Title: Vampire Knight, vol. 1
Author: Matsuri Hino
Publisher:VIZ Media LLC; Shojo Beat Manga Ed edition
Publication Date: English – Jan 9, 2007
Stand Alone/Series: Volume one of an ongoing series.
Summary: Cross Adademy is attended by two groups of students: the Day Class and the Night Class. At twilight, when the students of the Day Class return to their dorm, they cross paths with the Night Class on their way to school. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the Guardians of the school, protecting the Day Class from the Academy’s dark secret: the Night Class is full of vampires!
Yuki Cross has no memory of her past prior to the moment she was saved from a vampire attack ten years ago. She was adopted by the headmaster of Cross Academy, and now works alongside Zero to guard the Academy’s secret. Yuki believes that vampires and humans can coexist peacefully, but her partner has different ideas…
Why did I read the book:It was recommended by one of our readers and I thought it could be a good addition to the Manga week.
I had my eyes on this Manga series ever since it was suggested by a reader way back when. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to pick it up and I am so glad I did – Vampire Knight, vol. 1 is a great way to start a series and it has wetted my appetite to read more. As an indication of its success (and as far as I am aware) the series is still ongoing and it currently has 9 volumes published plus an anime series with 26 episodes so far. This Manga is a traditional Japanese Manga meaning that the writing (and the reading) is from right to left and what we usually think as the front cover is actually the back. It takes getting used to, but once I get going it was rather easy not to get lost.
The opening page is already stunning in the art department and with a great set-up: a young girl being attacked by a vampire and saved by another. The child’s name is Yuki Cross and ten years later she is a student at Cross Academy and the adopted daughter of its headmaster, Cross Kaien. She is also a member of the school’s disciplinary committee along with her friend Zero. They need to make sure that the kids that attend the Day Class do not interact too much with the kids from the Night Class – the disciplinary committee are charged with maintaining the order and making sure that the secret is kept: that all of the kids in the Night Class are vampires – of the preternaturally beautiful and intelligent kind.
The Cross Academy is therefore, a special place born out of the headmaster’s dream that one day vampires and humans can co-exist pacifically. The kids go about their days (or nights) attending classes, the Day Class being clueless about the true nature of the Night Class. It is not very clear – at least not in this first volume – how exactly this co-existence is supposed to work with the Day Class being ignorant about the Night Class’ true nature so I feel that the true experiment relates to the Night Class being able to check themselves –for that they even take blood pills. If the Day Class is controlled by the disciplinary committee , the Night Class answers to Kaname Kuran, pureblood vampire of an ancient lineage and the vampire who saved Yuki’s life and took her to headmaster Cross. Kaname is both respected and feared by the other Night Class’ students and he helps keeping them away from the humans.
And this is the trio that carries the story: Yuki, who is a cheeky 15 year old girl clearly dedicated to her duties to her father’s ideal and to her friends – she has a close relationship with zero and a HUGE crush on Kaname who she knows is beyond her human grasp; Zero, an emo 16 year boy who comes from a vampire hunting lineage and abhors anything vampire – Zero has a tragic past and the secret he and the headmaster keep will change his life forever once it emerges; and Kaname who has a status in the midst of the all of the vampires and a stranger relationship with the headmaster – he seems to know more than he is supposed to about both Zero and Yuki’s past.
It is clear that both men have feelings for Yuki and that the series has a great potential for angst and darkness; and it starts in this first volume that is both introduction and set up of things to come (to say more about the plot is to spoil it). There is a bit of humour and a bit of lightness but I think this qualifies more as a dark fantasy series.
Whereas both the story and characters are interesting and the premise clever , I thought the greatest strength of Vampire Knight is the art –which I thought was gorgeous, stunning. The boys look like boys (a pet peeve of mine when it comes to Manga and Anime is that usually the men are so effeminate) and the action sequences were very cool and upped the tension quite a lot. There was great attention to details – from the different uniforms to the weaponry used.
If you are sick of Vampire flavouring with your paranormals you should probably keep away. Vampire angst (“to suck blood or not to suck blood that is the question”) is not really original but I liked what I saw so far, specially with a few hints that there is more to the angst than that simple equation – I will most certainly read volume 2 and see how it goes from there.
Notable Quotes/ Parts: An example of the art:
The Night Class:
Additional Thoughts: Vampire Knight reminded me of Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead which has a similar setting – a boarding school for vampires and humans.
But Vampire Academy is a bit more complex that the mere division between humans and vampires and is of course, a proper YA book and not Manga. It is in any case, highly recommended. Our joint review is here.
Verdict: Gorgeous art. Clever premise with interesting albeit not entirely original (vampire angst? been there, done that) characters.
Rating: I would rate the art alone at around a 9 and the book as a whole at a lower 7 – it is difficult to judge since it is only the first volume.
Reading Next: Demon Diary by Kara.
EstelleJanuary 12, 2009 at 11:37 am
Wow, thanks for reviewing this! I’m glad you thought it didn’t suck since I was the one that recommended it to you in the first place (I always feel bad when that happens.)
I’m happy to know you’ll continue on to volume 2. Volume one is the weakest of the series. There’s a lot of exposition and the plot seems kind of simplistic and “been there, done that”.
You mentioned Vampire Academy and I think it’s a good analogy for the first 4 or 5 volumes. But, in fact, Vampire Knight is vastly more complex than Vampire Academy. There are a lot of twists that I never saw coming. It’s just that everything takes a while to fall into place.
And that’s one of the weak points of the series I thought: at first it just seems like your typical vampire love story and people who are fed up with the genre will just give up pretty quickly.
From what the author has said, we’ve reached the halway-point of the series (the latest chapter that came out was Chapter 46 but it’s only available on the web for now) so there’s still a lot more to come. And it seems that the second part will give the series a broader scope.
Nothing is as it seems, be it Kaname, the headmaster, Yuki, Zero, the Night Class, the Hunter Society etc…
I’ve been reading a lot of Shoujo mangas over the past few months and it becomes easy to find a pattern after a while, especially when it comes to the relationship side of things. But I simply can’t predict what will happen in VK. It could go in several directions and I’m along for the ride no matter what, if only for the art, which I can’t get enough of.
And I’m really looking forward to your review of Death Note. I’ve had my eye on this manga for a while now but never got to purchasing the first volume.
AnaJanuary 12, 2009 at 12:24 pm
Hey Stelle, good to see you here!
First of all, thanks for the recommendation – I really liked Vampire Knight and with your comment here I am even more psyched about it. I totally agree about the art as well – I am crazy about it!
EstelleJanuary 12, 2009 at 12:59 pm
Ah, I’m always here to read your wonderful reviews (I visit pretty much everyday), only I don’t post comments. A bit like a ghost, you could say.
I hope you enjoy the next volume!
Do you intend to watch the anime by any chance?
AnaJanuary 12, 2009 at 1:14 pm
I don’t know, I would love to , but I need to do some investigating first as to how I can get a hold of it. Is it on DVD by any chance?
EstelleJanuary 12, 2009 at 1:28 pm
Ah, no, it’s not licensed in the US. As long as it’s not picked up by a US company it’ll never come out on dvd there.
The only way for non-japanese speakers to watch it is to do it on the internet. Fans subbed the episodes and they’re available on Youtube or for download on some Anime websites. I can give you links by mail if you’re interested. I recommend downloading because the quality is better.
I hope it will come out on dvd with english subs one day because I’d love to watch it on my tv instead of my computer screen.
I like the anime a lot. It’s not as good as the manga but it’s a pretty decent adaptation.
And I’ve just come back from a quick surf on Youtube and found a video that might give prospective readers a good idea of the art. The only thing is that it’s full of spoilers for the first volume.
SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST VOLUME. DON’T CLICK IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED:
Watch in High Quality. It’s a Yuki/ Emo boy Zero vid so you won’t see any of the other characters, it’s just to get a taste of the art and some of the storyline.
AnaJanuary 12, 2009 at 1:42 pm
OMG, this video is really cool but I looked for others and the Anime looks amazing!!!! *thud*
If you could send me the links to dl the anime it would be great – but I am guessing I should catch up with the Manga first right? I don’t want to be spoiled. OK. I am TOTALLY PSYCHED ABOUT THIS.
TheaJanuary 12, 2009 at 1:49 pm
Ok, I totally want to read this series and watch the anime now! Similar to Vampire Academy, you say? I’m intrigued. Ana, send me the manga now! Pretty please?
Thanks again for the recommendation Estelle! I cannot wait to give this manga a try!
EstelleJanuary 12, 2009 at 2:03 pm
Well, it can be addictive….
I also have the links to some good music videos…hehe. But they all have huge spoilers. I posted this one because it only has spoilers for volume 1.
See what we’ve done? Thea wants to read it now!
Yes, I absolutely recommend that you catch up with the manga first. The 2 anime seasons cover all the chapters that are currently available so you’ll be spoiled beyond belief if you watch the anime first.
On the other hand, watching the anime first will tell you if you’ll like the rest of the manga without investing in all the other volumes….
So it’s a bit of a dilemma isn’t it?
Can I give the links for the downloads here? I know I mentioned emails in my previous post but it occured to me that some readers might want to watch it too.
AnaJanuary 12, 2009 at 2:07 pm
I’d rather you emailed me the links if that is ok – anyone who wants them can email me.
Thea – *highfive* posting it tomorrow!
EstelleJanuary 12, 2009 at 2:28 pm
Sure thing. I just sent an email to the contact@thebooketc address with the links.
KrisJanuary 12, 2009 at 3:05 pm
I’m a big fan of anime and manga, and am always ‘taste-testing’ different series at bookstores and the via the internet, etc. I’m definitely intrigued by ‘Vampire Knight’. The artwork is stunning and the premise sounds interesting.
A great review, Ana, and I for one send a big thanks to Estelle, Karen and Chandra for giving The Book Smugglers the germs of the idea for this week.
A question though… no yaoi?? You weren’t interested in trying out this genre?
oranniaJanuary 12, 2009 at 3:23 pm
Thank you Ana. A friend of mine reads a lot of manga and I have to admit to being intrigued. And the library had a manga display before Christmas….I will have to investigate further 🙂
TheaJanuary 12, 2009 at 3:38 pm
Thanks for the links, Estelle! Ana is so sending me the first manga, and I’m stoked to get started with the series
Kris–ooh, we haven’t tried any yaoi (this is m/m manga, yes?)! Do you have any suggestions for us? I’d definitely give it a shot 🙂
What I’m loving most about the manga I’ve gotten to read is how dark and depraved some of the horror stuff is. I really need to get on board and read more in this format.
Orannia–Investigate away! 🙂 As you can see, Vampire Knight has a pretty dedicated following 😉
AnimeJuneJanuary 12, 2009 at 4:10 pm
I saw the anime instead of the manga, but I was still hooked! It was AWESOME! I normally don’t like vampire romances after Buffy, but this one I enjoyed.
Although it DID remind me of a weird north american show from 2001 called “Vampire High,” which had the same day class/secret vampire night class idea, AND the headmaster who tries to help vampires get along with humans.
The only difference being that “Vampire High” sucked and its characters were ugly. Vampire Knight characters are much prettier. 😀
AnnaJanuary 12, 2009 at 10:13 pm
I love love the Vampire Knight series!:D The lucky fans in Japan get the tv show based on the Manga. I wonder if we’ll ever get it.
KrisJanuary 13, 2009 at 12:20 am
Hey Thea, yaoi comes in various shapes and forms (which actually sounds a lot more dirtier than I meant it to be *g*) including manga.
I haven’t been reading it for long, but one of the first recommended to me, which I not only enjoyed but is very popular and the artwork is terrific, is The Crimson Spell. If you’re interested Sarah did a review of it here: http://sharrow.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/crimson-spell-volumes-1-and-2-by-ayano-yamane/. The thing to keep in mind is that it IS m/m so you could be in for a bit of this 😯 .