Call of the Night Episode 10 Review
Kotoyama follows up a touching story about a depressed and fashionable gal bloodsucker with a short arc about a vampire-themed maid cafe. I need no further evidence that we are on the same wavelength. This week’s proceedings are lighter than last week’s by design, but that doesn’t stop Call of the Night from delivering another fun episode with a surprisingly thoughtful conclusion. Hopefully, though, that degree of thoughtfulness is less surprising this deep into the season, as I think this adaptation has by now cemented itself as one of the summer’s finer offerings. You can be horny for vampires and have a heart too, so long as that heart is willing to sacrifice a few pints of blood now and then.
In contrast to Seri’s inner turmoil and Nazuna’s outward weirdness, Midori seems to embrace her fangy life and all its charms. It’s quietly funny, though, that she’s gone with a late-night maid cafe as her base of operations. We see her use her preternatural vampiric attraction to rake in the customers and popularity, but we don’t really see the part where that translates to food for her. The emphasis is less on her duping people with her secret monstrousness and more on how she’s found a comfortable niche in society thanks to the unique benefits of that monstrousness. While this ties into the episode’s conclusion, it more broadly acquiesces to Call of the Night’s general thesis, which is about the night as a place of sanctuary. Midori, like all the other characters, can only thrive while the sun is down, and that’s just fine.
Of course, there isn’t much funny about a maid who’s good at her job, so most of the episode’s humor stems from Nazuna and Ko interacting with the inherent bizarreness of maid cafes as an institution. Ko’s constant befuddlement, for instance, is complemented well by the anime framing him small and wide-eyed in a bevy of shots. But it’s important to note that neither he nor the authorial voice is judgmental of the maids and their patrons. Maid cafes simply present a fiction that both the hosts and customers knowingly buy into and play within. It’s fun because it’s silly. It’s also fun, though, to see Nazuna deadpan her way through the whole thing. She’s willing to help out a friend, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to put in any more effort than the bare minimum required. That’s the Nazuna method.
However, the maid cafe humor is only the garnish. The real meat of the episode comes from Arisa and the mystery of her peeping Tom photos. My first compliment here goes towards how deft Call of the Night is at writing its characters. Arisa is only introduced partway through the episode, but by the end, we have a well-rounded impression of her personality and how she fits neatly into the series’ big themes. I also like how the show has fun with Ko playing detective. Ko never overpowers the narrative in Call of the Night. It is, taken as a whole, a story about his own growth, but I think that only works as well as it does because it knows when to let Ko take a backseat. Growth doesn’t happen in isolation. These other characters and their problems are just as important as his own, and Ko’s capability to listen and have empathy makes him a good protagonist.
We can see Call of the Night’s greatness in how it handles this week’s big reveal too. For a moment, just consider how this looks out of context: the victim of a slew of peeping Tom photos turns out to have faked them herself in order to satisfy her craving for attention. My gut instinct would have expected commentary steeped in misogyny, which would have used this fictitious example as ammunition against the perceived faults of the fairer sex as imagined by a bigoted author. Thankfully, Midori’s conclusion is the exact opposite: Yeah, what Arisa did was messed up, but who the hell here isn’t messed up in one way or another? It’s a message of communal acceptance, not a condemnation of a specific group. To really drive the point home, the adaptation uses some filtered images of what look like real social media accounts. We’re all living, breathing people working through our hangups in one way or another. As long as Arisa’s not hurting anyone, and as long as she has friends who can understand her and help her with her insecurities, then she can post all the thirst traps she wants.
Online discourse tends to be steeped in reductive arguments about morality. It’s a constant race towards a perceived moral high ground, an acme believed to be unassailable. I hate that (almost unfalteringly hypocritical) shit a lot, so I’m beyond happy to talk about an anime that spits in the face of such small-mindedness. Call of the Night argues that the fundamental human condition is to be sick and twisted and that illness, not our lofty aspirations, should be the common ground on which we build our closest and healthiest relationships. We can only extend our hands to each other if we can see each other as we truly are. There may not always be a cure for what ails us, but the camaraderie, community, and the Call of the Night can be just as powerful.
Rating: 4/5 Stars.
Call of the Night Episode 10 is currently streaming on HIDIVE.