Diabolik Lovers is one of those anime that you come across rarely. Not because it’s good or anything, considering that not even the BL (Boy’s Love) style homoeroticism could save it from itself. But because it is genuinely such a confusing mix of different genres, none of them work in cohesion. Like, don’t get me wrong. Hot vampires and the promise of a forbidden romance? My Vampire Knight-loving heart should’ve been over the moon. And yet, I’m just left so utterly baffled by this anime instead.
Let’s get this out of the way first: No, Diabolik Lovers is not a BL. But God, I wish it was because at least that would’ve meant there was some salvaging of this train wreck. It’s actually a Reverse Harem, centered around one girl, Yui Kamori. Like every Y/N character from the early 2010s, she is sent to live with a host of hot teenage boys in a beautiful mansion as a ‘sacrificial bride’. Turns out, those boys are all vampires and truly terrible ones at that. So, no queer romance here. Just truly awful hetero ones.
Look, I love a good Reverse Harem as much as the next fangirl. And it’s not like there wasn’t potential here. Diabolik Lovers isn’t a BL, but it is a pretty popular romance Visual Novel from 2012, with all the right elements. It’s got a gorgeous character design, a gothic atmosphere, and the cliché of multiple guys fighting over the cute main lead. It should’ve hit the mark. And yet, this is one of the most abysmal anime I’ve seen as of late. Like, there is no redeeming quality here.
But how do you ruin things so much? Like I get adapting Visual Novels with a harem route into anime is generally hard to do. However, not even the pretty art style could save Diabolik Lovers from the trainwreck that it became. How do you drop the ball this hard? Well, that’s what I want to discuss in F.Y.I., where we expand on frequently asked questions!
The Sakamaki Household: Diabolically Terrible.
So, let’s get one thing out of the way: There is no saving grace in Diabolik Lovers, and I say this while being an utter fiend for the most typical of romance cliches. I am a fanfiction lover, my regular haunt is AO3, so it’s not like I’m going to pretend to have any taste here.
But good God, Diabolik Lovers couldn’t even pull me with the promise of being a less incest-y Vampire Knight. Despite how beautifully it is animated, there is nothing about that show that makes it easy to watch. However, it is the characters that do the worst damage. Which, fine, terrible characters could be a good thing when the setting expands on them. But when I say the Sakamaki Household is beyond any redemption, I mean it.
I honestly feel bad for the main character, Yui Kamori here. Because while Diabolik Lovers isn’t a BL, it is a terrible show to be the sole female in. Why? Because the entirety of the cast is just straight-up nasty toward her. Like, she has no autonomy in that household and acts as their punching bag. It even devolves into Sexual Assault territory sometimes, because a lot of the characters are literal gutter trash who don’t understand how boundaries and consent work!
And, while I get there is some appeal to having multiple boys fight for your attention, it doesn’t feel like any of the characters care about Yui. Instead, she’s passed around like a toy, especially considering Yui herself is just a weak character archetype overall. You don’t feel invested in her struggles, nor do you particularly end up caring. It’s, like, the vaguest form of pity. Especially when you see her being stalked by a character who thinks calling women ‘Little B*tch’ is something ‘quirky’. Like, no girl deserves that, no matter how bland she may be.
Diabolik Lovers Isn’t A BL (And Thank God For That)
First of all, of course, Diabolik Lovers isn’t a BL, because all of the boys here are related to each other. They are brothers, like blood-related siblings. So, it’s kind of nasty that some people thought that. But even if you couldn’t tell they were brothers by their looks alone, you could definitely see that in their absolutely ridiculous personalities. Because each of them is lousier by the dozen. And no, I’m not exaggerating.
The brothers apparently share the same father but were born from different mothers. And so, they obviously end up clashing because, well, you need the drama from somewhere. I wish I was kidding, that is legitimately one of the reasons they act so awfully. Diabolik Lovers somehow created a cast of anime idols whose personalities are worse than most incels online. Like, they actively torment Yui at every point, giving the poor girl whiplash from their mood swings and general obsession with her.
But even if they are good-looking, there is no substance to be found in the actual plot itself. I can see why people would rather have Diabolik Lovers be a BL, because if the characters weren’t related to each other, at least they’d have some chemistry. But as a straight reverse harem, it’s one of the most cringe things I’ve had to see.
Frankly, sadistic vampires that exist to either refer to themselves in the third person or abuse the milquetoast main heroine? That doesn’t make for a very good anime. And that’s literally all Diabolik Lovers is. You’re genuinely better watching an actual BL compared to this garbage.