Mitsugu Banba is a high school girl with an unusual fixation on donating her blood. Her "interests" lead her to frequent the local blood bank, and it's there where she meets Mai, a beautiful, fragile-looking girl who looks like she's about to faint at any second. But to Mitsugu's shock, the delicate waif suddenly begins to tear up the place! After Mai loses consciousness, Mitsugu pulls her out of the blood bank, which then explodes, and it's then that she learns that Mai wasn't there to donate blood... she was there to drink it.
Described as a "girl-meets-girl" vampire slapstick comedy, Vlad Love is the first anime series to be helmed by Mamoru Oshii in over thirty years, and is also his first return to comedy since Urusei Yatsura. Junji Nishimura serves as director, and the series is produced by Drive.
The 12-Episode Anime was originally scheduled to premiere in October 2020, but it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first half of the series was released on February 14, 2021, while the second half was released on March 14, 2021.
This work provides examples of:
- AB Negative: Mitsugu is revealed by Chihiro to be a "chimera," a person with a combination of two blood types. In an inversion of this, this means Mitsugu's blood is unfit to be donated.
- As You Know: Lampshaded. Chihiro annoyedly claims to have already explained the situation with Mitsugu's blood type multiple times, but says it bears repeating because it's important. Mitsugu has heard it so many times that she actually falls asleep.
- Casting Gag: Joji Nakata, who's best known for playing the vampire Alucard in Hellsing plays Mitsugu's dad, who happens to be a vampire hunter.
- Closet Sublet: Mai lives in Mitsugu's closet, saying it's the next best thing to the cramped, dark interior of a coffin.
- Everybody Has Standards: Mai is a vampire, but has enough of a conscience to refuse to drain people's blood.
- Exhausted Eyebags: Mitsugu has pale skin and noticeable circles under her eyes, most likely from her habit of donating blood more than she should.
- Genre Throwback: The series is essentially a throwback to the Magical Girlfriend comedies of the 2000s, though with the twist that the main couple are two girls.
- Gorgeous Gaijin: Mai is blonde and pale and is frequently noted to be a knockout by Mitsugu. As a proper vampire, she turns out to be from Transylvania.
- Hospital Hottie: Chihiro is the school nurse and wears a red dress with a plunging neckline that should definitely violate some sort of dress code. Mitsugu actually tries using the promise of the "hot school nurse" being the club advisor as a way to get people to join her club at the end of Episode 1.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the first episode, Mai says a girl with a blood donation obsession living with a vampire sounds like the premise of an anime.
- No Communities Were Harmed: The series is set in the fictional city of Chimidoro, but recognizable Stock Footage of Tokyo is used for some of the exterior shots.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Unlike traditional depictions of vampires, who are often described as walking corpses, Mai has a heartbeat and normal blood pressure. Her fangs and pointed ears also don't appear until she's ready to feed, causing her to look normal for the most part. Subsequent episodes reveal that while she has no reflection and can't be photographed, usual vampire weaknesses like crosses and running water don't affect her. Garlic also doesn't repel her, but instead causes her to become aggressive and violent when she eats it, which her dad claims is the result of her food allergies. Maki also claims that unlike in fiction, real vampires are not immortal, just exceptionally long-lived. Mai backs this up by saying that her stepmother has lines on her face, indicating that vampires do age in this universe, just very slowly. Mai also temporarily takes on the personality traits of whoever's blood she drinks, something that Mitsugu initially thinks should be impossible.
- Punny Name: The "Vlad" in the title when filtered through Japanese language, which pronounces V as B, reads as "Blood Love", which suits Mitsugu.
- Shifting Voice of Madness: Nami tends to change her voice tone on a whim, sometimes in the very same sentence. Fitting, she's one the most unstable hot-blooded characters of the lot.
- Chihiro is the kind of person who plays Fallout 4 on her Play Station 4.
- A police truck in the second episode appears to be carrying a Patlabor under a tarp.
- The Halloween party in Episode 3 features cosplayers dressed as Doronjo, RoboCop, Mario, Pikachu and Kylo Ren. Kaoru is able to convince Mai to dress as Morrigan from Darkstalkers.
- Nami and the other girls in the Dance Club dress in unitards that look like the ones worn by the protagonists of Cat's Eye.
- Kaoru cosplays as Chun-Li for her fight scene in Episode 4, and also attempts to perform Pai's Renkan Tenshinkyaku, which she explicitly name checks, from Virtua Fighter.
- The Flashback scene in Episode 5 where Chihiro flashes the school board members by uncrossing her legs is a nod to Basic Instinct.
- Mitsugi's dad being a professor at Helsink is a punny reference to Van Helsing.
- The confrontation between Mitsugu and Mai's dads and Dr. Chihiro in Episode 5 is full of references to Hellsing. And to drive the point home, Mitsugu's dad is voiced by Joji Nakata.
- Episode 6 is a parody of Castlevania.
- Episode 7 is, in-universe, explicitly a homage to François Truffaut's Day for Night. Kaoru cosplays as the Chesire Cat, specifically the Disney version. Also, a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer logo parody with a basset hound.
- Slapstick: Mitsugu gets smacked around a lot, as do the other girls in the Blood Donation Club.
- Snap Back: The town is seemingly destroyed by Mai in her dragon form at the end of Episode 4, but is completely back to normal by the start of the next one. The gyoza restaurant she wrecks in Episode 3 is likewise shown rebuilt by the time of Episode 5.
- Sudden Downer Ending: According to the anime OP's commentary, the visuals are supposed to represent what happens to the cast after the events of the series. Granted, that's not a good thing, as it involves Mai having to leave Mitsugu one day, all of Mitsugu's friends sacrificing themselves to summon Mai again, and Mai ultimately draining Mitsugu and forgetting about her.
- Verbal Tic: Kaoru always finishes her sentences with -nyan.
- Vegetarian Vampire: Mai refuses to harm innocent humans to get the blood she needs, which is what caused her falling out with her stepmother back in Europe.
- Voluntary Vampire Victim: Mitsugu desperately wants to be this for Mai, but the latter refuses to drink directly from her as doing so would turn Mitsugu into her thrall. She can drink her blood if it's been drawn out by other means.
- You Wanna Get Sued?:
- When pointing out the litany of crimes the students have committed in Episode 4, Jinko lists Kaoru's Chun-Li cosplay as an instance of near copyright infringement.
- In the same episode, one of the military officials speculates that the flying monster could be Rodan or King Ghidorah, with both names partially bleeped out. His partner dismisses the idea and then asks if they could be sued for copyright infringement.
- Episode 6 is an exercise in self-censorship. The episode as a whole is a homage to Castlevania, specifically the first game, and even when talking about one of its enemies, Flea Man, they talk about how it was supposed to be The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and even that is censored. It reaches a whole level when, apropos of nothing, the Batman logo shows up in the curtain and that is half-censored by a "Self-Censorship" label.