Manga Monday: Review – Vampire Knight Volume 1 by Matsuri Hino

mangamonday
Manga Monday is a weekly meme on I Heart Reading in which I review a manga novel. This week I’m reviewing the first volume of my favorite manga series of all time, Vampire Knight.

263145Title: Vampire Knight Volume 1
Author: Matsuri Hino
Genre: Manga, Paranormal Romance, Vampires, Drama
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
Publication Date: January 9th 2007
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy purchased by yours truly.

Cross Academy 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..

Vampire Knight is the manga that actually got me addicted to…manga. And anime. Not only is this a successful, still ongoing manga series in Japan and the rest of the world, it also served as the base for an intriguing anime series existed of two seasons: Vampire Knight and Vampire Knight: Guilty. Each season has thirteen episodes of anime goodness. If you’re a fan of vampires you definitely shouldn’t miss out on this series. Even if you’ve never read manga before or if you’re not generally an anime fan, this story definitely has all the goodies vampire fans will swoon over.

The setting is Cross Academy boarding school, a school for both regular teenagers and vampire teenagers. The school is divided into two separate classes: the Day Class existing of regular teenagers who occasionally swoon over their vampire counterparts and the Night Class where said vampires reside. Like in any self-respecting vampire series, the vampires are all equally gorgeous, Kuran Kaname the most handsome one of them all. That’s because, as is revealed quite early in the story, he is actually a pureblood vampire, whereas the other students of Cross Academy are only nobles. Although this faintly reminded me of Harry Potter and the entire pureblood drama, it can’t really be compared. In the universe of Vampire Knight there are only a handful of purebloods left and since they’re supposed to be the rulers of the vampire world, this naturally causes a lot of trouble.

The story starts with a young girl who’s standing outside on a snowy night and who is suddenly attacked by a vicious vampire. Luckily enough, the evil vampire is stopped by…yet another vampire. This time a more gorgeous one, local pureblood vampire Kuran Kaname. He saves the little girl and brings her to Cross Academy. This little girl is actually a younger version of our current fifteen year old heroine, Yuki Cross, prefect and school guardian. It’s her job to keep the Day Class students as far away as possible from the Night Class students. This gets extremely hard around the time the Day and Night Classes switch, since all teenage girls keep on swooning over the vampires and would do everything humanly possible to touch them. It’s actually more serious than it sounds. But whereas none of those unfortunate girls even get the chance to come remotely close to any of the vampires present, we see Kaname asking Yuki if she’s alright after she is thrown on the ground by the over-enthusiastic teens. It’s revealed practically right away that Yuki has a huge crush on Kaname, since she blushes feverishly when he talks to her.

So now we got to know one part of this epic love triangle, in walks the second part of the love triangle, Kiriyu Zero. He is the other school prefect and the only other person apart from Yuki and the headmaster who know about the existence of vampires and their presence at Cross Academy. A flashback teaches us that Yuki was raised by the headmaster of Cross Academy after she was brought there by Kaname on the faithful night he saved her from the vicious vampire that tried to kill her. A couple of years later, Zero is brought to Cross Academy as well after he witnessed his entire family getting slaughtered by a vampire. Needless to say, Zero is not a big fan of vampires. On the contrary, he hates them.

As the basis is set for the most epic love triangle you will ever come across. Most love triangle immediately point out one of the potential love interests as their favorite, but Vampire Knight refrains from doing so, pointing out both Zero’s and Kaname’s strong points. Yuki Cross is obviously stuck in the middle, except that she’s clueless about most of the things going on around her. Even though she’s madly in love with Kaname she has not the faintest clue that he likes her as well. And although she occasionally stresses the fact how much Zero means to her, she doesn’t realize the depth of her own feelings let alone Zero’s feelings for her. This obvious lack of insight could make Yuki an annoying character who makes the reader want to bump their head on the keyboard, but this isn’t the case here. Her innocence actually has a disarming effect, making the reader – at least, this happened to me – like her instantly. It’s not that Yuki’s a complete moron, it’s that she has two troubles. Lack of self-confidence leads her to believe that Kaname couldn’t possibly care about her in the slightest, and the fact that Zero is a master at hiding his feelings causes her not to see past the facade her fellow prefect has put up.

The supportive cast of this novel is impressive as well. The vampires, although hard to distinguish at first – some of the male vampires look remarkably alike – each seem to have different personalities, some of them well-developed, others still enhanced in mystery. Of course, this is still the initial setting so I suspect to learn more about the supportive cast as well, even if only gradually. There were some additional scenes in this manga that made me want to jump up and down in excitement. For instance, there is a racy exchange between Yuki and Aido Hanabusa, Cross Academy’s resident bad boy vampire, that hints at an erotic subtext missing from the rest of this volume. The flashbacks to the night when Yuki and Zero met are haunting and touching. Yuki’s interactions with her best friend indicate that there is more to this supposedly innocent and blatantly kindhearted protagonist than what meets the eye. She can be stubborn and resolved as well, and she’s obviously not afraid to fight for what she loves.

As a side note, the volumes are broken into Nights, rather than chapters. Chapter One is conveniently called Night One. I thought it was definitely an original thought. Secondly, the artwork for Vampire Knight is simply amazing. I read in other reviews that some people don’t like the artwork, or that it takes some time to get used to, but from all mangas I’ve read after reading this one, I still have to say I liked Vampire Knight’s art the best. The glassy eyes of some characters give this book a supernatural and ethereal appearance whereas the occasional cute chibi form adds a hint of humor to a manga that doesn’t shy away from dark themes and angst.

Each of the main characters has an interesting back story that explains why they display certain personality traits. For instance, we understand quickly why Zero is hateful towards all vampires in general, and we instantly feel for him when one of his darkest secrets is revealed in chapter four. On the other hand, we learn that Kaname cares for Yuki, but we’re still in the dark as to why exactly. The secrets and mysteries pile up and suck you right into the story. The characters were complex and enthralling enough to keep me on the edge of my seat, thanking God and all saints in heaven that I bought more than one volume of this manga. If you like reading about vampires, don’t dare to pass out on Vampire Knight. Although the first volume serves mostly as a way to set the mood and introduce us to the characters, it already holds a fair share of suspense, reveals some devastating secrets and some surprising plot twists, and makes the reader yearn for more.

Comments

  1. Where have you been all my blogging life? I love manga too and I LOVE Vampire Knight (have read her first manga MuriPeru? It’s only four volumes but its really sweet) I think it’s great that this is the manga that got you into manga and anime. I started with Sailor Moon years ago. 🙂

    New Follower 🙂
    ♥ Trish
    Just a YA Girl

  2. I have not read the manga for this but I have watched the anime and I really enjoyed it. I have tried reading manga before but I cannot seem to get into it for some reason.

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