While I don't really expect Dance in the Vampire Bund to reach masterpiece level by the end of the season, I wholeheartedly agree with hashi that it is the most promising show of the winter. Beyond the hilarious first episode, the mesmerizing opening sequence and the scenes of underage nudity (which we at tsurupeta.info strongly approve of), it is the way the show revisits original vampire myths in the light of contemporary sexual morality that really makes it shine, as was thoughtfully pointed out by E Minor over at Moe Sucks (a site that doesn't always suck!).
He does however express some reservations regarding the show's message which I must take issue with. In episode 2, he notes, Mina is “protected” by Akira a couple of times. Therefore, he concludes, despite its seemingly powerful, assertive heroine and its unconventional representation of sexuality, Dance in the Vampire Bund ultimately conveys a conservative view of gender roles. I think this is a misperception of the power dynamics at play in a couple such as Mina×Akira.
Take gallantry for example (by which I mean the male habit of chivalrous courteousness towards women). It is a socially codified ritual of male submissiveness to women. Feminists tend to reject it not as a threat to gender equality, but as a rather insignificant concession that the patriarchal order makes to women when all major areas of society are dominated by men (economy, politics, you name it). Not to mention that ritualization itself makes all those chivalrous acts rather meaningless.
Mina, on the other hand, is not a helpless victim of a patriarchal society. She is powerful and dominant in an absolute sense: a rich queen endowed with superhuman aptitudes. Signs of submissiveness towards her can't be paltry excuses to overrule her in other areas. Especially when those signs are not socially codified trifles but out-of-the-ordinary feats.
Consider Akira's “protection” in this perspective: not an assertion of
strength or dominance, but a statement of fealty and submission (in
keeping with his childhood oath). Conversely, it is a token of power on
Mina's part to be able to have such a knight in
armor black fur (which she could most likely do without, seeing
as she shrugs off a missile attack). All she has to do is call his name
and he will leap forward. The power play is even more obvious in the
instant-classic gel scene.
This is not an isolated case. Mina is what I'd like to call a hime-sama character, though an unusually mature one. Other examples include Sanzen'in Nagi, Kuhouin Murasaki or Minato Misaki. They are all independent, strong-willed and immensely rich or powerful female characters who don't need male support, but they can and do obtain it easily if they desire it. Blindly devoted support by unusually gifted older men. (Need I mention I love that pattern?)
A recurring image in those relationships is the ohime-sama dakko—gently carrying on the arms (the proper way to embrace princesses according to shoujo manga). This gesture underlines both the girl's child-like whims (wagamama) and her sensual, bridal appeal, which are but two aspects of her dominion.