A young woman named Missi, against better judgement, takes shelter in a mysterious mansion in the middle of the night. She uses the peace and quiet to catch up on studies, only for it to turn out that she’s not alone! The vampiric lord of the mansion, Duke, introduces himself in suitably spooky fashion, threatening to either suck her blood or get into her pants. It’s kind of hard to tell. Vampires, yanno? What follows is a frantic chase through the mansion as Missi tries to escape with her life as Duke toys with her. The chase finally ends with her taking advantage of the vampire lord's own libido to lure him into a beam of sunlight, reducing him to ash after hitting him with his own cane. Unfortunately, the cane that saved Missi’s very life also imbues her with a curse, transforming her into a vampiric alter ego so long as she’s holding it. What follows is a spiraling cat and mouse competition between the two as the vampires try to beat each other at their own game.
The Vampair is a series of music videos created by Daria Cohen, and wow are they a fun ride! Each video is an individual entry in an ongoing storyline, but is animated to its own song. The songs are not made specifically for the videos but instead are copyrighted songs by popular artists such as Voltaire and Lily Allen. This is no doubt a big draw for the series as the well known music attracts individuals who wouldn’t otherwise be looking for animations to watch. At the time of my writing this, the show has six fully animated entries, totalling up to 17 minutes and 39 seconds of animation. In addition to this though, there are also a few cancelled animatics and relevant speedpaints on the channel that help fill out the story more if you're willing to go through them.
While the music in this show adds to its flair and aesthetic, I wouldn’t say it’s The Vampair’s strongest feature. Daria Cohen is an alumna from the Shenkar School of Design and Engineering, and the first video in the series, The Night, was actually her graduation film! As a result the animation seen in The Night has a professional polish that is rarely seen anywhere else on YouTube, and that skill is carried through the rest of the videos. Daria’s understanding of weight, color, character design and rhythm stands out and makes the videos an absolute blast to just look at, even if you don’t care to figure out what’s actually going on in the plot or with the characters.
Not that the plot is bad either! It is admittedly hard to make a storyline, especially a complex one, out of disparate songs. Many of these songs are from different artists who have never met or collaborated with each other. Even if Cohen had gotten all of the songs from one artist, songs in an album are only rarely meant to form a cohesive storyline. As a result The Vampair has to carefully pick and choose what songs it uses for the story beats and adapt different parts of them to the videos to try and make the story work. Even then though, there’s a lot that’s hard to do. For example, the only way you can even figure out the characters' names in this show is if you’re either reading the video descriptions or if you’re looking out for blink-and-you’ll miss-it environmental cues. So I wouldn’t go into this expecting any particular depth of narrative- it’s mostly a comedic romp with really fun animation.
That being said, what story is there is very well represented by the show's art styles. Each music video in the series provides its own unique story arc with a mood and plot that fits the song in question. For example, Zombie Prostitute is… well, a pretty silly adventure featuring Duke and the titular red light wraith. It features a great deal of slapstick comedy both in the animation and directly from the song’s lyrics. The video is colorful, frantic, and fun. On the other hand, The Silent has a much different mood, showing Missi’s not so slow descent into madness and her disgust with it. In comparison with Duke’s videos (such as Land of the Dead and Zombie Prostitute), The Silent has stark black and white art devolving into sketchiness in places to visually represent Missi’s unravelling psyche. The variance in art style really helps set the mood of the videos and the character’s emotions, helping to carry the plot where spoken explanations are impossible.
I find this story appealing for the characters too. Lets be real, everyone’s favorite part of a musical? Is the villain songs. They’re always the catchiest, the flashiest, and the ones with the least restraint in their presentation because hey, they’re villains. Why would they ever worry about blowing the budget? Considering that the quarreling characters in The Vampair are both mustache twirling vampires however, that means pretty much every. Single. Video. In this series is a villain number, and that is entertaining in a delightfully indulgent way. Even if one person gets the upper hand, you can rest easy knowing that the other person deserved it on some level. It’s like watching Tom and Jerry; they can both get beat up but it’s fine because they’re both jerks. And they’re jerks with a sense of style. (Though to be fair, it's usually Missi that has the upper hand here.) That’s a good choice to make in a series made entirely of music videos, in my opinion. It gives Cohen the opportunity to really let loose with character animation, to make it as big and dramatic as possible, because hey. Villains.
Not to mention despite not being able to get too complicated with it, the story Cohen is telling here does come together really well. Each video gives you a complete section of story and a little bit extra to keep you watching. For example at the end of the first video, when Missi transforms into a vampire, I remembered thinking “Oh, THAT’S interesting. Was she pretending to be human all along just to trick Duke? Or is there something else going on here?” These questions are slowly answered throughout the videos, building up the lore and relationship between the characters, but with some more fun sections to keep things lighthearted. I don’t want to spoil too much, but as it stands, it looks like things are heading toward a final showdown between the two, which I personally cannot wait to see. No doubt it’ll involve a giant song and dance number, with a particularly catchy song to boot.
It’s looking like we’ll get to see the next section of the story soon as well. Cohen clearly has some great work ethic, as these videos have been coming out every couple of months since the show’s inception in 2016. As it stands, the series is definitely still active, and getting better all the time. The original video The Night is fantastic, but when you compare it to The Silent, it’s clear that the animator is improving all the time. If you love yourself some dang good vampires and some dang good music, The Vampair series is definitely for you.
Audience: Adults. Despite the fun appearance and lack of gore or any overt sexual content, this definitely isn’t one for children. One of the songs used literally has a swear word in the name, and another is about prostitution. Steer the kids elsewhere for this!
Inclusion: C+. Not a lot of room for a diverse cast here. Frankly, it’s about as good as it can get with only two characters. It’s hard to include many groups of people when you’ve got so little to work with. Seeing as the show is made up entirely of music videos however, there’s not a lot of room to tell a particularly complex story anyway, so attempts to do otherwise probably wouldn’t be too nuanced. That being said, Missi’s character is surprisingly deep and conflicted for an otherwise silly story, especially as shown in the The Silent. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with her!
Best Quality: The animation, definitely. Daria Cohen is classically trained in animation so everything from the actual keyframing to the choice of colors is professionally planned and executed. The quality of animation is on par if not better than anything you’d see on TV right now. The characters movements are timed so well, and the art style is truly charming. The Vampair series really is a treat for the eyes!
Favorite Character: Missi, definitely! It’s really cool watching a character have a complex personality and conflicts despite not technically having any lines. Granted she has plenty of musical numbers, but those are preexisting songs and aren’t technically written for the story, so you have to get some context clues from the visuals of the videos. Its interesting to watch her waver between using the vampire staff to get back at Duke because of all the powers it grants her, but also being terrified of herself when she uses it and struggling with the fact that its slowly driving her insane. It really makes the viewer want to see what comes next to see if she’ll lose herself completely or overcome its power.