GHAAA-AP: Diabolik Lovers

After a pleasant evening of Ghibli movies (“Spirited Away” ) in the company of the ghost of violet tea (we couldn’t find the tea strainer) and some essential Waitrose Tiramisu complimented by Cheese and Onion crisps – Catriona and I have cornered an important term.

It belongs to a particular form of entertainment: one which a person hates with all their soul but continues – despite the inner cringe, perpetual face-palm and better judgement – to read/watch/listen. It is a masochistic sort of guilty angry pleasure.

Thus GHAP was born.




 Diabolik Lovers has just released its second season this Autumn.

Genre: Reverse Harem (1F + X number of M), Shoujo (aimed at teenage girls), Vampire.

Episode length: 12 min.

Rating: Car Crash Watching (CCW)

’tis been a horrendous sight for my tired eyes if I should speak plainly

 If you thought Twilight was the bane and poison of decades of feminist achievement – then I recommend you see Diabolik Lovers and you will suddenly find yourself sympathising with Edward and envying Bella’s strength and independence. Although S. Meyer seems to be under the impression that we have all simply misunderstood her character and all that was needed was the magic touch of gender bending. I won’t even speculate on whether the creative directors of Diabolik Lovers ever entertained a critical approach.

Anime may be niche in anglophone society, you may in fact think it’s so niche that there is no point in bothering with it – but it is a huge part of Japanese culture and a huge influence on its neighbours. It spreads widely – like wildfire through Australian plains – thanks to video streaming (piracy) and the ease of translating subtitles (shows are usually translated into several languages ex. English, Spanish, Chinese). The content then becomes available to 100,000’s of viewers, more than it was ever intended for. The original script often  becomes warped as meaning changes with each translation.

And thus quietly but steadily all sorts of frisky and misogynistic stuff are creeping into impressionable young minds under the guise of ‘childish’ entertainment. Sure, I may not have been as critical of things in my teeny-tweens as I am today; I did, after all, read Twilight (with all its sequels) – but I have always turned down those series where lead female characters were exploited or compromised. If it didn’t feel right: hyper sexualised, victimised, victim-blaming etc I dropped it like a hot potato, even then I found it hard to palate. I worry for the youngsters who watch this and who may be less critically astute. I’m a hardy warrior. There are lots of things in mainstream serialised anime that one must blindside in order to even begin to enjoy it. But in my books there are no excuses for such trashy, sexist, eye-candy voyerism when there isn’t even an inkling of plot to support it.

Oh dear, did I hear a sigh? But we haven’t even begun! The history of the vampire genre is a long and winding path that currently finds itself split between two camps: a) horror critters (alongside zombies e.g 30 Days of Night) and b) predominantly romantic (adult) fan fiction which features blood suckers with endless sex appeal pooping sparkles. Screen writers also like to use the vampire trope to spice things up with some classic frankenstein conflict pertaining to the nature of the human soul. They too often fall into the trap of presenting the offender as a slave to their nature – a victim who can’t help himself.

If you are tired of such nonsense and want to see some unapologetic monsters who are not made out to be good or likeable I suggest you watch “Let the Right one In” –  it is wonderful. Not the American remake. It will always be one of the first movies I recommend whenever anyone mentions ‘vampires’.

HULK ANGRY because: 

  • Yui – a completely powerless and helpless heroine (an orphan to boot) is delivered by her male relative to a creepy mansion populated by six weird young men who have a people problem. Oh, and they are also vampires, who haven’t been fed in awhile.
  • She soon finds out she is their ‘blood bride’ i.e ‘blood bag’
  • Yui is fed on continuously without her permission (tricky to obtain surely) – the feeding is sexualised and of the ‘she is actually enjoying it even though she don’t tell’ kind. No, honestly, every girl would like to be stuck in a dark and damp house with six sadistic bloodsucking narcissists. A dream come true, for sure. SEXY VAMPIRE RAPING TIME
  • She becomes a pawn in a family feud whose body is literally invaded by another.
  • she is repeatedly told and is given proof that running is futile.
  • There is no escape.
  • the violence and threats to which Yui is submit are always followed by heightened sexual tension (audio and visual cues)
  • we are made to believe that Yui develops, although reluctantly, some sort of vague emotional and romantic attachment to those bloodsucking delinquents
  • Yui is continuously referred to as a ‘cow’, ‘stupid woman’, ‘feeding patch’, ‘boring’, ‘nothing to look at’, ‘Miss Bitch’, ‘blood bag’ and ‘sow’.
  • sympathy is shown for the vampire shonen with emphasis on their messed up and tragic childhood stories
  • shows and glorifies an attempt of rape
  • each episode focuses at length on the background of a male character yet we know next to nothing about Yui
  • Psychosis litmus: male characters alternate between indifferent and seemingly kind attitudes making Yui feel safe to then justify assaulting her both physically and verbally
  • Yui is almost always threatened with corporal punishment (for misbehaviour)
  • Yui is always made to feel that this is her fate and that whatever comes her way: she deserves it
  • the fact that this is made out to be a harem i.e romantic undertones showing ‘look how lucky she is she’s got all the boys’
  • a clear victim-blaming pattern. The only female character is deemed unworthy, not good enough, and therefore is taken advantage of and abused

When I was done with the 4th episode of the second season I wanted nothing more than to wipe my eyes clean and my mind blank of this gunk. I was disturbed and still feel uncomfortable thinking about it.

Having finished the bullet points above I do not feel the need to reiterate why exactly this show left me raving mad. The trend for submissive and cornered heroines in anime is nothing new, but gosh does that room need a breath of fresh air.

“Redeeming qualities” as follows:

1) A half-decent soundtrack.

2) Interesting seiyu.

3) Attractive albeit not original character design.

4) All the colours! Reminiscent of last year’s anime AMNESIA – where the complexities of colour outweighed the plot.


 LIES-LIES-LIES: the moment Yui enters the manor her life becomes utter MISERY filled with PAIN and ABUSE. These young men are psychotic monsters: anyone with eyes and a bit of common sense can see that, no matter how the creators try to justify them through their childhood trauma. 



Author: Nathaniel

Founder and director of Knight Errant Press. Flying solo. An MSc Publishing graduate of Edinburgh Napier University. Freelance translator, occasional writer, editor and digital marketer. Based in Scotland.

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