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I figured we’d take a walk on the wild side, and step out into the alluring darkness of Call of the Night. Though frankly, while calling this show’s drama the “wild side” would undoubtedly flatter Nazuna, the show has in truth been pretty chaste so far, more concerned with the universal transgressive thrill of claiming adolescent independence than anything specifically ominous or vampiric. Nazuna attempts to play it cool, but she’s truthfully as naive as her new companion Ko, just as nervous about romance, just as eager to play games with transceivers. The show has been closer to “Skip and Loafer for Insomniacs” than any sort of ominous dark fantasy, and that suits me just fine; I always enjoy spending time with well-realized and charmingly inept characters, and the bond between Nazuna and Ko already feels convincingly precious to both of them. Let’s see how Ko’s transceiver-bearing classmate complicates things, as we once more answer the Call of the Night!

Episode 3

We open right where we left off, on a profile shot of Ko’s classmate asking what he’s doing. This shot offers a perfect example of this show’s effective use of soft focus, here softening everything except this character’s lips, drawing our attention to her lips and words as sharply as she’s drawing the attention of Ko himself. Soft focus is often used for this sort of trick, creating a sort of visual haze that replicates the way our minds prioritize what is most important or attention-drawing in any given moment

Her name is Akira

God, Ko is so bad at standing! He always stands in a weird hunch, looking like he’s guilty of something and on the verge of fleeing

We leave the scene unresolved, cutting to Nazuna asking if Ko really doesn’t have any friends on a rooftop

“From what point are people ‘friends?’” Ko, if you have to ask that question, you probably know the answer

And Nazuna answers simply “when you think they’re friends,” reflecting her relatively mature obliviousness to the tiny thresholds of companionship that preoccupy Ko. When you haven’t experienced intimacy with others, each new step towards another person feels consequential and momentous; when such intimacy is commonplace, it’s hard to even conceive of the fine-tooth distinctions between friends and acquaintances

“Is it okay to assume someone is a friend?” “Ah, right, because you have no friends.” Nazuna’s getting it. Only the friendless would consider something like “the imposition of assuming they’re a friend” to be worth worrying about – comfortably socialized people do not guard their theoretical friendship so closely

See, this is what I meant about this being the most chaste vampire story imaginable

“I thought calling someone a friend when you haven’t seen them for years might seem rude.” Aw shit, childhood friend alert. Watch out Nazuna, you’re now competing with a childhood friend

“This sad little transceiver… I think I got it because I wanted to communicate with someone.” Like his feelings on romance, Ko feels out of step with his peers regarding communication, and so expresses his desire for intimacy through grand gestures like buying those transceivers. And even then, it’s a sort of compartmentalized intimacy – he left the choice of his conversation partner up to chance, and ensured they’d only be speaking through this mediated, ostensibly safer channel

I could already see this series ending with Ko essentially “outgrowing” his need for Nazuna’s companionship, having more effectively acclimated into a real social group

Akira claims that Ko actually gave her the transceiver

“You became a lot more outgoing in sixth grade, and I lost my chance to talk to you.” And Akira thinks that Ko is the social one, claiming he has lots of friends

Apparently he accidentally left it on Akira’s apartment mailbox

“I was worried. Because we’re friends.” And she treats that theoretically consequential threshold like it’s no big deal

Of course, Ko sees this whole situation as a dangerous misunderstanding. It’s no problem, Ko! Even if it was accidental, you still expressed your genuine desire for friendship! Embrace it!

“I’m watching some ants carry a dead insect.” Ko was a loner as a kid as well, treating calls to come play with the others as an imposition

“We’re friends, aren’t we?” “Well… I guess.” He was one of those kids who over-intellectualizes everything, accidentally distancing himself from his peers through his preoccupation with the precise nature of the distance between himself and his peers. I can certainly relate, though I at least found a core group of friends to rely on

Low-angle shots emphasize Ko’s puncture wounds, calling his bond with Nazuna to mind as he reaches towards Akira

Apparently Akira is an early riser out on a 4 a.m. stroll. A similar night walker, but from the opposite direction of Ko and Nazuna

“Can we meet again, same time tomorrow?” The early morning light falls across her face, framing her as an escape from the night

“You do your thing and then leave right away… so is this just a physical relationship, Ko?” Though Nazuna’s toying with him, her concern seems genuine. Nazuna always has to cloak her earnest anxieties in defensive phrasing like this, playing on Ko’s insecurity regarding intimacy to hide her own insecurity regarding her position in his life

She jokes that he’s going to see another woman, and is shocked to realize by his reaction that this is actually the truth

He passes by more drunks on the way home. Honestly, another of this show’s appeals to me is its portrayal of a city that’s safely walkable at night; apparently businessmen just shuffle around drunk in the early morning hours of Japan’s cities, something I couldn’t really imagine in the states

“Didn’t she used to be more talkative and lively? I feel like she wasn’t like this.” It seems like Ko has no basis for comparison beyond the friendships of early childhood, and thus assumes everyone else still possesses a similar energy. But the anxieties of adolescence have a way of changing people

“I wonder, is it fun to hang out with me?” “Is it not fun for you, Yamori?” Voicing his anxieties only gives rise to her own – no one here has it together, much as they’d like to pretend

And right as Ko begins to think Akira might have feelings for him, our friendly neighborhood vampire arrives

Of course, she’s just here to embarrass him

In spite of being here specifically to throw doubt regarding her relationship with Ko, she immediately gets embarrassed when Akira implies they have a romantic relationship. She is so, so bad at being the seductive temptress – every time someone actually responds to her provocations, she immediately gets flustered

Apparently we’re not holding back on the reveal of Nazuna’s nature – she immediately drinks Ko’s blood in front of Akira, essentially marking her territory

A clear push and pull established between Nazuna and Akira, with Nazuna flattering Ko’s antisocial instincts while Akira presents a possible route towards reintegration into society

Unsurprisingly, Akira swiftly challenges Ko on why he stopped coming to school. Nazuna is comforting because she doesn’t ask anything of him, but that’s not necessarily good for Ko

Ko reveals that one day he just wasn’t having fun at school anymore, and could no longer be bothered to attend. Akira states she feels the same way, but that she knows she still has to go

“That’s why I was relieved to see your face, just like it was back in elementary school.” Both of them yearn for the simplicity of relationships and easy happiness of childhood, before self-awareness, anxiety, and a touch of depression stole their joy and certainty away. I hate to tell you this, Ko, but that’s just what life is like from now on, and hiding in the night with a vampire isn’t going to fix it

“Come to school with me. It’s more fun for me with you around.” Damn, a direct call back to the light by Akira

But Ko isn’t ready. Rather than staying with Akira, he chases after Nazuna when she excuses herself

“How am I supposed to know what you’re angry about if you don’t say anything, Nazuna-chan?” Ko is definitely getting better at expressing his feelings, if only to his vampire not-girlfriend

I wonder if Ko wasn’t the first? If this is only the latest time Nazuna’s been abandoned by an alleged night traveler the moment someone invited them back into the daylight

I like that each episode has its own wordless night ramble, each with its own distinct emotional tone – this one tinged with a sort of shapeless regret, as Ko ponders what he could have done differently

As Ko says “I want to know why you’re angry, and want to make up,” Nazuna appears, stating “our relationship warrants making up, huh?” She’s as insecure about this bond as he is, and so those words were crucial – an expression of their relationship’s substance, of how much it means to Ko

“I’m not angry, really. I just got ticked off.” Ko is confused by this distinction, but they’re distinct feelings – Nazuna is well aware her feelings of frustration aren’t entirely fair, but they’re still her honest emotions, and so she gave herself some time to cool off

And Ko answers her core fear, stating there’s no chance he’d go back to school while he’s working to become a vampire. And in response, she kisses away the blood in his mouth, departing as “friends”

And Done

What a mess of a situation you’ve found yourself in, Ko! In spite of your best attempts at remaining an antisocial loner, you have nonetheless acquired multiple entirely incompatible suitors, one drawing you further away from human society, the other determined to see you return. And while Ko’s discovering he’s actually a lot more normal than he thinks, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Nazuna is the true outcast here, even putting aside her vampiric nature. Nazuna is desperate for companionship, her cool affectation a front that even the anxious, inexperienced Ko is learning to disregard. So will Nazuna’s behavior towards Ko change, now that she understands he’s actively choosing to spend time with her over pursuing a mundane life? I’m eager to find out!

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