This essay was commissioned by Shawn. You can find out more about commissions here.
Horror anime is rare and rarely affecting. Series often have difficulty conveying or maintaining unsettling atmospheres and slow burns, and turn instead to gore and body horror—subgenres that can be quite effective but can easily take a turn for the silly.
It’s why series that can act with at least a certain amount of restraint have stuck in the anime fandom’s collective memory: the tragic Nina from Fullmetal Alchemist, Higurashi’s carefully spaced explosions of violence, and Tetsuo’s slow loss of bodily autonomy in AKIRA. Older anime fans in particular might add one more name to that set: Vampire Princess Miyu, a rare horror series both targeted toward and starring women.
The vampire craze of the late 2000s has come and gone, the Twilights and True Bloods and Vampire Diaireses leaving a bad case of publisher burnout in their wake. The only ones left behind are people like me, whose specific fondness for queer vampires wasn’t exactly served by a fad kicked off by a Mormon woman. With an itch hardly scratched by years of somehow aggressively heterosexual takes on a genre kicked off by Carmilla and OG Spooky Bisexual Dracula, I tend to be a bit of an easy mark—which is how I wound up buying Red Embrace, a five-dollar visual novel on Steam.
We’ve arrived: the nadir of the book. I’ve convinced no small amount of trusting, unwary souls to try this rollercoaster of a series. Every one found different characters and themes that appealed to them, but without fail they reported having difficulty with this stretch of pages. Why? Because it’s a fuckton of infodump about characters we’ve just been introduced to and don’t care about. Also, (even more) racism.
On the bright side, while previous posts in this series have taken thousands of words breaking down 30 pages of novel, here we’re going to be able to sail through nearly a hundred pages like it’s nothing.
Prepare yourselves for an experience I’m sure many of you are unfamiliar with: an old cis white man telling you his overconfident opinions about how and why the world works.
This essay was commissioned by abby-something. Want me to write about something you find interesting? You can find out more about commissions here.
A guy walks into a studio. “I have a great idea,” he says. “The Parisian catacombs are spooky, right? How come nobody’s ever shot a horror movie down there?” The film that resulted was 2014’s As Above, So Below.
I can see you itching your palms already. Unfortunately, you failed to take into account this monkey’s paw behind my back and its two stipulations: the director is John Erick Dowdle, whose previous film was the illustrious M Night Shyamalan brainchild Devil, and the specific horror subgenre is everyone’s favorite gimmick genre, “found footage.”
DEVILMAN crybaby has been tearing up the internet since it dropped a few weeks ago, sparking conversation about its use of sex, violence, horror, and taboo to tell a story about love and the end of the world. Not an inconsiderable amount of that discussion was centered around the series’ queer representation. What do you do with a series that features sympathetic representation while also roundly killing its queer characters off, and does it make a difference that everybody is dying?
SPOILERS for DEVILMAN crybaby, Devilman, and Devilman Lady. CONTENT WARNING: NSFW screenshots.
If you’re wondering why it’s been a little while since the last recap, it’s because this section requires a certain amount of mental steeling to face. Not because it is particularly more horrible than other parts of this book (though at points it is, because it revolves around The Worst Character), but because a great deal of it is very, very boring. Today we will be covering the less-boring part.
When last we left off, Lestat had suffered the death of his first love and his mother leaving to enjoy eternity as her own person and buried himself in the earth, only to be dug out by the much-lauded Marius. This will turn out to be among the worst things that has happened to Lestat in terms of effects on the rest of his unlife. We’ll get into that as we go, because I am not exaggerating when I say that Marius is emblematic of just about everything wrong with these books.
I talked about Gankutsuou’s handling of teen crushes on adults last week, but here’s a more extensive discussion on age-gap relationships with Dee and Caitlin: the ethical, the bad, and the normalizing. Oh, and the “that doesn’t actually fall under this pernicious problem.”
(I can’t believe I forgot to bring up Yuko/Watanuki, over which I still have the longest and most exhausted sigh).