Title: Vampire Knight
Author: Matsuri Hino (Story & Art)
Genres: Shoujo, School Life, Romance, Supernatural, Tragedy, Drama
Published: 2004 – 2013 (Complete)
Japanese Publisher: LaLa (original run); Hakusensha (tankobon format)
English Publisher: Shoujo Beat (original run); Viz Media (tankobon format)
Available to Purchase in English?: Yes (Amazon / Indigo / Barnes & Noble)
[Note: This post contains mild spoilers]
I remember coming across the Vampire Knight anime after it had just been released, before the series became super popular in the West. I wasn’t a huge fan of anything to do with vampires (and continue to have little interest in them to this day), but it was a new show so I decided to give it a try.
Vampire Knight is about a highschool girl named Yuuki Cross. She attends Cross Academy, where her adopted father Kaien is the school’s headmaster. She attends classes during the day, but helps patrol the school grounds during the night as a school guardian alongside her classmate Zero Kiryuu. Yuuki and Zero have been friends since Zero was brought to live with her and her father several years prior to the start of the story; it is later revealed he was bitten by a pureblood vampire during an attack which killed his entire family, and is himself a vampire.
However, Cross Academy has a big secret. While students who attend classes during the day are known as members of the Day Class, the Night Class students are sequestered in a separate dormitory because they are… dun dun dun… vampires! Aside from their late afternoon walk from their dorm to the main campus for their classes (where, as members of the school’s Disciplinary Committee, Zero and Yuuki have to physically keep the rest of their classmates at bay), the Night Class students are never seen mingling with the rest of the student body. The Night Class students are all also extraordinarily beautiful, simultaneously fueling the Day Class’ overexuberant reactions and fulfilling this manga’s bishounen & bishoujo quota.
As the story progresses, it becomes evident that much information is being kept from Yuuki. The recurring dream she has where a young Kaname saves her from a rabid vampire, the story behind Zero’s transformation into a vampire, Yuuki’s family history, and even a big secret about Yuuki herself – these things are all eventually brought into the light (pun intended), where Yuuki must confront them and decide if these challenges will change who she is.
Vampire Knight started as a manga, and later two seasons of anime, two drama CDs and three light novels were created. An official fanbook titled “Vampire Knight Fanbook: Cross”, an artbook, and a Japanese dating sim game called “Vampire Knight DS” have also been released. If you decide to watch the anime, please note that it has an alternate ending as the show was created while the manga was still ongoing.
I was initially drawn to this manga because of the characters. Yuuki is the spunky, occasionally clueless lead, while Zero and Kaname are her romantic interests. Zero appears to be cold and distant, but he has secrets of his own, secrets he can’t bring himself to share with Yuuki. Kaname is the main object of Yuuki’s affections, and he appears to reciprocate her feelings. But when his ties to Yuuki are revealed, will their relationship change… or become something greater?
The relationships between these three are what kept me reading on, even after the plot started to drag and I felt like events were getting repetitive. However I feel like I should point out that my decline in interest is not necessarily reflective of the series itself, as I already mentioned that vampires are not supremely interesting to me. I did eventually end up dropping the series around two-thirds of the way through, but made sure to read the ending of the manga once it became available. Yeah I know, slightly hypocritical of me, but hey after so many years I wanted to know how it ended. What can I say? *shrug*
The artwork of this series is pretty stellar, with most if not all of the characters having the large, sparkly eyes characteristic of a true blue shoujo manga. Vampires and other supernatural creatures often evoke feelings of sexuality, eroticism and mysteriousness, and if you peruse the art from this series you can see that Hino-san definitely channeled some of those characteristics into her work.
The love triangle between Yuuki, Zero and Kaname is what kept drawing me back into the series, although in later years I became more critical of the relationship between Yuuki and Kaname. (The series’ ending somewhat negates much of this criticism, but the dynamics of their relationship earlier in the series was often frustrating to read.) The final nail in the coffin for me (woo, I’m just rolling out the vampire puns today!) was the repetitive and sometimes boring plot. I feel like this series could have been a lot shorter than it was, and in exchange been much more memorable.
My Score: 7.5/10
Do I Recommend This Title?: If you are a fan of vampires and want to read what all the fuss is about, then yes. If you’re like me and you can give or take when it comes to supernatural series about vampires, then I feel like you could skip this manga and not miss too much.