Nightwalker: The Midnight Detective (ナイトウォーカー真夜中の探偵 Naito Uōkā Mayonaka no Tantei?) is a late night anime TV series created by Ayana Itsuki that is adapted from a PC game titled Mayonaka no Tantei Night Walker (真夜中の探偵 Night Walker?).
Nightwalker incorporates elements of the horror, detective story and vampire genres, and is critically noted as a vampire story "with a bit of a twist". The main character is Shido, a vampire who protects humans from other supernatural creatures. A private investigator by day and a demon hunter by night, Shido solves murder cases caused by monsters called nightbreeds.
One oddity of the series is that the character designs for the first four episodes are different from the main character designs used for the rest of the series and both the opening and ending.
In the world of Nightwalker, attacks by the nightbreed (ナイトブリード?), minor demons that possess humans and feed on their souls, are relatively common. As a group, nightbreeds (often referred to by the abbreviation 'breed') are usually self-serving and of low intelligence, and they drive a human host to commit crimes. Because these breed-inspired crimes are often difficult to identify, a special agency known as the N.O.S. has been organized to investigate and solve breed-related cases.
Shido, the main character of the series, is a vampire who decided to defend humans against his demonic brethren as atonement for the sins he committed early in his vampiric life. He knows little of his life prior to becoming a vampire, and even his name is a pseudonym he took when he arrived in Japan. Upon settling down in Japan, Shido established a one-man (plus one-secretary) private investigator office, which he uses as a means to hunt breeds while keeping his true nature secret. Shido even keeps his identity secret from Riho, a teenage girl he decided to employ as a secretary after her parents were killed in a breed attack.
All is not business as usual at Shido's office, however, as Shido is soon forced to reveal to Riho that he is the same sort of creature that killed her parents. Furthermore, Shido's powerful and obsessive sire, Cain, has plans in motion to reclaim Shido, as well as to initiate the 'Golden Dawn', a secret with far-reaching implications for all creatures of the night.
The main character, Tatsuhiko Shido (Voiced by: Takumi Yamazaki (Japanese), Richard Cansino (English)) is a private detective. He is also a vampire with the ability to manipulate his own blood to form weapons. Shido has an outwardly mercurial personality, but beneath that, he is very serious and dedicated – so much so that he is likely to blame himself when something goes wrong. He is often employed by Yayoi Matsunaga (Voiced by: Emi Shinohara (Japanese), Mari Devon (English)), an agent with the N.O.S. anti-nightbreed crime unit. Yayoi pays Shido with her blood in exchange for his expertise in investigating nightbreeds, and their relationship goes beyond being strictly professional.
The other members of Shido's group are Riho Yamazaki (Voiced by: Maaya Sakamoto (Japanese), Dorothy Elias-Fahn (English)), a high-school-aged girl whose family was murdered by nightbreeds, and Guni (Voiced by: Ikue Otani (Japanese), Sandy Fox (English)), a small, fairy-like creature. Riho idolizes Shido and works as his secretary, but is initially unaware of that he is a vampire. She learns Shido's secret while attempting to help him with an investigation, but decides to continue working for him despite it. Guni's relationship with Shido is like that of a familiar spirit, but she only assists him if she feels like it. She often irritates the others, especially Riho, with biting remarks.
While Shido and company confront many nightbreeds from episode to episode, the main antagonist of the series is the powerful vampire Cain (Voiced by: Hideyuki Tanaka (Japanese), Lex Lang (English)). Cain transformed Shido into a vampire long before the main events of the series. He and Shido once lived together in Transylvania, where they fed on countless innocent people. Over time Cain's cruelty drove Shido to leave him, though Cain refuses to let him go.
The soundtrack for the Nightwalker anime, composed by Akifumi Tada, is noted for its jazz themes and prominent use of saxophones. The soundtrack also features Gessekai (月世界?) by BUCK-TICK as the opening theme, and Mirai Kōro (未来航路?) by La'cryma Christi as the closing theme. Gessekai is unusual in that it was not a purpose-written tie-in song, but was selected from BUCK-TICK's existing body of work. An official soundtrack was released in Japan on October 14, 1998 by Universal Music Japan.
Nightwalker has 12 episodes, all of them divided as "nights":
- 1. A Visitor in the Night (闇を来る者?)
- 2. The Terms of Stardom (女優の条件?)
- 3. A Man on the Run (逃げる男?)
- 4. The Golden Dawn (黄金の夜明け?)
- 5. Medicine for the Dead (死者の薬?)
- 6. The Bottom of a Well (井戸の底?)
- 7. A Mother and her Child (母と息子?)
- 8. A Lost Soul in the Night (夜歩く者?)
- 9. Someone Else's Face (他人の顔?)
- 10. Tears of an Angel (天使の涙?)
- 11. A Witch in the Forest (森の魔女?)
- 12. Eternal Darkness (永遠の闇?)
PC Game: Mayonaka no Tantei Night Walker
The source material for the anime came from Mayonaka no Tantei Night Walker (真夜中の探偵 Night Walker?), a 16-color PC eroge released in 1993. Night Walker is an adventure game, focused mostly on character interaction and problem solving. While the main characters of this game have the same names and similar appearances to their anime equivalents, their personalities are generally more easy-going and their backgrounds are less tragic (they all have living relatives). In comparison to the anime, the game is fairly lighthearted, with Shidō and Guni providing comic relief.
In 2001 the developer Arieroof remade this game for Windows 2000 under the title Night Walker. This version uses the same source drawings as the original game, except with 256-color displays, and plays similarly. The characters are recolored, and match the anime more closely. (Shidō's hair is purple, Guni's body is green. Inexplicably, Yayoi's hair is bubblegum pink.)
- Tatsuhiko Shidō
- A quarter-vampire (one of his grandfathers was a full-blood vampire, and the rest of his family line is of Japanese descent), Shidō has inherited guardianship of the passage between the mortal world and the demon world, but otherwise he lives as a human. His 'day job' is private investigator, and he works closely with the Kanagawa police. Through this connection, he learns that a girl he was unable to save from nightbreeds was a student at St. Michael Girls Academy, and goes to the school to investigate. He is quite pleased about this because he is something of a pervert, and takes plenty of time out to ogle the teenage girls.
- Riho Yamazaki
- A high school student at St. Michael Academy, she shared a dorm room with Miyako, the girl murdered by nightbreeds. (Incidentally, Riho is not a possible sexual partner for Shidō.) Normally cheerful and energetic, Riho is shocked and depressed by her friend's murder. When Shidō comes to her for help, she vows to avenge her friend and helps Shidō unravel the conspiracy based out of the school. Shidō drinks Riho's blood in the finalé of the game, and while she does not become a vampire, she is no longer fully human.
- Originally, Night Walker was planned to have Rihoko Ayukawa, a character from a previous TomBoy game called Bishōjo Audition, in the role of heroine. As the project evolved, Rihoko became Riho.
- Yayoi Matsunaga
- She is a detective with the Kanagawa Police (the N.O.S. does not exist in the game). Hot-headed and frustrated both with her career and her love-life, she tends to be short tempered. Yayoi comes from a police family, and her father, the chief of the Yokohama police, worked closely with Shidō's vampiric relatives. As much as Yayoi resents it, she seems to be destined for the same role. She and Shidō dated prior to the game, but the relationship fell apart. Now they spend most of their time together bickering, and Shidō loves to tease her. Yet, there's still a bit of a spark between them…
- Shidō's familiar, an earth-spirit who inhabits Shidō's ear. Though Guni appears female (and is referred to as a 'she',) she is actually sexless. Guni ignores Shidō's commands more often than not, but she does really care about him. She styles herself a know-it-all, but usually mispronounces whatever she's trying to explain.
- ↑ Satoshi TODOME. "A History of Eroge". Retrieved 2010-04-23.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Maria M. Rider. "Night Walker Volume 1". Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
- ↑ Carlos Ross. "THEM Anime Reviews 4.0 - Nightwalker". THEM Anime. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
- ↑ "NightWalker -Midnight Detective- Original Soundtrack". VGMdb 0.15. Retrieved 2010-04-23.