SPOILER ALERT. There are some spoilers in this volume regarding Kaname’s true origin, though if you’ve been paying any attention at all to previous volumes, the “twist” isn’t really a surprise. It doesn’t even take the keenest reader to figure it out, as it’s practically spelled out more than once. Yuki, however, doesn’t know, so it’s news to her, and we get an expansion on his past.
At the end of volume 12, Yuki had decided to take things into her own hands and approach the oldest vampires still living, and offer them her assistance if they desired to end their lives (to keep innocents from becoming involved, or to avoid a scandal). With Aido at her side, Yuki decides to take a quick side trip to the cemetery where the housekeeper who looked after her as a child is buried. At the same time, Zero is visiting the same cemetery to pay his respects to his twin brother. While there, he struggles to find the humanity inside himself, and the spirit of Ichiru within him encourages him to keep on living. As Yuki stands outside the cemetery gates, she is confronted by the very vampire she was on her way to see – the ancient but childlike head of the Toma family. Annoyed that an upstart, powerless young vampire is trying to interfere with his plans, Toma attacks Yuki to teach her a lesson, just as Zero exits the cemetery. As Yuki collapses, Zero scoops her up and carries her to a nearby safe house for the Hunter Society. As hunger due to blood loss stirs within Yuki, and Zero’s scent overwhelms her, Yuki nearly sinks her fangs into him…and Zero, despite everything, seems perfectly willing to let her. She manages to gain control of herself, and rushes out to Kaname’s familiar, where she asks him to take her home, ready for any punishment that awaits her for disobeying his orders. Poor Aido gets left behind…with Zero. And Zero isn’t about to let the opportunity go to waste. Back at their manor, Kaname has drained Yuki of her blood and her strength (I’m…not sure why…maybe that’s her “punishment”?). Confused by his words of futility and his aura of despair, Yuki questions Kaname’s faith in her, and Kaname responds with a bombshell (the one we as readers have known for a while now) – he’s not her brother. Kaname takes Yuki to the mausoleum where he once slept for centuries, and it is there that he offers up the memories of his life through his blood. Desperate to uncover the mystery that is Kaname, she sinks her fangs into his neck, and is immediately met with a tragic vision of Rido and Yuki’s true brother. The bloody incident culminates in the rebirth of Kaname as a baby, whom Juri and Haruka raise as their own. As Yuki continues to absorb Kaname’s memories, she is taken further and further back in time, thousands of years, when the first vampires appeared. She watches as a lonely Kaname is first chased out of his village whose citizens have taken advantage of his blood, but now fear him for his abnormal qualities; and then welcomed by others that are like him. These are the progenitors of the vampire race, and even so very many years ago they took advantage of their powers. While those around him create servants and slaves abounding, Kaname refuses such a life, though it only weakens him. His kind nature deepens the friendship he has with a fellow progenitor, the same one who first found him and took him in. They make an agreement together to go after the vampires who have gone out of control. It becomes clear to Yuki that this person is very important to Kaname, and she can feel his emotions flowing towards that person, giving him purpose and hope. The story of Kaname’s past begins to weave with Zero and Aido in the present, as Zero guides the vampire into the depths of the Hunter Society Headquarters. As Zero tells Aido about the origin of the Hunters, Yuki watches their origin through Kaname’s memories. A much lighter bonus story highlights an overworked (by choice) Zero who must investigate a large number of vampires gathering at a particular idol’s concerts.
So in an effort not to be a (complete) hypocrite, let’s talk about the weird relationship between Yuki and Kaname. Where Kaname cages Yuki up like a helpless, delicate bird, and she basically lets him. Well, she does try to do things on her own, but she ends up running back to him when she fails, like a frightened kitten. Now, I understand why Kaname treats her as he does, even more so after the events revealed in this volume. He’s lost someone very dear to him in the past, which drove him to the deepest despair, and he doesn’t want to go through that again with Yuki. Of course, what’s more telling, is that he lost this person due to the actions of other vampires; specifically, the progenitors. Suddenly, so many of his actions are making sense. Whether it’s out of vengeance from past transgressions, or because he really just wants to protect Yuki…or maybe he wants to make good on a past promise. I’m not a hundred percent certain on his exact motivations, but the initial drive behind those motivations is clearer. I first suggested that the big “twist” in the story was about Kaname’s true identity, but maybe people are referring to the origin of the Hunter Society? Either way, several rather large hints are dropped about both throughout the series, so neither should be shocking to anyone who’s been following along closely. The only thing that really comes out of nowhere is Kaname’s involvement in the events around the formation of the Hunter Society, and once that’s revealed, again his past actions begin to make much more sense. But back to Kaname and Yuki…I don’t really understand why Hino decided to go to such an extreme with them. Yuki is a strong girl, she can defend herself, and she’s fairly intelligent. I know Kaname wants to protect her, but the way he manipulates her into believing she’s only safe at his side or locked away is getting quite uncomfortable. I tend to ignore it, but in this volume (and I was more perceptive to it having just read Ai Ore), Yuki, after getting quite a fright, losing a good amount of blood, and then having her emotions jumbled up by Zero’s presence, calls out to Kaname to bring her home, no matter the punishment he has waiting for her. That punishment is, I think, him draining the blood from her to make her weak and powerless, which is a sort of twisted way of teaching her a lesson about how weak she (supposedly) is. But to be honest, I don’ t know; maybe Hino just wanted some hot and heavy blood sucking. Though admittedly, in comparison to the ancient nobility, Yuki probably is a pretty weak vampire. After all, she hasn’t been alive for long, and she had her vampire powers sealed away for much of her life; nor has she gone around killing other aristocrats and absorbing their powers like a couple other certain vampires. Given that, and her relative naivety about the inner workings of vampire society, she is weak, and I can see why Kaname is so ridiculously protective of her. What I don’t understand is why he doesn’t just explain all that to her, instead of lording his strength and will over her. He’d rather “teach her a lesson” about it, and then punish her for it later. Thankfully I like the story and the characters in general. It’s certainly not that I don’t like Kaname. He’s quite complex and he has many plans running their course that could lead to any manner of outcomes. By his own admission, he both wants Yuki to soar and to cage her, so I assume there will be some solid outcome in that regard, and hopefully Yuki’s strength can carry her in the meantime. What’s interesting, however, is that Zero hasn’t been ruled out yet. Even Aido prompts him about his feelings for Yuki, and he’s one of the last people who should be doing so. I can see an outcome where Kaname either ends his life or goes back to sleep for Yuki’s sake, and she and Zero go on to rebuild the Hunter Society. Such a thing (or something similar) is plausible, but who knows where Hino will eventually take her story.
A quick note: I’m trying to clear some shelf space by selling off some extra manga I’ve got lying around. Please go to my former blog for details. There’s about 8 titles on there now, mostly shojo and yaoi.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.