Vampire Knight

Genre: Horror/Shoujo
Format: 13 Episodes
Allegiance: Studio Deen
Director: Sayama Kiyoko
Vintage: 2008
Intelligence Agency Report by: Miki
When Yuuki Cross was 5 years old, she was attacked by a vicious, mad vampire and saved by the intervention of a gentle, young vampire named Kaname. After the incident, she was adopted by a pacifist vampire hunter named Kaien Cross who sought to open a school to help vampires and humans coexist peacefully. Now attending the high school her father dreamed of, alongside another victim of a vampire attack adopted by Cross, Zero Kiryuu,,the two students police the school grounds for their adopted father and headmaster. The vampires, student-led by Kaname himself, and humans attend separate classes, vampires at night and humans during the day, in order to help keep space between the blood-hungry and their potential prey. On top of this already volatile situation, secrets lurking in the past threaten to shatter the delicate peace Yuuki’s family has fought to build.

Field Agent Report by: Miki
Overall 6.25

I’ll admit, this is a first for me. Never before have I watched the entirety of a series I didn’t like for the sake of writing a review. I’m still not sure if the score is too high due to sympathy for Vampire Knight’s few good points or too low due to being overly harsh on its bad points. Regardless, I feel that Vampire Knight is an unimaginative show that panders too greatly to the lowest common denominator of female fandom and does just enough to get by.

The strongest aspect of Vampire Knight, adapted from a still-running manga series from 2005, is its characters. Without some of them, the show really is nothing. Despite a full supporting compliment of stereotypical roles played entirely by stereotypically pretty men with fangs, the male leads of the show are surprisingly deep, if not only for the secrecy lying underneath their day-to-day activities. Yuuki, the female lead, was also an incredibly refreshing change from the typical whiny, weak, love-crazed, physically unbalanced, clumsy leads associated with most other Mary Sue roles. For example, when she becomes infatuated with male characters, she is not hopelessly in love with them and keeps her head about her when she interacts with them. This doesn’t completely remove her from Mary Sue territory, however, as she still requires saving on a regular basis from the ever-so-dashing male leads. Her father is also a riot to watch. Easily my favorite character, the headmaster is incredibly happy-go-lucky and is only serious when the situation calls for it (and sometimes not even then). The interactions between these characters and seeing how their relationships develop were really the only things that made this show worth watching. They even manage to somehow make up for the overblown angst of one of the male leads.

Most of the other supporting characters are just filler of the worst kind. They are comprised of three groups: the female vampires, the human fangirl students, and the human class president/fanboy. The female vampires hardly even have personalities (let alone the male harem-type ones); the human fangirl students exist as a hive mind, a swarm of squeals in admiration of the male harem-type vampires; the requisite nerd/geek character has an unnatural infatuation for one of the female vampires. Lame. Simply lame. Just as cringe-worthy, the main antagonist (who doesn’t show up until over halfway through) is incredibly annoying to watch. Finally, all true vampires apparently have magical powers of some kind based on their clans or something. You see them all used mostly once, split between two different fights over 13 episodes. Disappointing.

The sociopolitical situation of conflicting races trying to integrate makes for an interesting setting, and in the area of science, the school is trying to develop a “blood tablet” to end the vampire need for human blood altogether. There are also little tidbits given regarding a complex vampire political structure acting behind the scenes. If only all the news was so good. Since the release of Twilight, there’s been much talk about “vampire rules” in stories. In Vampire Knight, they too follow a different code. For example, they can be out in the sun to no ill or cosmetic effects and their fangs only come out when they need blood. There are also anti-vampire bullets somehow. That only hurt vampires. Which are colored red. I’m not making this up. The plot is also pretty bad. Since any action that happens revolves around characters’ secrets, I can’t talk too much about them, but any twists and reveals that happen are both visible from miles away and are revealed more than once before Yuuki finally finds out. While realistic, it makes for boring viewing. Also, while the ending concludes an arc, it also leaves the door wide open for the next series, Vampire Knight Guilty.

When it comes to the audio, the soundtrack for the series is competent and appropriate, albeit limited. The points it gets mostly come from a stellar opening song by Japanese male twin duo On/Off and a spooky ending theme that amplifies the spooky nature of the subject matter at hand. I had to deduct points for the incessant screaming whenever the fangirl students were around. Visually, while the character designs, school uniforms, and overall style were very attractive, the animation itself was pretty much a minimal effort. When the climactic fight of the series looks clunky and choppy, you’ve got a problem.

While it has undeniable style and some engrossing characters, Vampire Knight is nothing but wasted potential. It tried to do too much in regards to the story and didn’t do enough in execution. Having mentioned Twilight earlier, this really is the anime version of the book – there’s a lot to like, a lot to hate, and a lot of thirsty vampires. Take that as you will. Also in the vein of Twilight, there is a sequel, and I plan to check it out to see if it redeems this average, fan-pandering series.