Vermeil in Gold is a nice little anime about a 600-year old demoness who falls in love with a freshman high school boy, whereupon she proceeds to suck his face—and everything else—off as often as possible all while they learn about each other and the child gets stronger and they fight cliche bad guys, and, and, and…. Please don’t be […]
Vermeil in Gold is a nice little anime about a 600-year old demoness who falls in love with a freshman high school boy, whereupon she proceeds to suck his face—and everything else—off as often as possible all while they learn about each other and the child gets stronger and they fight cliche bad guys, and, and, and….
Please don’t be offended by what follows. As I will point out later, this show is easy to poke fun at. I will therefore take easy aim at the multitude of easy targets this show offers and attempt to write humorously about them. I don’t wish to rain on anybody’s feelings about this show. So with that in mind, read this review for the humor rather than for the criticism, which, while present, is meant lightly in this case. And as always, spoilers follow, so proceed no further if you haven’t seen the show. And, as is sometimes the case, be advised that some mature content follows as well.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Vermeil must get into the gold thing later on in this manga, because through one season of the anime there is no gold.
Maybe it’s her gold aura that it refers to. As a demoness in anime, she has one of those liquid light aura thingies that surrounds her whenever she gets hella pissed that her boy lover is in danger. Said boy lover has a gold aura too because he’s special—he gets the infamous demon’s gold aura too! Except eventually it turns to silver, or platinum, or something or other that isn’t gold.
Maybe the gold thing refers to the boy lover’s gold eyes. Maybe she’s “in” them somehow. Given much of the trappings of this show and Vermeil herself, I’m not sure I want to explore the meaning of this word here, because vulgarity has its place, which is not here today.
We see Vermeil in this weird gold stringy form in the ED, so maybe that has something to do with it. What I don’t know, and cannot surmise.
Vermeil is the 600-year old demoness. You know what this means. Tall, lithe, curvaceous, beautiful, massive. The common speech term is “thicc.” I’ll leave it at that, seeing as this is not a technical term but the general image is understood nonetheless. And she wears that sweater thing you see every now and then, that sexy onesie sweater that mature women of the aforementioned anatomical description wear that make men do things men ought not always do and go places they ought not always go. No back, cut off right below the danger zone and right above the safe zone, tight fitting all over, and stretched to its limit the higher you go.
Because Vermeil is…voluptuous. At 600 years old she looks pretty good. This matronly female has become the familiar of struggling magic student Alto Goldfield (gold again). More on that in a minute, don’t worry. You guessed it. She’s the world’s most dangerous supercreature, and dear, diminutive, failing Alto manages to summon her as his familiar. Thereupon she falls madly, wildly in love with him. But of course Hawk; that’s how it is in anime. And you guessed it, she derives the dreaded “mana” from her master, the diminutive but obviously lovable Alto, and, you guessed it, this mana is extracted by intense—intense—physical contact and exchanges.
You thought it was bad in High School DxD. Vermeil makes Major Katsuragi from NGE look like a saint. I lost count of how many times she’d drug Alto off behind some secretive corner and sucked on his face like he was the last man alive. She’s head and shoulders taller than him, and probably outweighs him by double, a sad but cringingly true reality, and yet here she is, falling deeper and deeper in love with this child with every drop of bodily fluids exchanged.
And then they had sex. The end. Except it wasn’t the end. They had a lot of sex. Oh he protested. “We can’t do this!” “We can’t do this here!” They had a lot of sex. We never saw the sex, not in any form or fashion. We didn’t approach the divide to the thing that shall not be named. But we saw the skin, the lack of clothing, the absence of clothing. We saw the crushing. I say crushing because Alto doubtless would’ve had trouble breathing under that mass, and that mass itself was being crushed in another way as well. Crush she did though, nevertheless.
You know what? It is what it is. They love each other. Alto seems like a mature enough dude, and he is her “master” after all. Let them fall in love and fall all over each other and be late to class because they…you know. Some little boys dream of this kind of thing. It smells like the thing that shall not be named, but that’s ecchi anime. This show isn’t the visible-boobs kind of ecchi, but it’s close enough. It’s ecchi anime. You either like it or hate it. Occasionally it looks like this.
All that aside: I like Vermeil. She’s nicely designed if a little typical. She’s pretty, her hair is everywhere and kinda fun. Her red eyes are a typical demon thing but work really well for her look. Maaya Uchida (Rikka, Love, Chuunibyou, & Other Delusions; Katarina, My Next Life asa Villainess) does a really good job with Vermeil’s matronly, sensual, kind of carefree voice. The whole package is really easy to like, not too complicated, but sweet and fun and all that good stuff we want in a character like this.
Alto is tiny. But there’s lots of potential in him. Wait, haven’t we seen this story before? That’s Alto’s story. Any of them you envision. He has to summon a familiar or he can’t move on to his second year of high school. High magic school? Magic high school? High school magic? Magic school high? Word order is important, at least in English. Anyway, he is of course inept and will be held back if he doesn’t figure it out. And out pops Vermeil, everyone is happy, especially Vermeil and Alto, the end.
At least he’s not a dork like the guy in HS DxD. He’s overly effusive, and says sappy things with a straight face that embarrass all the sane human beings (and demons) around him, but at least he’s genuine. He’s not out looking for a pair to rest his head and whatever else in between, though get it he does. He’s not out to touch ‘em all like Denji in Chainsaw Man. He seems appropriately reserved but willing about the sexual situation with Vermeil. So he’s the plain vanilla diminutive shounen protagonist version, more focused on school and learning than about the overwhelming amount of skin being literally pressed upon him. How dutiful of him. So I can’t criticize him too much, even if I can criticize the writers for creating such a painfully ordinary creature as a main character.
Then there are the supporting characters. Alto has some buddies believe it or not. They’re sad he’s going to have to skip a year because he’s a loser who can’t summon even a dead leaf as a familiar. Especially Lilia, the same childhood friend every loser shounen protagonist has. She’s wildly in love with Alto too. Why I don’t know. At least she’s more his size. Anyway, I say wildly in love, but angrily is probably more apt, as she is a crazed tsundere, yelling and bitching and generally being overbearing in her outward denial of her undeniable feelings. She’s really annoying. Anyway, Vermeil puts her in her proper place, the trash can, once she arrives. I’m kidding, Lilia is a decent person, but is noisy and overbearing in her tsundereness, and tries to act tough around Vermeil since she views her as competition, which of course she is. It’s old and annoying.
There is a rhinoceros beetle. It’s a named and VA-credited character. Its name is Francois. It has a VA. I said that.
There is a student council. Its members are snobby, overbearing, strong, and their place in the hierarchy of society is slightly above Emperor of the Sea. Haven’t we seen this story before? It’s okay, but we have seen it before. The boys on the council are irrelevant. In the face of the boyish Chris (me likey likey, though she’s a little overbearing) and the tall and powerful Jessica (she beats up Alto a handful of times), of course these human males are irrelevant. Then there’s the empress, sorry, the student council president, herself, Elena. If any of you have seen The Eminence in Shadow (which you should) then you’ll recognize almost exactly the same character here in Elena as Alexia Midgar in The Eminence in Shadow, which mostly is due to Kana Hanazawa, who does a great job with these haughty voiced girls. And the white hair.
There are also villains. One gets his face smashed. No, not like how Vermeil smashes Alto. Really smashed. At least one get really smashed. It seems “smash” has a lot of meanings, as I now realize. Anyway, one they let walk away harmlessly and for no reason. All of them are ordinary. The one, Iolite, who gets to walk away unsmashed (poor guy), even admits he’s a cliche villain, which at least shows that the author is aware, but nevertheless.
We have the sad interlude in Vermeil’s past and her childhood “family.” Sayaka Ohara, the VA for my dearest Erza Scarlet (Fairy Tail) plays the nun, simply named “Sister” for the purposes of this show. She’s only in one episode, then bad things that made me angry happen, which was a little weird given the tenor of this show otherwise, but more on that later. So Sister and the few others in this brief interlude come and go quickly, playing a big but little part in this show.
So basically there’s Vermeil (smashing Alto) and then everybody else. This show should have been titled Vermeil Smashes Alto and we all would’ve been less mystified by the title, and would’ve gotten a knowing chuckle or two out of it too. Because, at least character-wise, that’s all that really happens in this show. The characters are cookie-cutter, even Vermeil a little, all serving this odd romance story that takes place amidst them all. They’re not bad characters, just very ordinary, and on the low side of ordinary at that. Ordinary can be done well, and I’ve written about such shows in the past, but this was ordinary-minus as opposed to just ordinary or ordinary-plus. I chuckled at Vermeil and her behavior occasionally, but otherwise found the characters very unimpactful. Smashing notwithstanding; pardon my attempt to confuse my British readers.
The artwork is the highlight of this anime. It’s not spectacular, but is very eye catching. And for more reasons than Vermeil’s form.
Vermeil is the highlight within this highlight however. I’m sold on her purple theme. It goes very well with her red eyes and matronly rouged lips. She’s big and solid and soft and curvy and pretty. Her eyes are really well done. I’m a sucker for red eyes, and hers are particularly nice. She’s really pretty.
Alto, believe it or not, is decent visually as well. The gold eye thing works for him. I don’t know why he has white hair, but we never know that in anime. I guess the same could be said of Vermeil’s purple hair, or Lilia’s pink hair. Anime and hair color: we love it. Anyway, the gold thing is striking, partly I guess because of the enigmatic title of the show, but nevertheless his gold eyes are nicely done.
The artwork has a very filtered-light appearance. I’m not really sure how to describe this other than to go back to the gold thing and say everything feels like it’s coated in a golden radiance. Indoor scenes sometimes feel like they’re candlelit, and outdoor daytime scenes are heavily sun-splashed. Even nighttime or dark scenes have an aura or radiance about them. It’s a curious effect, and one I laud, even if I’m not sure why it’s done so. It gives the artwork a unique feel, making it one of the only unique things, feeling or otherwise, in this show. So I’ll give the artists credit for that.
The environment around the school is peculiar as well. Most magic schools in anime look like stone block, old buildings, and while we still have that here, we have these odd, wispy pillars stretching into the sky here and there around the school grounds. I forget what these were or even if their purpose was discovered to us, but their presence always caught my eye and made me acknowledge that this was an attempt to make something unique with this school campus.
The animation was pretty ordinary, certainly nothing spectacular. But there wasn’t anything wrong with it that I could detect either. There were several fight scenes were action animation was necessary, and these felt acceptable. Facial features were nicely manipulated, nothing out of the ordinary. Shadowing was nicely used, usually in a very typical way, but at times it was used nicely to change the aspect of Vermeil’s face, enhancing her demon qualities a little bit. Vermeil has a little bit of a serpentine appearance, intentionally or otherwise, and occasionally shadowing enhanced this effect a little.
So the artwork is nothing spectacular for sure, but it’s good quality and has some unique touches. It’s detailed and pretty, and clearly some care was put into it whereas care and concern seemed to be thrown out the window in certain other areas. This show is visually nice to watch, and certainly the visuals are the highlight of the series.
So this is a story of a 600-year old demoness who falls in love with a freshman high school boy, whereupon she proceeds to….
I sat and thought about the story in this show. I thought about it because I wanted to believe there was more to this story than a mature woman and her shouta doing their thing. I wanted to believe this because it feels like there should be more to the story than this weird romance.
It feels like that because Vermeil’s arrival sets events in motion. This isn’t an unusual storytelling device—quite the contrary, it’s very ordinary, like much in this show. But it made me feel like Vermeil might be at the center of something that might have some import, even if it was in a trite storytelling way. Maybe that will be the case, eventually.
It feels like that because of things like Vermeil saving Alto’s life by attaching her own life to his own. “If I die you die, if you die I die.” We’ve seen that a lot before, and it’s usually a little trite, but it felt like more than just a trite addition to the story here. It was probably supposed to be a little sad and certainly heartfelt. It certainly felt out of place, thus making me wonder if I should be taking this story more seriously than I was.
It feels like that because the story attempted to develop Vermeil’s character more than I expected of an ecchi show like this. Do we really care much about how Rias Gremory became Rias Gremory? Or how Hakufu Sonsaku in Ikkitousen came to inherit such a birthright as is hers? Is it really important that we know the details of what motivates Leina in Queen’s Blade? Even if any of that’s shown to us, it’s in passing, and in a way that doesn’t ellicit much concern from audiences. It’s just kind of there, and its presence might even be unintentionally more humorous than anything, considering the ludicrousness of the show otherwise.
Yet here in Vermeil in Gold we get a brief look back into Vermeil’s past that seeks to explain why she’s called the “strongest scourge” or whatever it is. That flashback is complete with a Ghost of Christmas Past character, a predictably busty woman named Fatima, who is said to be the mage who locked Vermeil in the book Alto frees her from in the beginning of the show. Fatima wants to explain to Alto why Vermeil is as she is and why she locked her in the book in the first place. Whereupon we visit the past in Vermeil’s mind and see this awful set of memories from Vermeil’s childhood, where she sees all the poor innocent people in her life, her “family,” hanged by an angry mob who have discovered she’s a demon and blame her for the passing plague in their town. Hence Vermeil destroys the town and its inhabitant in a demonic rage. She regrets it afterward and after some time entreats the mage Fatima to seal her away in the book until some appropriately later time.
This was a very shocking and upsetting interlude on what was mostly a wild ecchi show up to this point. It made me very angry watching it, and I wanted Vermeil to wipe that town off the face of the Earth. This was in stark contrast to my feelings during the rest of the show, which sat right on the edge of laughter at the ridiculousness of it all and Vermeil’s wild behavior towards Alto. To top that all off, there’s the story element of Vermeil choosing to be placed into the book until someone releases her, presumably through a kind of fated encounter. Lucky Alto. So we’re right back into the absurd, nearly comical, just as rapidly as we left it for this brief brush with angry vengeance.
Far be it from me to say that comedy, of any kind, should exclude sudden and unexpected sad or otherwise intense emotional moments. But this hardly seemed like the show for an interlude like this. Even if one says this isn’t a comedy, it’s at least very lighthearted, not serious in the slightest. Ecchi isn’t serious. It can’t be. Ever seen an ecchi version of Romeo and Juliet? Not unless it’s a spoof or a farce, which makes my point. Even the ones I mentioned above like Queen’s Blade and Ikkitousen, which are serious in the sense that they’re battle or action anime, aren’t serious like Berserk or Neon Genesis Evangelion. Their seriousness is almost funny in and of itself, and completely because they’re ecchi.
Hawk, this show isn’t ecchi like those boob shows. You said that yourself earlier. Yes, nor is it ecchi like the Monogatari series or Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid or even Fairy Tail, where the ecchi is present but not central to the work itself. And while the ecchi is central to this tale, it’s just not as intense—intense—as in those boob shows. So Monogatari and Fairy Tail can become serious and still be taken seriously for it. Queen’s Blade can’t be.
Hence the sudden seriousness, and the intensity of that seriousness, took me by surprise in this show. It made me think perhaps this show wasn’t all just about the wild romance and the ecchi elements. It made me think perhaps I’d given this show too little credit for what it was trying to become. That there was more to the telling of this story than simply a grown ass demon woman falling in love with her shouta human master.
Whatever the author of the manga and the writers of this anime were aiming for, in the end I couldn’t see this show as anything more than a tale of whacky romance between an adult and a child. I get it. I get it that it’s anime and we see this thing from time to time and it’s still weird and it’s supposed to be and all that, but that’s what this show is nevertheless, and I think that’s all it is. I think, in the end, this is a story of a 600-year old demoness who falls in love with a freshman high school boy, whereupon she proceeds to….
I wanted to think well of this show. I wanted to feel the pain of Vermeil’s past and the happiness of her present. I wanted to see Alto as a blossoming hero despite his typicalness. I wanted to see the roles of the supporting characters and enjoy their various personalities. But for all the effort I made in this regard, I came away from this show with one impression: 600-year old demoness, high school boy, face sucking, smash.
Even the effort is a testament to how strong this impression was. Many parts of this show felt like they were trying to make a legitimate anime out of this display, to the point that I felt like I had to look deeper into everything and try and think through it all and find something in it all. Yet despite it all I can come to no other conclusion about this show.
Perhaps this is just a personal thing too. Perhaps I give too much weight to the ridiculous and ecchi parts, where if I had overlooked them I would see more to this story and these characters, and might think differently about this show overall. Some of you reading up to this point might be very annoyed that I seem to be slighting this show so badly. I can understand that. Perhaps the glare of the crazy in this show is less blinding to you than me, which is fine, as I’m not making a moral judgement or anything like that about this show. Perhaps you therefore see the fun side of the show more, or perhaps even the sympathetic side with Vermeil and her story and Alto’s sudden appearance in her life and all that means for him, etc.
If that’s how you see this show, that is good, and I would be forced to admit my view is simply a personal one. I would be very happy if that were the case. I never want to rain on anyone’s enjoyment of a show. I hope you will see my writing here on this anime as much more humorous rather than scathing. Sometimes it can be fun to poke fun at easy targets in the critic’s business, and this was an easy one no matter how you look at it!
So let me end on a personal note. Despite how much it seems like I’ve ragged on this show, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. I get it about the high school boy thing. I can reason it away enough in this case, and it has a certain edginess that gives a peculiar flavor to this show. Vermeil herself is fun to watch. The ridiculousness of most ecchi has its own appeal in a way too, as we can laugh at the various elements that appear very typical except for the boobery placed among them. And I always say there is ecchi and there is ecchi, and for all the things I can make fun of here, this show at least is on the better side of that equation. So I liked it well enough despite it all. I will hardly poke fun at a show in the way I have done here if I didn’t like something about it. Go see a review of mine of a show I really didn’t like. Then you’ll see some real seriousness placed in amongst humor.
The good news for this show is that there likely will be subsequent seasons at some point. I think people were surprised by this show and so made it successful, and obviously the story can develop further given the concluding events of S1. So perhaps we have not seen the last of the smooch-crazed Vermeil. Hey, maybe Alto will be closer to her size the next time we see him. He is a growing boy after all.
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