Ohime-sama dakko

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 shining 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.

20 comments for ‘Ohime-sama dakko’.

I personally think that the loli vampire thing sounds at first like it should be a clever twist on the vampire concept. Ultimately, I don't think that it works because it has everything backwards in terms of sexuality. I thought that the ideal was to have either an adult women that acts like a child, or an actual child (that acts like a child). A child acting like an adult (since Mina is technically one) seems like it's throwing away part, if not all, of what is desired. You lose out on the precociousness, dependency (amae is huge here!), and obedience of a child, and if you love dem ripe mature wimminz, you lose out on that physical aspect as well. Unless of course it's vampiric Saaya Irie or something.

If ANYTHING, I'd think that the true sexual threat (both to the patriarchy and that parallel otaku patriarchy thing) would be independent, mature women. Lolis are just the otaku patriarchy parallel to (the mainstream ideal of) infantilized, dependent adult women. Hell, those U-13 T-back idols are being produced by The Establishment in Japan.

[...] tsurupeta.info says… [...]

Or, another perspective that just popped into my head: how can something that both does not and could not exist actually be a threat? Now, obviously vampires don't exist, but Romanian princes (possibly with scary non-Victorian sexualities!), or more generally, The Other did. Mentally grown-up lolis however do not and will not exist, and it's the "grown-up" part, not the "loli" part that is threatening.

Grrr, stop making me rage (for the 9001th time), SHAFT!

Murasaki & Misaki are "independent, strong-willed and immensely rich or powerful female characters who don't need male support" ? We must have seen/read different versions of Kure-nai (iirc you read the novels, so it may be possible) and Blood Alone. Both of them are unable to live by themselves (and more or less afraid to be alone). Without Kurenai and Benika, Murasaki would be quickly back to the inner sanctuary. And Misaki could create renfields, but she would have to resort he vampire powers, which she is afraid of using. The only reason they can appear strong is because they have a knight in shinny armor that will always be here to save them from any trouble and are OK to play along their whim.

@jpmeyer: I think it looks backwards to you because you have it backwards. It is the loli part that is threatening, to a considerably greater extent than the grown-up part. Prepubescent sexuality was already threatening to Humbert Humbert, but this day and age has made things far more clear-cut. A kiss by a loli is basically a social death sentence, and anything beyond that means jail time at the very bottom of the pecking order. I can only guess what a 2010 Lolita would read like.

The fact that sexualization of children is quite pervasive in our cultures (perhaps even more in the West than in Japan) doesn't make actual child sexuality any less taboo (see e.g. Victorian era scholar James Kincaid's essay Erotic Innocence). That said, the junior idol industry over here is hardly “The Establishment,” more like a vaguely underground network that occasionally causes public outrage and law enforcement raids. Discounting the lone celebrities like Saaya, and child actors which are quite another matter.

As for Mina's grown-up qualities, I guess her character works because she can and does behave in a very playful, child-like way now and then. Episode 1 showed that well, but it was also precisely my point when I mentioned the ohime-sama dakko. The ability to have one's whims catered to by the suitor is precisely amae, and it is not so much dependence as child-like vanity. I'm indifferent or mildly hostile to obedience in children, too, and I suppose most fans of hime-sama characters, immortal or not, would be as well.

@Tetho: Murasaki is definitely presented as powerful in the novels. She even saves Shinkurou's sorry ass more often than he helps her. Part of her power stems from her status as a Kuhouin, however, so it's somewhat limited in the anime (even though she's never in any real danger there, except from her human trash of a brother). After she properly negociates her position in the family, she becomes a lot more independent. Misaki is another matter though, and I guess we need to see the story develop a bit further to assess the actual extent of her power.

My point of comparison is something like Vanity Fair's Miley Cyrus cover in America vs. 30 years of Weekly Playboy (Shuueisha!) putting loli idols on its covers. One gets a huge outcry about sexualizing children, the other keeps doing what it always does and has gotten nary a shrug about.

Or perhaps, lolis in Japan are "bad" in the same way that drugs are "bad" in America?

Finally someone else who thought that first episode was legitimately funny.

Also, I'd have to disagree with how you've interpreted the relationship between Mina and Akira. I'll agree that on the surface there seems to be a clear hierarchy there, but it's a lot more complicated when you think about true intent vs. projected emotions.

I think it's more of a symbiotic relationship, ultimately leaning more in Akira's favor. I don't know if you've read the manga so I don't want to spoil anything in case you haven't.

Now that I've seen the first 3 episodes of Vampire Bund, I can point out where I disagree with you.
From my point of view, Nagi, Muraski, Misaki or Mina clearly don't have the upper hand in their relation with their "protectors" as he is just willing to play along. In all cases (except maybe Hayate's), he could put her in her place quite easily when they are becoming too capricious, but he does not, because it's how their relationship works. In compensation he is allowed to be able a part of her that she cannot show to others because of he social place (It makes me think of Evangelion ep.7, when Shinji complains that Misato is sloppy and immature, to see Tôji and Kensuke explain him that she lets him see this part of her because they are a family), which is also a token of submission as he can play with this side of her to a certain extend (for example when Kuroe feint to be under Misaki's eyes influence or when Akira says he did not remember his promise at the end of ep.3). I see this pattern like this : She is powerful and feared, but because he treats her like a normal being and goes with any of her whim, she shows him her weak side she cannot display in public. Loyalty for affection... In public she is the uuper one, but in private he can play with her and she is very vulnerable to it.
It's kinda like the relationship between Minamoto an The Childrens in ZKC, because he see them as ordinary kids instead of national treasures, weapons of mass destruction, future of mankind or Queens of whatever they are able to open up to him like they did never do even with their own families.

I love how this very loli-moe blog takes a more feministic/gender-equality approach to a lot of it's things(or at least in this article) instead of the typical 'HURRDURR STUPID FEMINISTS/WOMEN' approach. As a more pro-Gender Equality, pro-Sexual diversity person, I'm a lot happier with this.

And yeah, while such situation doesn't make her the amazon, the reasoning behind it isn't in the least sexist. I can see how some people might get agitated that her time to shine gets overshadowed and that she's portrayed as less powerful. People see Akira and go "hey wait a minute, I wanted to see a strong queen woman who isn't overshadowed my her male co-star for once". But she is portrayed as consistently powerful, at least in the manga, and he is her servant. Which is one of the better reasons for such situations where she isn't always the action girl isn't always or in majority action scene. Her entourage also includes a lot of women.

Also while in the first few episode it is regrettably 'damsel in distress'-ish, this right here isn't present in the manga. His action is focused a lot more on his loyalty to her. And he doesn't fight battles in such greater amount or come in at the last second to help her.

I would like to add that she's also one of those 'adult loli' types, and so anyone taking issue with her looks I would personally find a lot more reducing a human/representation of humanity to an object than happening to wanting to draw someone older than they look or even finding them sexually attractive. Because in the end, isn't she an adult character portrayed as an adult age, with an adult personality and maturity? They can challenge why the character is young looking and why we don't mind it, but I think we have more reason to question why they care so much about looks.

Again, I don't care what a person looks like, if you're attracted to an adult with a mature mind, there isn't a problem, that anyone should have. Or at least of decent objection.

Thanks for the input. I find that she was also presented as powerful in the anime too; as I see it, when she relied on Akira, it was more a matter of comfort than anything damsel-in-distress-ish. I should pick up the manga, though.

As for the “adult loli” type in general, I don't really feel comfortable condemning some “taking issue with her looks” as you say. Even though neoteny does exist in the real world and is an extremely difficult predicament to deal with for the people involved, it has little to do with the “adult loli” type as a fictional device within the genre. A lot of why “adult lolis” exists has to do with non-mainstream æsthetic preferences that are somewhat more prevalent in the moe-loving crowd. That is not to say, however, that this is necessarily gratuitous, and it seems to me that Vampire Bund is a good example of a non-gratuitous, narratively justified use of that device.

Thanks also for your note re gender politics and feminism. I don't know if I can consider myself a feminist (nor if feminists would want such company), but I certainly sympathize with the broad goals of feminism, if not with a number of particular views existing in that movement. The reason I end up writing about this now and again, however, is probably that I'm an easily offended liberal, an heterosexual male with distinctly submissive inclinations, and a member of groups (lolimoe otaku, say) to which is often ascribed a desire to dominate and prey on the weak. So the power dynamics of romantic relationships are a deeply personal issue.

Thank you. And this is bugging me, so I'm responding, possibly out of some OCD perfectionism in post, but the wording I wanted to use was "while such doesn't make her the perfect amazon".

While the same statement can be interpreted much the same, it still has a tone less affirming of her as a powerful character. The mood just felt off if I left that way and I wanted to spend more time emphasizing her power.

Such situations don't make her the perfect amazon, but the story as she is queen doesn't call for her to be on the forefront of fights or even defending herself, for not degrading reasons at all(aside from something that is more villainous that appears in the story which is a spoiler and I won't reveal, which I would have preferred a different story direction, but it doesn't make her weak and...yeah I'm not going into it). We all know her life is valuable even with plot induced extra reasons, she's royalty.

And she's equally filled with warrior woman, amazon moments. She's really quite the amazon, far more than say, Louise in Zero no Tsukaima. She spends a lot of time, especially in the manga, 'pwning' her adversaries. The first episode of the anime has her pwning one. Though sadly the second episode has her being saved from some lizard looking monster-o'-the-week instead of being strong herself which totally wasn't in the manga. The manga starts her off with a totally interesting battle right off the bat and doesn't relent the spotlight to Akira once. She spends a lot more time being a rough-fighter than you would expect of most royalty characters. So yes, not the perfect amazon, thanks to the fact Akira gets a lot of time in both the anime and manga, but they generally give them both about equal time to shine as fighters. She's also a strong leader and personality who is willing to make tough decisions.

I definitely recommend reading the manga. As a lot of fans say, it's a lot better than the anime. If it's not to the same degree as the Umineko no Naku Koro ni VN is to the anime, it's close. I'm not some original elitist, but I do believe the manga is quite better. SHAFT didn't know how to go about adapting it and I wish it were grabbed rather by someone like Bones. You definitely shouldn't be disappointed.

So yeah, again, thank you for the welcome. I wasn't expecting any such. I can see myself getting rather getting addicted to/frequenting this blog. And I'm not much of a blog person. I visit a couple, but it's a hard habit for me to get into. But yeah, I can definitely see myself becoming into this blog and continuing to stay here. So I hope to see you around in the future.

Oh, and I apologize for the tl;dr. So, sorry if it's not worth the trouble.

Yeah, I totally didn't fix the minor problem I created. I only managed to clutter up the blog with a bunch of unnecessary, massive text, which has a bad effect on the simplistic look of the blog.

Me and my stupid literary perfectionism.

Please keep that kind of massive text coming. It's way more interesting than people whining about “hating women” and whatnot (not to mention that this blog will probably be a lot more quiet in a day or two, once the Fark effect has died down).

Thank you. I would like to, though that may become harder as infrequent as the new entries seem. I check this place every few days at this rate and fewer and fewer because I keep coming back and not seeing anything as frequently as I'm used to seeing on the blogs I actually do manage to frequent.

I hope we get a new one within, at least the next month or two.
As much as I've been looking for the perfect blog of the loli variety, and was hoping this would be a savior of mine, it can't become that way unless it's moderately, semi-frequently updated.

Ouch, that's a harsh way to put it :p. But well-deserved I guess. I could say I've been busy with real life and it wouldn't be a lie, but I do slack off to some extent. Thanks for the reminder. I'll be back to work.

I'm personally not to keen on the Vampire Bund anime as a whole. I've enjoyed and read the manga since it started being published, and always felt it's pacing and introduction of the storyline was well done.

Yet the anime messes with the chronological order of things, invents that ridiculous TV-show nonsense and invents the entire amnesia plotline. The fight at the estate in the beginning of the manga is missing, the introduction of Mina via the flower-girl scene is missing, the fight versus the two assassins had it's location changed for no reason and has seen that ridiculous thigh-mounted stake launcher introduced, the scene where Akira lotions up Mina loses some of Mina's personality. I could go on like this for much of the anime series, and I just can't get myself to understand the reasoning behind these changes.

Yeah, most of us are rather disappointed by the anime adaption, to say the least.
And no, I'm not a person who always thinks the manga is better than the anime. They really could have done a better job. The manga is incredibly engaging and it one of the better done manga out there. While the anime, while admittedly, is one of the better anime this season, is certainly sub-par as far as anime is concerned.

It's sad how many will badly judge the manga based upon how the anime is when the anime isn't a properly quantification of how good the manga/franchise is at all.

I thought the first episode was quite inventive, and quite smart ; I'm quite fond of SHAFT in general so I may well be quite biased. However, the way they paved their way back to the original story using the "amnesia" cliché made me twitch in anger (the the last episodes didn't interest me much.)
There are other shows that strayed from their original material ; I for one liked the original Fullmetal Alchimist anime, because they really tried to give consistency to their story - and I found their answer to the whole Lavoisier postulate quite interesting (explored in the OVA if memory serves ?)
But then again it also depends on your level of nostalgia toward the old material.

Regarding the original topic, I'll have to disagree on Mina being able to do without Akira as a Queen, especially the way it is depicted in the anime. Many scenes, most notably the flashback, insist on her emotional dependance to Akira ; can you really say a Queen that would endanger her kingdom in a childish "my boyfriend's the best !" bet is independant ?
It also rings true for Sanzenin Nagi ; both are powerful characters in their own right, like you state, but they lack a core strenght of anime characters : whether you call it emotional trust, friendship, love, many - if not all - anime insist that a hero can not exist alone. In that way, Hayate is much more than contingent male support ; he fulfills Nagi as a character.
Many of those overly powerful princess-like characters have such Achille heels, and to put it in your words that would be a characteristic of their "moe" : their downfall is ultimately the most irrational yet human-like trait, the need for comfort / love / etc. That's also the whole point of the tsundere or the megane or even the osanainajimi : they need the shujinkou and struggle to admit / fulfil that need ; the klutz / airhead I never understood so...
There is an on-going anime that poses further interrogations on this subject : Arakawa Under the Bridge. Nino appears as a very independant, if not "stand alone", character, yet she asks Kou to be her boyfriend, all the while distorting the usual take on the classic "romance with a princess" situation. It is also interesting in a mirror perspective, as Kou, a gifted and promising young man, ends up living under the bridge because he "cannot depend on anyone".

Regarding the "princess embrace", there's a scene that perfectly illustrate your point in Sugar Coat Freaks, where Jill - the tsundere princess character, now with more blond twintails and less breasts - twists her ankle and blushes as the main character carries her.

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