I decided to give this franchise a separate post, because it's one of my favourites and because it's a really strange and interesting series that not everybody likes. To be quite honest with you, I haven't even played every single Diabolik Lovers game or listened to every single drama CD yet, but I've seen enough to write about it.
There is a Wikipedia page on the series that you could read, but I feel that it lacks a lot of information. It hardly mentions the drama CDs, which were what started the franchise. Instead it just says that it started off as an otome game, which isn't true. This page turned out to be really long with hardly any images (sorry about that!) and it basically serves as a guide to the franchise.
Please note: I didn't really edit much of this because I was tired, so I apologise for any spelling/grammar mistakes!
The first Diabolik Lovers drama CDs were released in late 2011 by a company called Rejet. The whole point of them was to cater to women who wanted their bishounen to be super sadistic, abusive twats. I know it's a weird thing to be into, but if people didn't like this, Rejet wouldn't have made more of them. Each drama CD focused on you, the listener, and whatever vampire boy was on the cover. In the first series of discs, there's not really much of a plot or anything, just blood sucking and all that stuff.
These are the only two drama CDs that I own, which happen to be the first two in the entire series. I really love the art on the covers.
Even though my poor Japanese stops me from fully comprehending what's actually happening on each CD, I still really enjoy them because of the excellent voice acting and the use of the dummy head microphone. If you don't know what that is, it's this microphone that's shaped like a human head. If the voice actor speaks into the ear of the microphone, the finished product will sound like someone's actually whispering into your ear, as long as you use headphones. Quite a few drama CDs use this because it makes it really immersive. It's just surround sound really, but it's super satisfying to listen to. Also it feels good when I can actually understand bits of what they're saying.
Since 2011, they've recorded many more drama CDs, so many that I can't keep track of them all. A complete list of them can be found here. You can often find them for cheap on Amazon or you can just listen to them on YouTube before you buy. The official website actually has audio samples of them as well. If you don't speak Japanese, there are loads of fan-translations floating around on the Internet to help you understand them.
In 2013, Rejet teamed up with Otomate to release the first of many Diabolik Lovers otome games for the PSP, Haunted Dark Bridal. (This is actually the only one I've played because it's the only one I can find cheap right now) It's interesting that they decided to release it on the PSP when the Vita was already out by then. This game is very similar to the drama CDs and doesn't really have too much of a plot. The dummy head microphone is also used here, so I think that using headphones is absolutely necessary to appreciate the surround sound voice acting. In this game (and in every other DL title) the MC is called Yui Komori. She's really just a blank slate self-insert protagonist, and a lot of people dislike her because she's a doormat who lets everybody walk all over her. I don't really mind her that much, but sometimes she just feels really naive. The game was also released for the PS Vita (and I think the PS4 too), but I didn't get that version because it was way too expensive. It has way better graphics and even comes with extra after stories, I think. (There's a group of people working on a translation patch for it here, and I'm actually a proofreader for it!)
(Sorry, my PSP screen looks really dim here because of my iPhone's camera flash)
Yui ends up being dumped by her father to live with six messed-up vampire brothers. The player has to choose one of them to suck her blood, which then begins the route of whoever she's chosen. Each route starts off with her chosen love interest not really caring much about her at first, but eventually it gets more romantic. Even though this game sounds really strange, I honestly enjoyed it. I played it all in Japanese and then read a summary of each route in English to understand it all. Even though my Japanese was rubbish when I started playing, it actually got slightly better because I learned some new vocabulary and grammar. Most of the words I picked up were fantasy or romance related and wouldn't be useful in the real world, but at least I learnt something. (If you want to see the blog posts I made whilst playing, click here. Go right to the bottom to start from the earliest post.)
I suppose I'd better talk about the main love interests before I go any further. They added more boys later on in the series, but I'll just introduce the originals that you find only in the first game, the Sakamaki brothers. Below is an image for reference. From the left is Subaru (my personal favourite and probably the nicest boy in the entire game who actually somewhat cares about the heroine), Shu (the oldest one, but the least responsible because he skips school a lot and spends 90% of his time sleeping, he probably still has the nicest singing voice though), Kanato (the bratty shota yandere who I couldn't stand at first until I played his route), Ayato (a tsundere who's probably one of the most abusive out of the six, but I liked him enough to buy his drama CD), Laito (a pervert who I didn't really care for at first either but his charisma won me over) and Reiji (a "tableware otaku" who's really strict, speaks in a really sophisticated way that's harder to understand and shares the same favourite food as me). I didn't care for all of them at first, but eventually I grew to like all of them even though they're not exactly the most likeable characters. They all share that Do-S (it means they're sadistic) personality trait, but eventually they soften up a little bit.
After Haunted Dark Bridal, they made another game titled "More, Blood", based off of the second lot of drama CDs that were released. I don't really have much knowledge since I haven't played them yet (as of May 2019), but I can at least tell you something about the second one. For some reason this game isn't a direct sequel or fan-disc, it's just set in a completely alternate universe. They threw all of the plot from the first game out the window, and made it so that Yui never actually picked a love interest in the original prologue, so she picks one at a later date in this game instead. I don't really know why they did this, because it means that you start from square-one will all of the love interests and have to go through the whole ordeal of getting them to fall in love with Yui again. There's also four more love interests for our heroine to pick from, called the Mukami brothers, and they're all just as douchey as the original six. From the reviews I've read, there's more of a plot in this game, but it's quite a crazy and strange plot that apparently sounds like fan-fiction. I might end up skipping this game and just moving onto something that's a direct sequel of the original with more fluffy moments in, even though the new characters here do seem quite interesting...
Also, I forgot to mention, but there's also a Diabolik Lovers anime. It actually got dubbed into English, even though Rejet don't want the games localised because apparently they think us foreigners are all pirates or something. (But if they don't bring the games over, won't that just cause more piracy?) I don't think the games would get translated anyway because of what's in them, but then how did the anime get an English version? The anime was actually what made me aware of this franchise.
Story time: It was 2016 or 17 or something and I was in my weird edgy anime phase. I watched this video called "TOP TEN WORST ANIME" or something and they mentioned this anime called Diabolik Lovers. The art interested me, so I decided to watch the first episode. It was bad, but I couldn't hate it for some reason (maybe because all the boys were cute?). I looked the franchise up and found out that it was a visual novel franchise. "How interesting," I thought, forgetting about it almost immediately, even though I was planning to watch more of it. Fast forward to 2018, long after my anime phase ended, when I got into otome games. I saw Diabolik Lovers and I was like "I remember this!". I thought that it was translated into English, but after many eBay searches I realised that it was available in Japanese only. So I decided to learn the language and eventually buy the first game and some drama CDs. And now I'm making this post. I never bothered to watch more of the anime.
Anyways, I think the anime follows the plot of the first two games, except Yui never actually hooks up with one of the boys, they just all suck her blood instead because they probably didn't want to pick one and make it look like the true canon route for her or something, I don't know. I can't really stand the art in the anime though, it's really hideous compared to the art from the games and the CDs and everyone looks really strange. I suppose it's worth a watch for a newcomer if they want to see whether the games are worth it or not. Each episode's like fifteen minutes and there's only two seasons. They're probably going to make a third one too, because Diabolik Lovers is quite popular in Japan and also in the West (mainly on Tumblr though). A lot of anime fans in the West outside the fanbase who've watched the series think it's absolutely awful, and it's funny reading all of the bad reviews for it on My Anime List. There's also a manga too, but that's not available in English and I don't really know much about it to be honest.
So, back to the games, there's about ten games (as of May 2019) and the most recent one was released in April 2019. Two of them are for the PSP, one collection of three games is for the PS4, seven are for the PS Vita and the latest one is for the Nintendo Switch, which is a shame because it seems super interesting but I don't have a Switch to play it on. :( Sorry PC people, DiaLovers is a console exclusive unless you use emulators.
From what I've gathered looking at a post from this Facebook page (I can't seem to make a direct link to the post because of the way FB works) , all of the fan-discs and sequels afterwards seem to follow both the endings to More, Blood and Haunted Dark Bridal, meaning that you could probably pick whichever game's route you want to consider canon. That sentence sounds really confusing, but this plot timeline seems to be confusing two. The games Dark Fate, Lost Eden and Chaos Lineage are proper sequels with plot and stuff, whereas Vandead Carnival and Lunatic Parade seem to be just fluffy fan-discs. There's also three new characters who were introduced after the others I mentioned earlier, Carla and Shin Tsukinami, as well as Kino who's really just an extra Sakamaki brother who nobody knows about at first.
The final bit of Diabolik Lovers media I have to mention is the character songs. They're all just soooo good. There's a lot of popular Japanese voice actors involved in this franchise who can all sing really well. My personal favourite DL song, Fanatic of Night, just happens to be the theme of one of the games I haven't played yet. :( Here's a playlist of some of the songs for you to listen to, these ones are the better ones in my opinion. I also forgot, there's a musical play version of DiaLovers, too, (lots of otome games get stage adaptations for some reason), but I'm scared it'll look really awkward in live action, so I haven't bothered to look at it.
I did say earlier about how everybody in this series is a sadistic loser who treats Yui like dirt (except Subaru sometimes), so you may be wondering "Misty, why on Earth would you enjoy something like this???". I have no idea why I like this series, because I don't really like abusive people in real life for obvious reasons, and because I've watched vampire films like Twilight and I end up disliking most of them. For some reason I'm fine with tsundere and yandere characters in otome games though. I dunno really why I love this series, maybe it's because I just think the art's pretty, the music and voice acting's nice, and I've just gotten attached to these characters somehow. It's hard to explain. This franchise must be doing something, because it seems to have quite a big fanbase of mainly girls in both Japan and the West, like I briefly mentioned before.
So, if you're a newcomer, how do you get into this confusing franchise? I'd just suggest watching the anime first to see if you're comfortable with the subject matter before investing in the games and the drama CDs. The Japanese dub is probably better than the American English dub because those are the original voices used in the drama CDs and games, plus they probably sound better. You don't necessarily have to go into the games if they're too expensive, you could just listen to the drama CDs since you can get them cheap or on YouTube with translations. Like I said before the games have plenty of translations in English available, plus there's also a lot of Spanish translations as well. If you want to find people to discuss it with, just search it up on Tumblr and you'll find people. I know it's not exactly the best social networking service, but that's really one of the only places you can find loads of people who like it. There's a lot of headcanon and fanfiction stuff on there, if you're into that. A lot of people have only seen the anime (since it's harder to play the games unless you're willing to impport) and they tend to romanticise a lot of the darker aspects of the series, but at least it has an active western fanbase.
That's basically all I have to say about the franchise. I'm going to make a basic guide on playing the first game for people like me who suck at Japanese, but I haven't even started writing it yet. Expect to see that coming some time soon. Until then, that's the end of this post. If you've stuck through it this far, good for you!
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