Bloodhound or Blood Hound is a live-action series loosely based on Kaori Yuki’s one-shot manga of the same name; Bandai released the TV series in the US, but the manga has not yet been licensed. It can best be described as: He’s a 200-year old vampire working in a host club; she’s an obnoxious and naïve high-school student; together, they fight crime. More seriously, high-school student Rion Kano’s best friend Shiho is missing; her last message was “Help me, Rion! It’s a real vampire”. There are also reports of other missing high-school girls, and one was found with her body drained of blood. Shiho had a card for Suou, a host at Kranken Haus where the hosts dress as vampires; she gets a part-time job there to investigate; even after Shiho is found, Rion continues to work there and gets caught up in other strange events. I blamed Bandai for the subtitle, but it apparently came from the Japanese; the US release is Bloodhound: The Vampire Gigolo; the Japanese official sites call it 「ヴァンパイアホスト」(Vampire Host), subtitled “The Vampire Gigolo” in English. The Japanese sites list it as six episodes, two parts each; Bandai calls it twelve episodes; in either case, the episodes are in pairs: “Case File” and “Resolution”. I find myself thinking of it as six episodes; this DVD has the first two. I rented this from Netflix, enjoyed it, and bumped the next disc to the top of my queue.
Bandai’s site refers to this as a horror-comedy; it seemed more comedy than horror to me. The first episode follows the main events of the first manga chapter, but there is not much Kaori Yuki-ness left in it. As near as I can tell, the manga chapters were episodic with some background plot (three of four have been unoffically translated by various people with varying quality and readability); I’m not sure if this even mentioned the background plot and I don’t think the other chapters were adapted at all. Suou’s character (and hair color) were changed (at least around Rion, he acts like he’s a teenage boy), and the other hosts are no longer vampires; the manager is no longer bishounen, but an older guy with a cane and a bit of a cosplay fetish. I don’t think this had much of a budget for special effects; Suou’s transformation sequence in particular is nothing special (fancy contacts and effects on his eyes, but not much else). There was one part in the second episode that I thought they could have done better, but it turned out to be a deliberate choice and a plot point.
Rion is the loud and aggressive sort of high-school girl; she kicks Suou three times in their first meeting. She demands to be hired part-time so that she can keep an eye on him; he refuses, and she deliberately breaks a bottle of Dom Peringon so that she will have to work off the debt. The manager feels it would be better for her to have a job in the off-hours instead of having a minor randomly wandering in during operating hours and sets her to cleaning the bathrooms in a maid uniform; he apparently feels that having her in various cosplay sorts of outfits is a good idea.
Suou has a limiter that keeps him in human form and has none of the standard vampire limitations (can see his reflection, crosses don’t bother him, can go out in daylight, enjoys garlic). So far, he has healing, speed, and strength, but not some of the other traditional vampire powers (can’t fly, can’t change form). He’s the only real vampire at the host club; the manager supplies him with blood. Suou is perpetually #2 at the host club, much to his dismay; being charged for the Dom Perignon until Rion works enough to pay for it doesn’t help. So far, the other hosts are mostly in the background, except for the one who inherits Diana (one of Suou’s clients) when he is busy.
Rion is a type that I generally dislike; I usually find the brash and aggressive sorts obnoxious, but I like her. Suou acts like a teenage boy around Rion, but is always “on” around his clients, even when being attacked. I like Rion and Suou’s interaction once she calms down a little and realizes he’s not the murderer; though she still (justifiably) thinks he’s a bit of a pervert. She continues to kick him, but he starts being able to dodge her; he also starts bopping her on the head in the second episode; he calls her out to buy feminine hygiene products for his current client and (lightly) bops her on the head with the bag a few times when she’s being exceptionally annoying or naïve. Suou is a little too enamored of the trappings of vampire-ness and has a tendency to go on and on about his dark vampire-ness; people got away while he was posing or transforming; at one point he was knocked off a roof while posturing. Rion has no patience with this and calls him on it repeatedly; in general, they spend most of their time together bickering.
The main recurring characters are the manager of the club and a female police inspector and her minion (a crime scene photographer, maybe). She is the violent type taken to extremes and wears inappropriately short skirts (and there are very close to upskirt shots on her); her minion is more than a bit of a pervert (taking upskirt shots of a corpse in the first episode, being way too excited over the idol’s corpse in the second). I find it hard to believe that either she or her minion (crime scene photographer?) are actually police officers; they are both extremely unprofessional. I do wonder if she finds out Suou is a vampire over the course of the show, though.
In addition to the minion’s pervertedness, there is a minor amount of focus on Rion’s underwear (and underwear in general); Suou at one point is lying on the floor trying to look up the maid uniform’s skirt, and tells her her debt in terms of the price of used underwear (starts out at thirty and drops as she works). The more I think about it, the more I think that the manga target audience and the show’s target audience are not the same due to the sort of humor used.
At one point, they showed a driver’s license on screen and translated the entire thing (in itty-bitty font briefly at the top, but still, that’s very unusual); I think all text on screen was translated, sometimes very briefly shown, but that’s what pause is for. I can’t remember if Bandai usually has romaji and translated songs; this has both on screen. I seem to remember something that might have been theirs that alternated between episodes (odd episodes translated, even episodes romaji or vice-versa). Extras were a textless opening and trailers for the live-action series The Great Horror Family and the anime series Di Gi Charat Nyo! and Galaxy Angel (probably another clue that the target audience was not what I expected).
The Episodes (with English and Japanese titles)
- The Vampiric Serial Killer — Case File / 「EPISODE 1 吸血鬼連続殺人・事件篇」
- The Vampiric Serial Killer — Resolution / 「EPISODE 1 吸血鬼連続殺人・解決篇」
Described at the beginning: Rion’s friend Shiho is missing, she goes to the club to investigate, eventually all is revealed
- The Invisible Murdering Stalker — Case File / 「EPISODE 2 透明人間ストーカー殺人・事件篇」
- The Invisible Murdering Stalker — Resolution / 「EPISODE 2 透明人間ストーカー殺人・解決篇」
Half of a former pop idol duo is murdered; the victim was on the phone with the other half (Saki) at the time. There were past stories of an invisible stalker; Saki indicates the other thought the stalker was responsible. Saki ends up at the host club extremely drunk, Suou takes her home, and ends up calling Rion to fetch some sort of feminine hygiene products for Saki. For some reason, she accompanies him back to Saki’s apartment. There is a phone message from the stalker threatening Saki while they are there; they look out the window and see the invisible stalker. The three of them end up in a trap but escape after the stalker is killed. Suou and Rion investigate a bit; Rion threatens the culprit and Suou rescues her after being thrown off the building.
Official Sites: TV Tokyo, Toho
the drama at d-addicts wiki
the manga at ANN
Various relevant wikipedia entries; there is a massive spoiler in the Wikipedia article on the manga: Kaori Yuki; the manga; the drama