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August 16, 2010

Bento Bako Weekly: Vampire Knight disc 1

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Vampire Knight
Publisher: Produced by Studio Deen, licensed by Viz Media
Volume: Disc 1 (episodes 1-4, of 13), $19.98
Vintage: April – July of 2008 in Japan, licensed in 2009 by Viz Media; the first disc was released in July 2010
Genre: Romance, vampires, drama

The anime Vampire Knight is based on the manga of the same name by Matsuri Hino.  At Cross Academy private school, humans and vampires share the campus, with humans attending class during the daytime, and the vampires at night.  The students only interact with each other when they switch over in the evenings.  It is the job of Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu, Headmaster Cross’s adopted children, to keep the peace by watching over the human students, and protecting the vampires’ secret.  Zero, a vampire hunter whose family was killed by a pureblood, loathes the vampires, particularly Kaname Kuran.  The vampires at Cross Academy are led by the pureblood Kaname, whom Yuki has a crush on.  It is the aim of Cross Academy, Headmaster Cross, and Kaname to create a world where vampires and humans can live side by side in peace.  In lieu of human blood, the vampires use blood tablets to sate their thirst.

Episode one is an introductory episode.  We learn about how Yuki was rescued from a vicious vampire attack when she was a child by Kaname, an event that marks her earliest memory.  Zero joined Yuki and the Headmaster’s household not long after.  The story’s premise is introduced, and it’s made clear that only Kaname’s presence has gathered the young vampires to the school and keeps them in line.  The aloof Zero begins exhibiting strange behavior.  Yuki shows a lot of optimism about a peaceful world with vampires and humans, but Zero clearly has no such hopes and would rather destroy them all.  All hell nearly breaks loose when Hanabusa Aido gets a whiff, and a taste, of Yuki’s blood.

Episode two is pretty standard for anime – it’s a St. Xocolatl Day extravaganza.  Basically, it’s Valentine’s Day, when girls give presents (typically chocolate) to guys they like.  Yuki and Zero are on high alert for an event for the Day Class girls to give chocolates to the Night Class boys.  We get a bit more flashback from Yuki and Zero’s past, when they first met, showing Yuki’s gentleness toward the traumatized young Zero.  As Yuki gathers the courage to give her gift to Kaname, Zero’s condition begins to escalate.  Yuki begins to question whether she is as important to Kaname, as Kaname is to her, and expresses concern over Zero’s increasing coldness toward her.

The series has enough pretty boys (and girls!) to satiate any shojo fan.

Things finally reach a breaking point in episode three.  After a goofy surprise dorm inspection, Yuki begins to grow suspicious of Zero and follows him into town.  She follows a little boy to an old building, where she is attacked by a pair of crazed vampires, and reminded that not all vampires are like the beautiful creatures that attend Cross Academy.  As Zero reaches his limit, Yuki finds herself caught in his hungry embrace.

Finally, the secrets start coming forward in episode four, as Kaname rushes to Yuki’s side to prevent Zero from devouring her.  Yuki struggles with this revelation, but instead of fearing Zero, she feels immense sympathy for the boy who hates vampires so much…hates what he himself is.  Yuki, afraid that Kaname will force Zero into the Night Class, goes to plead with him, but is confronted by Aido.  Aido is infuriated by the special treatment Yuki gets from Kaname, but the pureblood steps in before things get out of hand.  Kaname cautions her that Zero, as a human bitten by a pureblood, will eventually become one of the berserk vampires like the ones that attacked Yuki.  As Zero tries to run away, Yuki’s gentle heart makes her reach out to him.

The mythology of the series is well thought out, and the story is quite good, despite how silly the premise sounds.  It’s dark and dramatic.  There is some comedy, but it’s a far cry from the over-the-top goofy stories Matsuri Hino typically writes.  Personally, I love the character designs and think they fit the story and setting very well, especially the designs of the academy’s uniforms.  There’s quite a bit of symbolism in the opening and closing credits.  The opening credits (“Futatsu no Kodō to Akai Tsumi” by On/Off) feature some chess pieces on the screen, symbolizing how Kaname is manipulating events at Cross Academy and setting up the pieces he needs like he’s playing a game of chess.  There’s also a red web, and there are multiple webs of manipulation and lies during the series.  The ending theme (“Still Doll” by Kanon Wakeshima) shows Yuki as a still doll, and then as a puppet being controlled.  She is one of Kaname’s pieces, but it also symbolizes how like a doll she is, an item up for grabs (which makes more sense if you’ve been reading the manga, also from Viz), or something dainty that needs to be protected.

Image from the closing credits, “Still Doll.”

The animation is beautiful, specifically the rich colors.  One thing I miss reading the manga is how stunning and vibrant the colors can be.  And blood just isn’t the same when it’s black instead of bright red.  The show is also well animated, and has an excellent Japanese voice cast.  Unfortunately the English dub doesn’t fair as well.  It’s not that the voice acting itself is bad (although Kaname’s voice actor leaves much to be desired, and Yuki’s is hit or miss throughout), but that the series has been badly cast.  When I first heard that Vic Mignogna was cast as Zero, I groaned.  It’s nothing against Vic, as I think he’s an excellent voice actor in terms of emotional depth, but I was concerned his voice wouldn’t fit the character.  My opinion hasn’t changed now that I’ve heard him as Zero.  Where’s Crispin Freeman when you need him (would have made a good Kaname as well)?  Banking on Haruhi,I guess.

The disc I was sent did not have subtitles (though it did have both audio tracks), or a menu selection screen, so I can’t speak to the presentation of the DVD itself.  Nor do I know what extras the DVD offers (and I forgot to ask).  You can watch episodes of Vampire Knight streaming online at VIZAnime.com.  The first volume is out now, with volume 2 scheduled for September.  There are currently ten volumes of the manga available from Viz Media in America.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_Kris

Review copy provided by Viz Media.

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6 Comments



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Comic Attack, Kristin Bomba. Kristin Bomba said: New review @comicattack: Vampire Knight #anime DVD vol 1 from @Viz_Media https://comicattack.net/2010/08/bbwvampireknightdvd1/ […]



  2. Sometimes I just hate the English dubs and just watch with the subtitles (if they have them) because a lot of the voice actors just seem to either be too over the top or just detached from the character their portraying.

    This looks pretty good though but it always gets me that the guys are just as feminine in the looks department then the women are.


  3. Kristin

    I always try to give both dubbings a chance, though sometimes I fall into that…. Well, if I watched it in Japanese first, I got used to the voices, so any change sounds foreign. But I always give the English a try for a few episodes. There have been some that were SO bad I couldn’t watch it in English for more than 10 minutes. There are some that I don’t like watching in Japanese, though, too.

    This one isn’t horrible, it’s just badly cast. The voices don’t fit the characters, and a couple of the actors aren’t particularly strong in their roles. And it’s the main characters that are the problem (some of the minor characters sound just fine), which…is a huge problem since you hear them all the time.


  4. Serenity

    I agree, the english dub cast could have been better, Vic tried, and as much as i adore his work, its not Zero 🙁 but for the most part im hoping that it’ll get better with time -_- though im not sure if i can ever get used to Ethan Murry as Kaname ;__;

    the major problem i had though with the dvd had NO extras -_- would it kill you to put something in it ViZ??


  5. Billy

    The animation looks very good but $20 for 4 episodes? I think I got my box volumes of Batman the Animated series for less than that.



  6. 80 minutes of content with no extras is a little pricey at $20. But that’s standard for anime, really. It’s best to wait for boxed sets; it’s considerably cheaper that way.

    As for extras, they can only put on there what they have. There may be some on other discs. Who knows.



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