Apathy is a hell of a thing. When I say that I don’t mean it in the sense of aloof indifference. I am more referring to the complete disinterest in any things. It kind of reminds me of a part from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest where a psychiatric patient is being interviewed about their suicide attempts. Their response is a misunderstanding about what depression means, the idea that’s sad, angry, or any emotion at all being false. For them, the feeling was a deep nothingness, with no point to anything at all.
This is something I felt early on in Call Of The Night.
Now before we get more into this I want to make a note I do not think the main character 14-year-old Kou Yamori has some sort of clinical depression. I do not believe there is anything ‘wrong’ with him but I do think his age and actions make a lot of sense through a certain scope of context.
Kou being 14 seems to be an important part of the overall story whereas it comes up quite often. Way more than you see in other series, off the top of my head I couldn’t even tell you how old Nagatoro is, I think 16? Though 14 is young I think it holds relevancy for the series but alas let’s get into it.
Call Of The Night is a one-season romcom coming out of the Summer 2022 season. It was annoyingly licensed by Hidive so I had to sub to yet another service but whatever. Penned by Dagashi Kashi creator Kotoyama. This supernatural urban fantasy romance follows the before-mentioned Kou. A second-year middle schooler who has stopped going to school alienated his friends and has taken up the habit of sneaking out at night to roam around the city.
It is only at these times Kou feels some sort of relief, and gratification in his otherwise devoured life. I wouldn’t say Kou is necessarily depressed, actually given his age and the conversations he has with his friend, Akira. Kou is going through an adolescent stage where he isn’t sure of anything, girls, his sexuality, or even the point of school and grades. This was all spurred by a classmate confessing to him, which he turned down out of disinterest. And since this occurred in middle school, he was naturally berated over the matter becoming even more alienated within the classroom.
Delving into his newfound freedom Kou embraces the night and the marvels it brings. It was only a matter of time until his thoughts wander to something that he would never get away with in the daytime, going to a vending machine to purchase alcohol. This decision would upend his life as he knew it. Not because he would develop a nasty bout of alcoholism but because he would meet the vulgar bloodsucking heroine of the story, Nazuna Nanakusa.
Pale skin, sharp blue eyes paired with blond hair, and an indifference to showing her midriff. Kou is fixated, but not in the way one may think. He is confused about his feelings, muddled inside of him, a mixture of sexual attraction but mostly curious adoration. Here in front of him was not only a mysterious attractive girl but a master of the very thing that was captivating him, the night.
Showing some interest in him Nazuna decides to take the young Kou under her wing, turning the night into an exhibition just for them. As they fly in a star-filled sky, looking down upon the sleeping city and sometimes interacting with the drunks. It’s with these rose-colored glasses Kou decides for the first time what he wants in his life, he wants to be a vampire. Nazuna simply replies, for that to happen you have to fall in love with me. So a deal is struck up, Kou will give Nazuna his very tasty blood and if he falls in love he falls in love, giving the duo a win-win.
Now if only Kou could get his emotions figured out within that year window he has to turn. What follows is a funny and cute series that has a good pacing as the two of them reason it out. We learn later on that it’s very unusual for Nazuna to even take any interest in a human adding yet another level to their relationship. The two like each other, but due to their inexperience (Nazuna is 30-40 but has the emotional maturity of a teenager) they can’t quite figure out what the other one is to them. More than friends but not lovers? Cattle and prey? Gamer buds?
Call Of The Night shines in that respect, it’s a very well-put-together supernatural rom-com with only one real flaw. It sometimes forgets what it is. Mid-season Kou runs into a seeming high school girl named Seri Kikyou. Flirtatious and teasing she takes Kou’s drink leading him into an ally before attacking him. Naturally, she doesn’t get a single fang into him before Nazuna shows up ripping off Seri’s arm leading the two to a brutal fight. We learn two things in these moments. Humans who know of vampires are a liability and must be killed if not turned, and Nazuna is very much so an outcast even in her species.
The multi-episode arc that follows is more or less Kou learning he is in danger if he doesn’t fall in love with Nazuna all the while she is brute strength protecting him. It sets an air of danger that I didn’t expect only to be removed with a simple and quite silly resolution. The whole reason this group of vampires is hostile towards Kou, hellbent on upholding this agreement between them is to force Nazuna to say she loves him. That’s it, once that is agreed upon they seem to lose interest in killing him for at least the length of the show.
The air of danger is yet again brought up before the series comes to a close when Kou, prompting Nazuna’s (okay it’s kinda shady) cuddle company (which is pretty fucking funny) runs into a middle-aged dead-eyed woman. Thinking she looks tired and might be interested in a massage he takes her to a local cafe where he learns she is a private detective named Anko Uguisu. Though stating her job is more or less catching cheaters or finding missing people it becomes immediately apparent she is dangerous. Then we find out she is a vampire hunter knows Kou wants to be turned and knows of his budding romance with Nazuna. Stating that she will kill him if he goes through with it and his nighttime buddy. This jarring declaration happens near the end of the season and doesn’t get much light outside of the looming dread.
I have a real mix of feelings when it comes to actions like these in rom-com. We had a group of vampires saying they were going to kill one of the two mains, and now we have an outside party saying the same. I get that this series is ultimately about vampires, a treacherous pariahs but I typically dislike the tension that relies on fatalities. Kou and Nazuna aren’t going to die, and if they do what the fuck kind of rom-com is this? It feels often like a nothing burger.
My final thought on this series is positive. I really enjoy the show, it was funny, I appreciated all the characters and reminisce on the struggles that not only the humans, but vampires go through. I think overall it is a brilliantly written series dancing around adolescent struggles that even teeter towards LGBTQ coming-to-age conflicts. I plan on reading the manga and look forward to what the story will take me.
As always thanks for the read!