I was dancing in the Vampire Bund with this girl and she kept stepping on my feet

A month and a bit ago I said that while I enjoy SHAFT’s adaptation of Dance in the Vampire Bund, my feelings for it are complicated. After ragging on the background music for a bit, I launched into a 700 word rant about how the show looks, then kind of forgot where I was going. Now that we are further down the line, the issues I have with the show have begun to weigh heavier due to the passage of time, and I wish to address them more explicitly.

I actually kind of like the background music better, now. There are some really good tracks, and a handful of tracks that create a suitable atmosphere for the action on screen. There is still that one really bad track they use for action scenes. In fact, I think the staff knows it’s really bad which is why a lot of actions scenes have no background music. Which is a problem, since action scenes generally need some high tension music.

However, my main issues lie with the show’s function as an adaptation–both story wise and visually. While I am as enthusiastic about the show visually as I was the last time I wrote about it, one thing I neglected to mention was the degree to which the show is visually broken. Since Tsukuyomi -MOON PHASE- (The show allegedly had awful animation when it aired. I never saw the TV cut, but I have seen screencaps, and they’re not pretty.) SHAFT has managed to keep their shows more or less presentable for their TV airings, but still punch them up for the DVD release anyway. Due to inner conflict within one of their outsourcing houses along with one of their mainstays–Silverlink–working on Baka to Test, SHAFT has been having a tough time, despite their success with Bakemonogatari. You’d think that they’d have more than two inbetweeners at this point, but they don’t. To make matters worse, while  Bund does have a lot of talking heads, it does have a fair amount of action, and considering the most spectacular action scene that the anime has covered so far was shafted (ooooh!) due to the lack of manpower, time or money, it’s fair to say that there are some issues with this production. Never mind the fact that they couldn’t settle on a visual style for the show and kept messing with various filters episode after episode until they found something that worked.

Direction wise, it’s bit more SHAFT than Shinbo for my tastes. Through the passing years it is my understanding that Shinbo has had less and less influence on what the members of SHAFT do, guiding them in broad strokes as opposed to fine ones. This isn’t bad, as they’re taking the man’s style to heart very well, but I feel something like Vampire Bund deserves the genuine Shinbo touch. There’s not enough weird colours and odd camera angles. Episode seven–despite how broken it was–was pretty good, though. Episode eight wasn’t too bad either.

But my main issue is simply that a good part of what has aired so far has covered a part of the manga that I feel is simply not as interesting as the rest of it. I was excited with how SHAFT mixed up the first couple of episodes, so the subsequent falling back on original material was a little disappointing. I still think what they did with episodes four through seven was better, but not better enough.

Actually, that’s my main issue with the whole show–it’s pretty good, but it needs an extra punch to send it into the realm of awesome. I’m betting that most of this punch will come in the form of a complete visual facelift for the DVD release. Presumably, this visual facelift will be so awesome that any issues I have with the first half of the series will be nullified, and the whole show will just be awesome. They did it with Tsukuyomi, and look how awesome that show is! Don’t let me down, SHAFT!