Vampire Knight Guilty Volume 1

Title: Vampire Knight Guilty
Rating: 12

As many people who have spoken to me know, I am hard to impress when it comes to vampires. As a child of the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ era, I was spoilt early on with my vampire fiction and series. So anything I read or watch to do with vampires really has to be something different, and very well done to catch my attention.

Vampire Knight Guilty caught my eye as a good place to start with the Vampire Knight series. I hadn’t seen the first series, and was too poor to buy it, so when this review disk arrived I thought I would make the most of the opportunity.

As I mentioned, Vampire Knight Guilty follows on from where Vampire Knight’s first season left off, with Zero missing from class after his collapse from blood thirst, and Yuki not sure of his current fate. As Yuki struggles to control the day class, Zero reappears and all is normal again. Then some clanking foreshadowing comes crashing in with all the subtlety of Timmy Mallet – Someone has been fiddling the execution list for the Hunters Association, and Zero was framed for murder, bringing down assassins from the vampire council. Kaname defends him, but why? And at what cost?

Perhaps I would have benefitted from having watched season 1 first. There were flashbacks, but the dialogue at once told me too much and nothing at all that was relevant to my understanding. So I can’t talk too much about the plot, because there is still a lot I don’t understand, even after having read about what happened in the first series. So as someone unconnected from plot and storyline, I will give you my views as disconnected entertainment.

The positive: The animation style is really nice. It is very very similar to that used in Ouran High School Host Club, and some characters would easily be transferable, on face level, between the two. The character design is lovely, very elegant, and the distinction is clear between the humans and the vampires. Brighter coloured hair, bigger eyes, slightly more lithe figures. I love the details which have been put into each individual character’s design.

It’s just a shame we don’t see that much of the supporting cast. It focuses very much on Zero, Yuuki and Kaname, and sadly I don’t find any of them particularly interesting. Their story isn’t anything new, and neither are they. Kaname is the superior, mysterious vampire ‘lord’, Zero is the conflicted hero, and Yuki is the hapless innocent damsel torn between the two of them. Twilight did it. Vampire Diaries did it. True Blood did it. Buffy did it. It’s a love story that has been over done, with more charismatic characters than Vampire Knight provides. (Please don’t think I’m talking about Twilight here)

And that’s all I really got from Vampire Knight. It is extremely derivative of almost every other vampire fiction which has been produced, and in my opinion, the others did it better. The glowing eyes, the faux-biblical soundtrack, they have all been done before, and done with real style and for reasons which legitimately fit the source material. Vampire Knight is all prosing and posing, with no subtlety or strength of plot. The dialogue clunks in places, and the exposition is so contrived and obvious and forced. It’s mostly done through flashbacks which don’t fit the current narrative flow, and often which change the actually pattern of events slightly – in the second episode, Yuki is remembering Zero waking up and hugging her in panic at the end of the previous episode. However, as the flashbacks progress she starts to remember him nearly kissing her, which wasn’t shown in the original. The series uses half-finished sentences as ‘delicate’ exposition, but it feels forced and just doesn’t work.

Another thing is that whilst it has a very similar style to Ouran, it really lacks the panache and energy Ouran has. The characters are uninspiring, and the leading trio especially so. The voice acting is pretty good, and the actors do the best they can with a sub-par script. The leading lady is drippy and wishywashy, making choices for the sake of plot advancement which make no logical sense. Kaname can blow things up with his mind apparently, but that seems like a forced bit of plot and character development.

The anime does try some new things – vampires can be both born and created, they appear to possess different powers, and there are different levels of vampire within that. This idea is interesting but, in the long run, not interesting enough for me.

Overall: 2/5

Do you agree with this review? What do you think of Vampire Knight Guilty? Let us know!


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