"Headcanons" about Vampirism in Diabolik Lovers
(Kanato centric but a lot of general thoughts too)
After some late night philosophical talk with @calystegiabit I feel the need to adress the elephant in the room: Kanato is a vampire. Naturally, being the person I am, I ask myself how that affects literally everything. Before diving into the matter, we have to assume Kanato is the way he is because of his "condition". I've been obsessed with vampires since kindergarten (thank you mother for the gift of life and also the book "The little vampire" which kickstarted my descent into goth culture, (un)necessarily dramatic poetry and sexy black clothing) yet I still haven't written about the sociology of the vampire up until now and really don't know why. I guess all the things there are to say about vampires have become such everyday facts to me, somehow it feels like stating the obvious. How silly, nothing is obvious.
So let's do just that today: How does the fact that Kanato is a vampire change him compared to a hypothetical human Kanato? How does it affect the workings of his mind, his perception, image of the self? What does it do to him to be immortal and forced to mutilate to survive? And why are my headcanons the way they are, what are the premises I use to write "A certain truth" and why did I decide to choose them the way I did? Because Rejet is quite subtle about a number of basic Vampirism related topics or doesn't refer to them at all, we'll just have to pick our own favorite fantasies to fill the gaps. Here we go:
(This post is very long, sorry not sorry about that :'D)
Of course there are endless possibilities to approch all of these questions, like always, and I could write a whole book about Vampirism in general, but let's just keep to some basic, impactful thoughts to get a hold of the situation.
Vampirism as a concept is sexy and has been successful for a long time because of it and I think one of the main reasons is that Vampires embody some very basic human needs. While I don't believe in an essentialist human nature, I feel that death and hunger are so basic to the human experience that a creature who is just that, but multiplied to infinity, has got to elicit some sort of reaction. Vampires are relatable, but in a forbidden way. The human mind cannot grasp infinity, yet seems to strive for it nonetheless. History is littered with people obsessed to find not only the meaning of life but to transcend beyond the need to grasp it, to get one with it and experience it from the inside. Humans long for immortality and are attracted to things that symbolize that hope of infinity actualized. People create art and build monuments to transcent their own death. They carve their names and those of their lovers in furniture and trees (culture and nature) and seal it in a spell of eternity in the form of a heart that shall be immortal and beyond the need of beating even when their own wither away and won't sing a song of love no more.
The vampire is just another poem of infinity humans recite to summon death in their minds and conquer it in the same motion. Vampires seduce the living and rob them of their lives to prolong their own. And at the end of pain there's a hope and a promise: the vampire will either return - for he needs to quench his thirst repeatedly, eternally, he is an unfinished motion in need of completion - or he will drag you "down into the depths where he is" (to quote Kanato) that is, he will make you his equal, a vampire, and destroy you therein to grind you into proverbial star dust to hunger for structure and guidance indefinetly. Sigh. Humans and vampires are, conceptually, two sides of a coin that complete each other:
Vampires are infinity yearning for finity, humans are finity yearning for infinity. In the bite of the vampire both get a glimpse of existence through the other's eyes. Red hot blood awakening a leaden heart, the promise of entropy in every drop. Fangs piercing a wound yet sealing it tenderly with a kiss of eternity, each drop spilled a pearl collected and put on a string in the guts of life eternal.
Sorry to get all sappy about it, but that shit comforts me greatly, I cradle it in my heart. Now Rejet is clever about this. Very much so. Because when a Vampire turns a human into a Vampire, in many stories usually his lover, it's the end of the story. If the story goes on beyond that point, it's either because it wasn't about the concept of Vampirism at all from the start or it doesn't need to be anymore because the driving conflict is an entirely different one and Vampirism is used as an aesthetic rather than a story device. Or it's just about suffering with no point or romance to it. Or, as much as it hurts to say this, it's a franchise and needs to go on no matter what because people need to eat and the so called free marked enslaves us all. I don't like that way of thinking, no matter how true it is, because it leads away from the art itself and believing that art of past times was somehow more "pure" and detached from financial needs and power relations is plain ridiculous.
So let's just assume the writers at Rejet defined the rules of Vampirism as they did because of internal needs of the artwork at hand. DL's Vampires can suck each other's blood and they like it. When Yui turns into a Vampire, Kanato even comments at some point that it makes no real difference for him, she's just as sweet as before. That is not the same as nutricious and we also see them attacking a village and presumably going on a hunt there in one ending so they probably also suck the blood of humans additionally. Thematically, there'd be a conflict here if this was a traditional love story. Modern love stories are about undying love and exclusivity. Sucking blood is what Rejet uses to symbolize sex and sadism in the franchise.
In fact, fangs piercing flesh and sucking the wet juices beneath are a very powerful sexual symbol that's being eroticized over and over in art without any sign of it turning boring for good reasons. Why? Because, one could argue, viewed from the perspective of a person socialized with traditional gender norms the fact that there's "penetration" and "eating out" involved in a single motion tickles our culturally internalized understanding of traditional gender roles. "Man penetrates, Woman gets penetrated." Yet the fang which penetrates is surrounded by a wet and soft mound that sucks quite submissively at the wound it created. The vampire makes a hole in the body wherever he pleases, but he closes it with himself at the same time. It's simple symbolic sex with a build in moment of violence and yes also the thrill of being taken against one's will. And yet! The vampires mouth carries a sort of androgyny because it receives something of its victim in turn and sucks at it like eager pussy. xD forgive me, but you get the picture. But to drive the point home let me add: The Vampire's fangs are a symbolic phallus, yet it is the one penetrated who ejaculates into HIM. Now imagine being a woman in the 1800s socialized with the most heavy handed mysogynistic, sexist bullshit. No internet, hardly access to relativating content. You eat that shit up and have opinions about it, but there's hardly room to voice your unease. And then you come to read Carmilla! Carmilla, one of the very first Vampire stories known. A female Vampire creeps up to your bed at night. Empowered by a pair of fangs, "empowered" because you have seldom choice but to believe women are the "weak gender", it won't be long until Freud comes around to argue all women are unfulfilled because they lack penis after all, we're at that point in time. It will be decades until people start to acknowledge that being trans is even a thing. And then you have Carmilla haunting your sleep, a nonbinary pleasure, a slap to the cheek of the supreme rule of women=submissive, men=dominant somehow being "nature" or "as God intended". Vampires are sexy because they are symbolically both sub and dom at the same time. They are violence in full motion yet shaking beneath the weight of their own existence. A measured slap at their heart and they crumble to dust. Why do you kill a vampire by piercing its undead, useless heart? Because they are longing period. The moment they can't hunt after life they are nothing. What do I mean by that?
The pierce of the fangs is meaningless if it's not followed and completed by the submissive sucking at the tit of life itself. Without a heart, where will the vampire cradle his pain? Because what he does to himself to survive is torturing his heart with a glimpse of what he desires above all else: death. A stop to his eternal violent motion. A Vampire is completed in death and sucking blood, drawing the life of others, is both an erotic way of torturing himself by tasting what he'll never have. And also the experience of a little death through another. Imagine a heart fluttering beneath your hands. It taunts your own hollow chest and yet you hold the power to make it as your own. The Vampire takes life in his mouth to find pleasure in his pain of unfulfillment, but what he's thematically really after is the moment the source runs dry. The last drop which carries death in its depths slips past his lips. When he swallows it down, he is dead for a second.
What supreme peace in another's terror! The orgasm is called little death in french, as you may know. And that it is. Killing a human and experiencing death through the fading of their heart must feel orgasmic to a Vampire.
Full stop. Aha! And yet Vampires are shown to not kill but enthrall and use their victims repeatedly instead of killing them. There's your hook for romanticism. Exclusivity is an option. And suddenly the monstrous terror of the night can be observed instead of only experienced. The first time he attacks you, it's surely a near death experience. Depending on individual depictions the sucking can be an all out attack like a wolf ripping at your throat but also a tender luring and seduction kind of situation. But even then, imagine some stranger walking up to you and ramming teeth into your jugular. That's got to be traumatizing even when he asked nicely to please enter your home before.
Either way it's probable you don't really have the space of mind to reflect on it all while it happens. That may change when he returns over and over again though. It makes room for comparisons and questions and sympathy or hate. Surviving leaves the victim with questions and the Vampire returning creates opportunities for asking. There's a relationship suddenly. And the question: Just what are we? You assault me and moan against my neck and then just leave? Don't return!! Or - maybe, stay?
So when Rejet decides to just go on after Yui turned into a Vampire as if nothing even happened it's just strategic. They illustrate that they know exactly what vampires are about by introducing Subaru. And yet they choose to dismiss the inherent and complimentary difference between the human and vampirric experience. Why?
Yeah, well, because Yui loses her worth if she can't satisfy Kanato's primal lacking anymore. She can't die for him to be condensed into that drop of death he longs for, the story would end if she did. She can't just be his blood packet either, because where's the romance in that? She needs to be different from other people. And she already is, she has a very special heart and thereby very special blood. But then again, this story is all about rivalry, she needs to be marked as his. All of the conflict presented is about the classic harem constellation. All want her, yet cultural norms and storytelling twist the original idea of harem (poly relationship) into a show of competition. So what else to do but make her choose by picking Kanato's fruit specifically.
Eternity blends into a string of "firsts" (and maybe "lasts"). We all experience this to a certain degree right now: the pandemic prevents us to engage in fun activities which make our days special usually. Our memories turn muddy because of that: there are hardly any landmark memories to differentiate days in the map of our minds. We experience "model days" that are hard to remember because they seem to be all the same. Imagine being a Vampire. Nothing matters anymore. So many opportunities to do everything over and over until you can't tell whether you did something like 10 or a 100 times and when even was that at all?
So aquiring meaning must be everything to a Vampire's deteriorating mind. And since Vampires are kind of like a "-" (dash; fun fact: the german word for it is "Gedankenstrich" or literally "line of thought"/ mark of thought) suspended in a void, forced to process itself yet disconnected from the meaning of it all, "first" becomes the only mark of time that can be adressed. A Vampire's experience is a line reaching until infinity. As an object in the mind, you can find where it starts but after that you are kind of lost when each consecutive point in line looks just like the others.
There's even a quite common theme in thriller and crime stories: The killer is haunted by their first victim. It's always the first one in stories, even though one could certainly ask: so the struggle of the others was meaningless to you? Maybe the second fought way harder, was more desirable to you for whatever reason, no? How about the 100th, surely yout methods are refined by then and your taste seasoned to make the best choices? Still the first? Why? Well, there can be theorized lots and lots about the meaning of firsts, especially considering the symbolic meaning of virginity in a world shaped by abrahmic religions. It's kind of a thing in those stories, you know. For Vampires let's conclude that Rejet maybe, probably, one could argue, conclude that Yui is turned into a Vampire by Kanato because she has more meaning to him this way and is marked as his and also because she was probably the first he turned since there's only corpses in his doll room as far as we know.
And that's my next point of interest: The way she was turned is kind of peculiar in the context of Vampire stories in general. Often it is presented as a kind of devilish contract signed in blood. He drinks from her, she drinks from him. And the fact he presents his neck and turns victim reinforces his duality of submissive domination to completion. Full circle the hunter becomes hunted in a kiss of death when his rotten, useless blood is accepted as if it were full of life. I see it as a symbolic suicide, the victim is victim no more when she approaches death in her own free will to let it fill her. She wants to be like him even though she saw everything it does to him, his suffering, his eternal hunger. And she says: I don't care as long as I am with you, forever. And how fucking romantic is that. She drinks from his useless undead heart and it means: I not only want to comfort and complete you, I want to be in your image. There's a sacred notion to this pledge. It's a kind of insane martyrdom to throw away for your love what made you valuable in his eyes in the first place. And what insanity for him to agree to it! To say: I see you, I see you not only as the symbol that comforts and completes me, but a PERSON with value beyond. I don't care about your blood, I care about you. Because usually Vampires don't drink other Vampire's blood. They turn other people to Vampires to enact the humanity they long for. Vampires must love and hate humans. Humans that are granted with a mortal life that gives meaning to every action, for it could always be the last. Humans that have relationships with each other, yet are mentally shielded from the fact it will end someday, when one of them dies. So as revenge and for the illusion of humanity and human relationships, Vampires turn people into thralls.
The exchange of blood is a powerful symbol in this context and yet Rejet goes with the alternative: Depending on the iteration, the Vampire will either suck repeatedly from a person and thereby enthrall their mind, maybe by magick or some kind of addicting venom, maybe even pure charisma, or he will feed his thrall small portions of his blood and thereby bind him. In these last cases it's usually the bite itself that's missing to trigger a transformation of the thrall to a vampire. When Kanato asks Yui to drink his blood in HDB I got really excited, I thought this is it, he turns her into a thrall, how exciting, maybe it even turns her into a Vampire, how meaningful! Well, first of all, she doesn't want to, which is all kinds of exciting since I hardly know of any stories in which a human gets offered life eternal by a Vampire and says "Y'know maybe not?". What a gut punch to me, the Vampire thirsty audience. But she is right to hesitate, firstly she doesn't know what the gesture means and what will happen to her, secondly she can only assume the worst since Kanato is, well, Kanato. So she really doesn't bite him at all in HDB if I'm not completely misremembering right now. And she turns anyway and it is implied, maybe even said by Kanato, I think, that is happens just because he keeps sucking from her repeatedly. So no contracts, no exchange, just the fact that he tolerates her enough to keep her alive to suck repeatedly instead of sucking her like a juice packet and discarding her somewhere in a trashcan (yeah I don't think Kanato is the kind of person to litter his trash btw, he's a clean and behaved rat).
At first I was grumpy about it (still am tbh) because the biting back ritual is insanely meaningful symbolically and also, let's not pretend as if that is any less important, fucking kinky and very sexy. To have an insanely dominant and sadistic character like Kanato offer his neck is like the peak of eroticism to me. Maybe it's just because I'm a bratty switch, but leave me be, I'm sure you see it, too! It's the dragon bowing down to receive the knight's final blow, it's the devil stilling his lying tongue to lap at yours instead, it's the illusion of a humanity lost blooming like a caleidoscope and creating a motion and color against a cold and empty canvas, like holy shit, not to wank all over myself, but to have the embodyment of hunger consciously and willingly feed another being and experiencing himself to be ENOUGH TO SATISFY EVEN THOUGH HE IS EMPTY. jskdbbdkdkdbkekejfubalduxb
And they at Rejet know this, they know, I'm sure. That's exactly why it doesn't happen like that. Yui just "ends up" being a Vampire. It "just happens", it's an accidental pregnancy, they fang fucked too much, it was bound to happen. Oops!! All meaning lost there, in favor of sadistic torture. Yui doesn't turn into a Vampire because she is of any value to Kanato as a person but because he is addicted to the nostalgia she represents. Because she is memory personified, memories he keeps loosing as he grows older and older and more lonely and bitter. Cordelia is the only thing he can't seem to forget yet desperately needs to. He can't sleep, he's half past dead even in Vampirism terms. He's killimg himself by clinging to his nostalgia and - it pleasures him. OOF.
He's filled with trauma that's bound to reprocess itself in his restless mind and the momentary release Yui's, no Cordelia's blood grants him is the worst coping imaginable. Nostalgia means "homecoming" and "ache", it's the sweet ache of remembering a wound that belonging ripped into your heart when it left. Kanato tragically belonged to Cordelia, he was born from her womb and formed by her voice and hands. And there's the peculiar thing: Rejet decided that the Sakamakis are Vampires by way of birth. They have never been humans. On top of that, they were raised in the demon world and only later introduced to human society. So the lack of meaning Kanato experiences and just forces upon Yui gets a whole different flavor.
The only way he can relate to her is by pain. From the perspective of Vampirric opposite human experience they don't share any experiences other than pain and its temporary relief. They both seem to need sleep, get hungry and have sexual needs and that's about it. So when I headcanon Kanato to lie in his BED and EAT and FUCK himself that's basically it, it's Kanato's experience of life and coping in a nutshell. The only thing that forces him to get out of that comfort zone is his Vampirism that forces him to get blood which tragically seems to need to be sucked from the source to satisfy. And surely biting people, drinking their blood and killing them for the little orgasm of death and peace akin to sleeping fulfills all his primal needs. Of course these are basically the same for all Vampires in DL, but Kanato seems to be the only one who seriously can't get over it to a point of mental instability. Look at Shu for example. He doesn't give a shit about his supposed eternal agony as a Vampire. He just sleeps, and when someone falls into his lap, he'll suck a bit and calls it a day. He surely has his issues too, but they are less connected to him being a Vampire. And for the other Boys, it seems to be similar. No wonder Kanato is a little goth, he's thinking way too much about his condition probably. @calystegiabit argued to me that he's probably big into Schopenhauer's pessimistic philosophy and I think that's absolutely on point. Kanato is so self aware in a way, it's no surprise the contrast between humanity and Vampirism irks him this much.
So much so, that he tends to dismiss Yui's expressions of discomfort almost as if he's offended by it. Her pain seems ridiculous to him. On top of that he insists that she likes the way his bite hurts her, as if it's nature beyond personal taste.
Her blood supposedly turns sweeter when she's in pain or when she's turned on, which is the same to him, because he's turned on and feels himself through her in a way. Because sucking her blood is nostalgic to him, he even says this explicitly and refers to her nostalgic scent multiple times. I will say it, you know it's coming, so just let us get it over with: of course controlling Yui, making her pliant, pleasing her and hurting her at the same time go a long way of adressing his mommy issues. Through Cordelia's heart, he can make memories she denied him when she was still alive. Only corrupted by an adult mind and multiplied according to his lustful, hungy Vampirric nature. Freud cackles in his grave at me admitting this, but the way Rejet wrote it leaves me no choice, I'd be blind if I wouldn't acknowledge that. So imagine Kanato was no Vampire.
What's left then?
One can always argue Vampires get thrown into things randomly because they sell, but in this case of Diabolik Lovers and Kanato specifically, I can only bow my head in gratitude. It's a franchise which knows its themes and finds various ways to make them meaningful, even goes its way to make decisions which are not the easiest to portray and still commit to them.
Kanato would probably be dead if he wasn't a Vampire, it's that simple. If he couldn't complete himself carnally to find peace momentarily or even find the hope of death at the hands of someone who dares to break his curse out of love for the final everlasting memory of dying, sleeping, - he'd have to cope like humans do.
And I don't think he can the way he is written. He'd just wither away or kill himself. But that's no end to a story I'm willing to accept. Humans strife and never get what they want anyway, say some. Others say it's not about the end anyway but the journey. If Kanato was human instead of a Vampire he would have to pay attention to the little things in life, the opportunities and moments of joy, since you need opportunities to get somwhere, wherever that may be in life, if it's only to survive, hopefully more. Kanato would have to learn to value his life, he could lose it after all. Since there's no all encompassing cathartic ritual like biting and sucking blood for humans, he would need to define his own. He kind of goes on that journey in my fanfiction, I decided to make him more human by showing him engaging in hobbies. He goes shopping, he makes art, he hasn't given up yet. I'm all about hope and healing. And the Kanato Rejet presents often seems kind of past the point of that being possible. So when they let him and Yui go places and talk about things they like, I felt that, and wanted to create a story in which he is more human and less creature. Not to defang him like Lunatic Parade did for example, but to pay attention to the nuances of Vampirism and the way it's important to his concept, but not everything at all. He's a sadistic monster and I love him for it, but he's more beyond that. So to adress that I made some headcanon changes to the way Vampirism works in my fanfiction. I won't get into the details since it's more interesting to show instead of tell. But I plan to be more conscious about it, since I want to show you some things about Kanato we haven't seen in canon yet, even though they are hinted at.
I think I will pepper in some more headcanons about Vamprism in DL and Kanato in later posts, it's inevitable really, but these are my basic thoughts.
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hiiiiii vampire au fuegoleon pwease thank you mwah
hehe yeas mwah
au ❧ vampire au
pairing ❧ fuegoleon vermillion x reader
"Can I get you anything?"
Fuegoleon sat up at his desk, seeing you standing in his doorway. You had a concerned look on your face, illuminated by candlelight. You were both just travelers, trapped together in this old house until a weeks long blizzard was over. Luckily, the inside was warm, and the two of you had grown close over this short time. But there was still something bothering you...
"I'm fine. Just writing in my journal." Fuegoleon gave you a smile, closing said journal.
You nodded slowly, but you weren't convinced. "If you say so..." You studied his face. "You look tired... do you need something to eat?"
Fuegoleon gulped, his smile falling as he shook his head. "Thanks for the offer, but-"
"I know, you're not hungry... you're never hungry." Your eyes narrowed suspiciously. "I don't think I've seen you eat a thing since we've been here. I haven't seen you sleep, either."
Your words finally elicited a response. Fuegoleon's smile faded, and he became visibly tense. I knew something was up, you thought, gulping nervously as you took a step further into the room. "If there's something wrong, or if you're sick, I can help! I want to help-"
Before you knew what was happening, Fuegoleon had risen from his seat, making his way to you in less than a second. The superhuman speed shocked you, and you found yourselves face to face in the doorway, his arms caging you in. You blinked slowly, looking up into his eyes, which held a mix of worry, anger, and... sadness?
"Trust me..." he breathed, his eyes narrowing. His gaze darted over your skin, lingering on your neck for a second longer. "... you don't want to help me..." The pained look slowly grew back on his face. "I... I don't want to hurt you. I know it hasn't been long, but I've grown very fond of you... fonder than monster like me deserves."
"...a monster?" you asked, your gaze moving to his lips. Fuegoleon licked them once, but that was enough; you saw the glint of fangs within his mouth. For a moment, you froze, unable to comprehend what you were seeing, but then everything made sense. "You're suffering... Fuegoleon, I can't let that happen-"
Fuegoleon furrowed his brow. "I told you, I-"
"I don't care if you're a monster! Or- a vampire?" Fuegoleon nodded solemnly. "You're my friend... well, more than a friend. You see, I've grown very fond of you as well!" you confessed. "Please, Fuegoleon, I don't want you to suffer any more... let me help you. In whatever way I can."
He looked conflicted for a moment, but his eyes widened as you reached up to hold his face.
"I trust you. Completely."
Your lips hit his a moment later, and Fuegoleon finally reciprocated, pulling you close in an exceedingly gentle embrace.
Maybe... maybe I don't have to be alone anymore.
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