Beast folk in uniform are being annihilated on the battlefield and victory will soon be within grasp thanks to the genius leadership of the fearsome Commander Terakomari! All hail Terakomari!! Hurrah! And then she wakes up. Ah, another day as a shut-in, off to a lazy start. Yawn! Wait, who’s that standing by her bed? A…maid-o?!? It seems that while she lay sleeping the night before, Komari’s world changed and now the fifteen-year-old vampire of the noble Gandesblood clan, famed for producing imperial generals, is in line to become Empress?!? The problem is, not only does she really, really need to pee right now, but Komari is also an incredibly weak vampire, seeing as how drinking blood—which is vital to growing up big and strong, oh yeah, and using magic—makes her gag. And in vampire society, projecting power is the only way to survive. So becoming the Empress’s heir is, um, not really very good news. That, and the fact that Komari will have to lead an army to victory a hundred times before qualifying for the crown and that her own army will slaughter her if they scent her weakness. And also the fact that the Empress kicked off this whole process by sneaking into her bedroom and kissing her without her knowledge is kinda really creepy. I mean, Komari is a rare beauty that only comes around once every hundred million years, but still. Ever heard of consent? So now the pint-sized princess commander is going to have to fool the whole world into thinking that she’s superpowered, and all she has to help her is her father’s blind confidence in her, her stunningly good looks, and a maid whose assistance is a bit hit and miss—strike that, is mostly miss—and who gets an alarmingly predatory glint in her eye sometimes.
Well, I made it through the whole episode! Which is more than I can say about the other series I’ve tried this season that rely on low-hanging fruit for their entertainment value. This one is an odd mix: there are some ecchi moments, like when Komari awakens to find Villhaze the maid in her bed and discovers Villhaze’s habit of sleeping in the nude, yet, they are nowhere near as persistent as the boob smooshes in The Family Circumstances of the Irregular Witch. The premise is also pretty sketchy: it’s clear that the underage teen is going to be the focus of multiple female characters’ nosebleeds and teasing. Yet, she’s not objectified or written like an idiot, as with the FL in Butareba -The Story of a Man Turned into a Pig-. So in that sense, viewers will need to judge for themselves whether this one crosses any lines they may have when it comes to ecchi content. In terms of animation, it was surprisingly watchable despite the heavy use of CG backgrounds, with familiar, but crisp character designs. There are also hints at a couple of interesting subplots to come. First off, this is not Komari’s first life. A brief POV flashback to being bullied by girls in school uniforms implies that the shut-in had an unhappy life before she “was born into the Gandesblood clan,” as she phrases it. Second, there’s a point after her first battle where Komari gazes out over the slaughter and makes it clear that although she is following the expected motions right now, ultimately, she has a problem with the way that this entire world works, with its unceasing wars and “might is right“ philosophy. Could she become an agent of change? She vowed to be “a peace-loving righteous vampire,” after all, so maybe. As for the comedy, not all the jokes land (just let her skip to the loo for goodness’ sake), but some do, like a pretty funny sequence with a journalist and fake news.
So, to borrow Josh’s phrase, where does that leave us with this one? I think I’ll give it one more episode to see whether the series seems to be oriented more toward the ecchi-harem route, or the “let’s actually develop a plot here” route. Because the latter could be pretty interesting!
The Vexations of a Shut-In Vampire Princess is streaming on HiDIVE.