Manami is targeted by vampires on her 22nd birthday and K, who possesses tremendous power, tries to save her in a raging battle. On that day, young men and women are invited to Hotel Requiem where a huge nationwide matchmaking convention is being held by the mysterious Yamada. He lives and runs this ornately beautiful, palatial hotel with a bizarre empress and Elizabeth Báthory. Then Yamada suddenly declares to the gathered crowd that tomorrow will be the apocalypse and only the people inside this hotel will be saved. Edit Translation
- Bahasa Indonesia
Cast & Credits
"The feeling overflows, as if it's what we always desired!"If a movie or television were to be compared to a full-course meal, Sion Sono's Tokyo Vampire Hotel blends each dish and dumps it into a steaming stew of blood and esoteric social commentary. From the get-go it is patently obvious that Sono took his chance to create an experience unfettered by any rules except for his own and ran with it- through the streets of Tokyo, the salt mines and towns of Romania and the color-coded hallways and bloody chambers of Hotel Requiem. Tokyo Vampire Hotel is part horror, part romance, part action, part mystery, and completely insane.
Tokyo Vampire Hotel will not please viewers who expect a coherent, logically-paced storyline. The background events and origin stories of the characters, foremost Manami, are glossed over before Sono jumps into the killings and insanity. Such backstories trickle in at different stages later on in the series- such as the second episode, which largely concerns an already-deceased character. The story thus jumps backwards and forwards between the past and present, often multiple times per episode, before taking a final 15-year timeskip in its last few episodes. The progression of the story was evidently not of first priority to Sono, who instead uses it as a vehicle for sociopolitical observations and criticisms. I'm not particularly well versed in such areas so trying to establish meaning from characters, setting and aesthetics was a baffling process.
It seems that the Corvins are representative of Japan's government- feeding off, lying to and manipulating an isolated, dwindling population for its own means. Members of such a population are forced, often against their wills, to enact social dogmas such as 'marriage' and procreation- or face the consequences.
However, this leaves a wealth of potential details (e.g. the Romanian vampires, the Japanese Elizabeth Bathory) unexplored that I'm still trying to figure out- and if Sono wanted to create a difficult-to-understand but thought-stimulating piece, he has succeeded tremendously. I think some other reviews on this site and other sites offer more and better interpretations and information on historical context; this video is particularly interesting-
Sono deliberately uses a lurid blend of colors to create a variety of different effects; creating a sense of entrapment and conformity, highlighting the tackiness of the Corvins' enterprise, heightening emotions and making the gallons of fake blood stand out much, much more. The aesthetics of the character outfits- Japanese gowns, pink zoot-suits, dreadlocks, elegant dresses, military uniforms- creates a sense of dissonance that highlights the conflicts in the series. This extends to the hotel itself- smooth, classical, color-coded on the surface, unnervingly visceral and fleshy beneath the exterior- once more, the pretence of wellbeing, even philanthropy, versus the bloodthirsty agendas of the Corvins (/government).
Acting was of varied quality- many of the minor supporting roles/ bit parts didn't impress. Sono gifts Kaho a leading role after they worked together on 'The Virgin Psychics' (2013) and she brilliantly lets loose as the Dracula agent K- one of the most interesting and compelling characters I've seen in a Japanese film/series. K is a vampiress (or rather, killing machine) who initially appears to have a singular intention in mind- to secure Manami, and thus adopts a Machiavellian, good cop/bad cop approach to achieve this goal. Whether coaxing or intimidating, displaying false kindness, brutality and darkly comedic sadism and veering between cold pragmatism and jarringly girlish enthusiasm, Kaho utterly embodied her complex role- while 'slaying' both in combat and in fashion. In later episodes, where her personal agendas are revealed and she is ultimately betrayed by the Romanians, she also adds a human touch to her undead role- of despair, compassion and surrender.
Tomite Ami, a former AKB idol, plays Manami, a youth whose vampire powers lie latent and undergoes a startling metamorphosis- or rather, a coming of age, as she is exposed to the horrors of the vampire war and Hotel Requiem. I felt she was more hit-and-miss (edit. garbage); oftentimes, her over the top performances, while presumably intended by Sono, strayed over into the territory of being grating and hard to watch. She undeniably had her moments of glory, however- a key one that stands out is when, with a demented grin and trickles of blood, she shaves off her entire head of hair (her actual hair, not a wig). To watch a former pop-idol perform such an unflattering, revealing role was undeniably powerful, and explains why Sono's wikipedia page calls him a 'subversive' filmmaker. (Or maybe Tomite was just desperate to prove her acting prowess. Who knows)
Shinnosuke Mitsushima- oh man. Yamada has the distinction of being both an incredibly hilarious and menacing villian (if a hero-villian binary can be established in this series) and Mitsushima, seemingly taking after his older sister now, is such a pleasure to watch on screen, whether he is being loud-mouthed and hammy, childishly spiteful or quietly and ominously deadly. Not least because he is often surrounded by fire, Yamada is the dreadlocked, pink-wearing devil cast out of paradise for no fault of his own, by a greedy, money-loving god/prime minister.
Adachi Yumi, through her shocking duel-role, Iwanaga Joey, through his badass action sequences, and Shibukawa Kiyohiko as the enigmatic Cody were also major highlights.
The soundtrack is wonderful and, like the aesthetics, is also a bricolage; a melancholic organ/choir refrain, kitschy art song/opera, dance music, electronic/rock music are some genres that are traversed. The opening 'Tokyo Vampire Hotel' and ending theme 'Bumps in the Night' are real bangers- moreover, their lyrics actually pertain to the content of the series itself.
The worst part of Tokyo Vampire Hotel has got to be the awful CGI. One might make a case that it is deliberately bad to evoke a surreal, cartoonish mood, but having a character being stabbed and then the wound mysteriously not showing up is a big no no.
Most reviews for this series are quite negative but this is simply a product of peoples' wants and expectations being met with a blood-soaked slap to the face. Whatever you do, don't watch this with the expectation that you're watching a product of logic and convention.