Adapted from the eponymous visual novel, Diabolik Lovers the anime throws the viewer into a world full of beautiful boys with a keen taste for blood, a gothic atmosphere, and sexually charged visuals. If the formula worked miracles for the visual novels, the animated medium did not farewell. But, Diabolik Lovers is one of those adaptations showing why graphic novels and anime are incredibly different, and more care should be infused when going from one to the other.
The reverse harem anime followed Yui throughout its two seasons and ended on a note prompting the question, “is Season 3 on its way?”.
What happened so far in Diabolik Lovers
Yui Komori was a typical 17-year-old until her father, a priest, decided to send her to live with the Sakamaki family in their manor due to circumstances forcing him to go overseas. On arrival, Yui is introduced to the six Sakamaki brothers, in the most cavalier way possible. She quickly understands that the brothers are in fact vampires and that it seems like her blood is way more enticing to them than normal blood.
However, the brothers are not allowed to taste her as she is their “sacrificial bride”. Not like anyone would listen, anyway. Yui has now to endure the vampires’ deadly embraces while she investigates the reasons behind her presence in the manor and her past.
What is going on with Zexcs?
Diabolik Lovers has two seasons. Season 1 premiered on September 16, 2013 and ended on December 9, 2013 after 12 episodes (directed by Shinobu Tagashira and written by Seiko Nagatsu). Season 2 started on September 23, 2015 and ended on December 9, 2015 after 12 episodes (directed by Risako Yoshida and written by Hiroko Kanasugi). Yuki Hayashi composed the soundtrack for both seasons.
To understand Diabolik Lovers a bit better, one has to first be aware of how visual novels work. Usually, the game will force you to choose a specific route that will follow one character from your harem. Based on your choices, you can end up as lovers, friends and in the case of certain VNs, finish on a high dramatic note (that you could call the ‘bad ending’). Sometimes, the game will have a ‘real’ love interest route that will only unlock after the player is done with the other routes. That system allows for a better replay value and adds more depth to the game as the player gets to connect on a more intimate level with the character they went for.
From there, we can find two types of protagonists: the ‘blank slates’ with a lack of real characterization to be used as self-inserts by the players and the fully fleshed ones with a personality of their own. Otome games (games targeted at women) like Diabolik Lovers often use the former and therefore introduce pretty flat heroines that gain in personality through how female players will live their own experience. And here is where Studio Zexcs got it completely wrong: they tried to cram the whole game in the anime, creating a confusing mess of superficial relationships, plot holes, wobbly backgrounds and boring characters. In its time, School Days made the same mistake by throwing in the whole game and only achieved its status as a classic because of the gore, not because of how terrible the story was constructed. A contrario, Steins;Gate is a perfect example of how to adapt a visual novel into an anime solid and organized.
Diabolik Lovers clearly tried to capitalize on the reverse harem aspect only, with a romantic relationship buried somewhere. One that looks more like a pretense because at the end of the day, you might not even fully understand that Ayato was supposed to be the guy. Why? Simply because the anime goes heavy on the eroticism displayed by the male characters through their abuse (physical and mental). Yui has to go through at least three to four different blood-sucking sessions per episode with different brothers. Remember when they were asked not to touch her in the first episode? Forget about it. Pushing her on a bed, immobilizing her by holding her arms, cornering her against the bookshelf, throwing her in a swimming pool when it is known that she cannot swim, etc. The situations are all really rapey and the visuals and lack of consent do not help. The plot makes an unexpected appearance in the last two to three episodes, and at this point, you can only wonder why because of how bad it is. There was nothing in the previous episode building up to this moment. With all those sucking and schlurping sounds down Yui’s neck, not too sure where good writing could have shone a bit. The story is full of holes due to the rushed rhythm: forcing a whole game with different routes in such a short format (12 episodes of 12-14min) while you are so insistent on wasting time showing aggressively sexual scenes will not do you good. Season 2 introduces new characters, half-vampires, with the same formula: they kidnap Yui, suck her blood, treat her badly, suck a bit more for good measure -rinse and repeat- .
Diabolik Lovers is trying though: each brother is given an episode where their tragic past will be hinted at. Emphasis on ‘hinted at’ because those flashbacks are never really detailed, just brushed on the surface. They are also supposed to create empathy for the vampires, but with how douchey they all are, it is not something you are willing to consider. It does not mean that you will feel sorry for Yui though. The woman is flatter than her own chest, a piece of paper ironed a thousand times, now full of holes and almost translucent. She shows no initiative, no will,no critical thinking. Yui is an eternal victim and she will revel in it by staying in that God-forsaken manor, allowing the brothers to suck her dry day in/day out and call her derogatory names such as Pancake, Bitch or Pig (nevermind the fact that she only gets offended by Pancake because it refers to her flat chest, the rest is fair game). She will even create excuses to trump their behaviour and compliment them at times.
In classic shoujo fashion, you might think that her gentleness and kindness is bound to transform those bad boys: so, you actually thought that good characterization was going to be a thing in this show? The brothers are no better, for if their horrible personality has already been acknowledged, they only enjoy one more additional trait, a cliché one at that. Meet serious brother, sociopath brother, lazy brother, wild brother, etc. There is nothing to salvage from that bottomless pit they call their personality. The douchebaggery is on nuclear levels here.
The character design respects the visual novel with its sexy and good-looking male characters without adding anything new. It stays pretty “otome style”. The environments and backgrounds are actually pleasing to the eye and suit the gothic atmosphere. Some shots in 3D surprisingly work with the 2D (such as the one used to show the manor for the first time). Acknowledge that ‘some’ because it seems like the budget was used for the first episode and they then decided to cheap it up. The animation is subpar, trying to fool the viewers by focusing on still shots of hot and bothered sexy vampires. Still, an anime and a sultry look will not stop us from noticing the lack of actual animation.
What do we know about Diabolik Lovers Season 3 so far?
Nothing. And it might stay this way considering the fact that the franchise even released more games up to 2019, with the ones covering Yui’s story ending in 2017. Therefore, we can assume that it is certainly not an issue with the lack of content that would impede the production of a third season.
What are fans saying about Diabolik Lovers Season 3?
Diabolik Lovers has no subreddit, but there is a sub dedicated to otome games where fans can go and be sure to find likely minded individuals. Other than that, the Fandom wiki is kept up to date and the community is active on the forums. Tweets about Diabolik Lovers are also pretty recent, meaning that fans are still busy on that platform. We can see some talks about Season 3 here and there, but not that often.
The ‘problem’ with Diabolik Lovers is that the fans are, first and foremost, fans of the visual novels. Usually, that is what their posts will be related to. The anime is just one of the numerous products they get to enjoy, but the VNs are the main meal. Thus, we can assume that whilst they are thinking about it, it is not much on their mind. The show scored miserably on IMDB, MAL, AniList and Crunchyroll.
Will there be Diabolik Lovers Season 3?
While the franchise is better known for its visual novels, it actually did not start with that medium. Diabolik Lovers is at its root a CD drama series that then got turned into games. It is possible to find translations of the CDs on Tumblr. The visual novels started in 2012 and spanned over 7 games with the latest release in 2019. They have all been released on PS Vita, with some of them enjoying an additional release on PS4, PSP, PS TV and Nintendo Switch only for the last title. The anime also added an OVA in 2013 that served as an introduction to Season 2.
Diabolik Lovers can also be found in manga form with up to six different titles. They mostly serve as prequels and sequels, with two of those manga directly adapting the first two games. The latest title in date is Diabolik Lovers: Young Blood that started in March 2021 and delves deeper into the past of the Sakamakis. Sentai Filmworks licensed both seasons on Blu-ray in 2020.
Do not misunderstand: Diabolik Lovers is part of a niche that has a big following. Otome games are widely popular in Japan and have been gaining a lot of steam in the west these last few years. You can find a good number of them on Switch and platforms like Steam popularized it further. And Diabolik Lovers is a successful franchise in its own right. It is then normal to find that the merchandising is simply overwhelming.
The only limit fans will have when choosing is going to be their wallet as there is something for everyone (towels, plastic folders, postcards, figures, cushions, tote bags, etc). Checking Google Trends only enforces the idea that the series is popular worldwide. The graph does not even reach zero, and the values have been pretty constant over the last twelve months. Something reflected with the searches on YouTube. The fandom is dedicated.
When will Diabolik Lovers Season 3 be released?
No date is available as of yet.
What can we expect in Season 3 of Diabolik Lovers?
The anime is not good. At all. However, we have to understand that Diabolik Lovers was made for a specific audience: the women into otome games representing do-S (very sadistic) characters and who would feel aroused and content by the abuse of the heroine has to go through. The heroine, namely them, the players. The anime loses that aspect since the viewer is not in command anymore (and that is why Yui is blander than unseasoned boiled chicken), but for the die-hard fans, it is just another way to consume their favorite bad boys. They deserve Season 3, and there is really nothing that should be preventing that…except the financial losses. Except for those fans, no one else is curious about that game of Adam and Eve that has been hinted at at one point.