Hi friends, I hope you’re all doing well!
In lieu of my most recent post, while I am writing this, I was inspired to do a post on a series that I am very fond of, and that is Visual Prison! If you’re wondering what post I’m talking about, it’s of my top 20 anime openings of all time! If you’d like to check that out, you can do so here! I have no idea when I’ll be scheduling this post to come out so because of that, I’m mentioning that right now it’s the most recent post. It might not be once this post comes to light!
But other than that, here’s a little backstory on my history with Visual Prison, more than what I went into on my anime openings post. Back in the Fall 2021 anime season, when this was airing, I was in my final semester of college for my bachelor’s degree. It was crunch time and honestly, I had little to no time to watch anime. I was watching airing anime in the Summer 2021 season, and by the halfway point in August, I was falling behind. I knew that there was no way I would be able to watch the shows I was interested in during the fall season. So with that in mind, I wrote down all the ones I was interested in, and in order to catch up to the newest season, I watched them all in chunks so I wouldn’t get burnt out.
It came time to watch Visual Prison and as it turns out, once I started it, I couldn’t stop. It was that amazing. It quickly became my favorite of the season and eventually, one of my favorite anime of all time. I’ll expand on why I love it in a minute, but I will say that after the synopsis, I will be spoiling parts of this show. So if you want to see the brilliance yourself, click off after that!
Let’s get into it!
Visual Prison? What kind of a title is that?
In the world of Visual Prison, vampires have been around for centuries and live amongst humans in relative peace. Meaning that humans don’t really know they exist outside of fantastical fiction stories and they thrive in secrecy. They live under the rule of the Scarlet Moon, and once a year, a competition called the “Visual Prison” happens. During this competition, the vampire(s) who sing the most beautiful song gets bestowed a great power by the Scarlet Moon. Many visual kei-esque idol groups compete in this competition.
Enter our main character, Ange Yuki. He is quite a loner, moving to Harajuku in order to search for a musician he has idolized all his life. During that quest, he encounters two of the groups in heated clashes in their performances, ECLIPSE and LOS†EDEN. He is fascinated by these performances but then collapses. He comes under the care of Guil and is told he is a dhampir: half-human and half-vampire, and that he collapsed because of overwhelming bloodlust.
Soon after, he learns he can compete in the Visual Prison and learns all about it. Thus, shenanigans ensue with him trying to bring a group together and learn the intricacies of what goes beyond a simple singing competition.
That whole description? I don’t understand how it could turn people off. I mean, come on. You’ve got vampires. You’ve got a unique lore with what sounds like fantastic world-building. And guess what? It’s a musical! That would hook me instantly! I hope it hooks you, too. But let me tell you what else about this show is so magical in the first place!
All jokes aside from it being a vampire musical, the music is actually superb. For it being a series that mostly focuses on its ability to convince you of the talents of the characters’ singing abilities, it does a great job. And that has a lot to do with the spectacular performances of the voice actors involved. Props to you guys because without you, this series wouldn’t have been so awesome!
The competition aspect with the music and the performances were awesome, really nicely paced, and gave enough intrigue for us to be on the edge of our seats with what happened in the Visual Prison’s final decision. The choreography of the performances and the styling of each character were different every time and I loved that!
In almost every episode, there’s a new song to listen to from one of the groups, each of which has its own individual flavor and music style. Though there are so many unique voices blended in each group, you can definitively pick out each and every one! And because it’s a musical, each and every song tells a part of the story, even if it isn’t spelled out to you. Some of them have great symbolism! But I’ll let the music do all the talking for you! I’m going to place the phenomenal opening song as well as the ending song for a little taste! But honestly, it’s something you must experience for yourself!
I’d have to say though, besides the opening song, Guilty Cross is my favorite song from the series!
Speaking of uniqueness in this show, the character designs are simply awesome. It’s very visual kei, but like I said before, each character adds its own flavor. Within LOS†EDEN, it’s got that gothic style going on while ECLIPSE is more ethereal beauty! And then within O★Z, you have many different styles of not only singing but of ethnicities as well! It’s just so nice to showcase something different instead of every character looking similar to another character from a different show. Guaranteed I could pick out and name each character. They all stood out!
And their casual outfits outside of the performances? So transformative! We get to see different sides of the characters in how they conduct themselves outside of the competition and I think that’s pretty special. And besides that, I really like seeing ambiguous characters in presentations like Eve and Elizabeth. Eve is presented as non-binary and Elizabeth is more like a feminine presenting person. I love that representation!
Speaking of the characters, I need to tack on some commentary about them. First, I figured I should talk about Ange. As the main character, he didn’t give me the ick or irritate me like most main characters do. But I will say he wasn’t exactly my favorite main character either. He was enjoyable enough to not groan whenever he came on screen but I wasn’t building a shrine for him. I hope that comes across like he isn’t just tolerable but enjoyable to a degree!
The backstory of his parents and how that slowly unfolded in the later episodes was pretty shocking, but the pacing of that was perfect for us to learn and ultimately, what decision Ange makes on his humanity at the end.
The way he brings together all of the characters for his group, O★Z, was really interesting and quite heartwarming seeing him connect with all of them. He was quite honestly the glue of the entire show. If he was removed, the show wouldn’t make too much sense. Sure, the competition probably would’ve still continued on, but it wouldn’t have enough found family flavor to it, y’know? And to me, that’s an indication of some great writing.
Considering this is an anime original, that’s pretty telling!
I’ll get into each of the really important characters underneath their group name so it makes it easier to distinguish between all of them. That, and so it doesn’t get cluttered with headings for every character!
Getting into my favorite character? You know we gotta! Guil was honestly the most fun character to follow and above all else, to fall for. His backstory of being in the original ECLIPSE and then falling out of love with music was so tragic, but even more so his familial background and his unwillingness to help Ange because of his past trauma. Like I always say, anime men with a sprinkle of trauma is a perfect recipe to make me simp. Other than my crush on him though, I do have to say the way he carries himself as well as his talents and bonds with other characters made me really fond of him also. Not to mention that his involvement in O★Z was like a big exhale of relief when it happened! I just loved him as a character! So I have to highlight him here!
I found Robin to be a really interesting antithesis to Ange. Though in both of their temperaments they are very similar, Robin has that added umph factor of being a famous classical singer when he was younger, while Ange always had no confidence when it came to his singing voice, and had to be convinced by Guil. He isn’t exactly the most awe-inspiring character out there, but I did enjoy what he brought to the dynamic of the whole group.
And Eve? They were a really great balance to bring to the group. While Ange and Robin had very high tenor/moderate voices and Guil had the lower range, Eve brought that higher tone similar to that of a soprano! It added a nice mix to the group’s overall sound. And their personality was pretty mellow and in league with Guil compared to Ange and Robin. So just the cohesivity of their personalities together also worked really well!
I loved their dynamic not only as a group but as a family. It was really heartwarming to see them come together. Made me so happy!
And let me just say this before people with an actual music degree come after me: I’m just talking out of my ass. I can’t actually evaluate what range their voices are in. I’m just guessing!
For it being a two-person group, they really knew how to grab you!
Originally, though, it was not a two-person group, and hearing the fallout of the original first-generation members and how that changed the group for the future was intriguing to learn and gave insight into the perspective of both Hyde and Dmitri and why they pursued the Visual Prison in the first place.
As characters, I found their confidence really refreshing, and the way they conducted themselves was very graceful, rather than the arrogance from LOS†EDEN, which I’ll get to in a bit. Though they’re both very similar, the small differences make their dynamic work pretty well! And of course, we had to have Hyde be voiced by Aoi Shouta, because it wouldn’t be a male idol anime without him!
I also liked how they both made themselves look like each other’s twin when they are members of ECLIPSE! Even though they are technically vampire siblings and not real siblings, it just makes it more aesthetically pleasing. Not to mention in casual clothes, they look so different! They really played up the whole Hannah Montana thing with their personas!
I mentioned that they have arrogance rather than conducting their confidence with grace. And that manifests itself in the whole group but at different levels.
Saga is probably the most arrogant out of the four. Since he is the leader and precious member of ECLIPSE, I can understand that somewhat, especially the latter of the two aspects of his musical history. Of his frustration with that failure. But to me when I watched him, it came off in a worse way than the other four. It could be entirely subjective, but that’s what I saw.
Probably after O★Z, I would say their dynamic is more like a family, but it’s pretty twisted. Jack and Mist are pretty subordinate to Saga and do whatever he says like a puppy obeying its owner. Elizabeth is a little more individual, even when he converses with Ange and Eve as Ange learns about himself being a dhampir for the first time and about the Visual Prison.
Though they conduct themselves like a family, it’s a very twisted ideal of one. It’s like O★Z is the expectation and LOS†EDEN is the reality. That’s not to say I didn’t like their group as placed in the show. I think the show needed a group like this. It shows the realistic facets of human manifestation of personalities, even though this show is about vampires. They were humans once, too, so of course, they’ll have a soul and exhibit themselves in different conducts.
I will say that out of all of the characters though, Jack rubbed me the wrong way more than the others. He is just too sadistic and weird for my taste. You can enjoy him, I just didn’t.
Mist is probably the one I enjoyed the transformation of most. We got to learn about his life as a human before becoming a vampire, and honestly, before that reveal, I didn’t like him at all. I liked that they went into backstories of side characters as well as Ange!
Bonds and Character Progression
This is the thing the anime did best right after music. The bonds between each of the groups and the individual characters all made sense and were realistic. I like a little realism to human relationships in my shows, and despite them not being human, I liked following the transformation of characters individually and within relationships. For example, Eve and Guil having that established relationship, in the beginning, made things easier, but it wasn’t like it felt out of left field. I believed that they were friends.
I just really enjoyed how they built up every established connection as well as connections that were forming throughout the competition. The pacing throughout this show was superb!
Because of many of these aspects, I really enjoyed this show. I was pretty vague about some of the progression of the episodes and left certain things unrevealed because I do honestly believe this show should be experienced in all its glory in your own individual experience! But I love the mixing of genres as well as the music, character progression, and the amazing coming-together aspect that makes our hearts feel all fuzzy!
What do you think, is this something you’d be interested in? And if you’ve seen this show, definitely let me know how you feel about it!
I hope your day/night/morning/evening/afternoon or whatever time it is you come across this post is going well! Thank you so much for checking out my blog! Much love!