Nightwalker is some sort of vampire detective anime. I’m not entirely sure when it first aired, and that whole situation’s probably a bit mucked up by the fact that the first few episodes were originally just a nice OVA to promote the game it was based off of, or something of that sort. Actually, that mucks up a lot of things. Yuck.
But you don’t care about muck, you were all over this the moment I said “vampire detective anime.” Admit it. But don’t go out and buy those DVDs yet! Any concept, no matter how great, can still become bad if you’re not careful. Did that happen to Nightwalker? Mysterious sentence urging you to read on to find out.
I guess I should just get this out of the way right at the start. Since it was originally an OVA or something of that sort, the staff changes pretty significantly after the first four or so episodes. This means that the show feels significantly different after those first episodes. I’m pretty sure one of the main characters even changed hair colours. It’s pretty jarring, really, but you get used to the sudden change pretty quickly, especially if you know about it beforehand.
The art style is a bit dated, but it was probably about normal for the time period it was actually released in. It might bother some people, but it won’t bother the people who should actually be watching this (and I’ll get around to who that is later). The animation is actually alright in the early episodes, but later becomes pretty below average. Overall I just don’t think this looks very good most of the time. It’s at its best when it’s playing with lighting and colours.
It has some really nice music, composed by Akifumi Tada. There are some tracks that you wouldn’t really feel bad about throwing in the garbage if you could, but most of the music actually contributes a lot to its atmosphere. It’s a kind of light-hearted melancholy feel, if I’m allowed to make such contradictory statements.
I’m not really sure why they pretended there was an overarching story. There are a few episodes where they hint at the series actually having something of the sort, but by the time you get to the final episode you’ll realize that you don’t know what this “Golden Dawn” thing is despite how big of a deal an early episode made it seem, and that there was nothing else that could have possibly tried to be a story.
Instead it’s a nice episodic thing. But even this didn’t work out all that well; unlike successful episodic series, Nightwalker didn’t do anything to make more than one or two of its episodes memorable. It’s not crazy to think that you’ll watch an episode one day, and the next day not remember what the episode was about.
The non-recurring characters are never particularly interesting (the main characters aren’t anything special, either, though they are more interesting and work well enough for their roles); and while there are a few that had nice twists to them, most of the “mystery” aspect is either predictable or too nonexistent to be of any interest. Basically, there’s rarely a conflict around for you to really care much about, story-wise.
But I would like to say again that it had a really nice grasp of its atmosphere. It’s also the kind of atmosphere that’s not common in anime, because it’s more a western type of thing. It’s supported and strengthened by the low lighting, the music, and all these lovely noir-esque monologues the main character gives.
That’s all it has though, aside from unnecessary breasts in one episode. And obviously if you want unnecessary breasts you are not going to waste your time with a series that only has one instance of such a thing. It has its great atmosphere, but everything else about it is average at best. On the bright side of all this mediocrity, it’s also short (only 12 episodes!), so it’s unlikely to annoy you to the point of driving you away as long as its style is a thing you can appreciate.
tl;dr actually you probably will enjoy this enough if “vampire detective anime” made you want to jump on it, but don’t go in expecting anything great or you’ll be severely disappointed.