I am somewhat of a new manga reader having discovered this genre a little more than a year ago. Just like my other genre books, I am dedicated to reading what I’ve bought. Some titles will be new, some titles not. Every Monday I will be highlighting manga or graphic novels that I have read from my TBR pile. Hopefully, you’ll find titles that interest you (or not) and as usual, I am always open for suggestions/criticisms/commentary from readers.
Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino (vol.4), copyright April 2008, published by Viz Media and rated for Older Teens (OT), retail price $8.99. This series can be best described as romance and horror. The story centers around the Cross Academy, which is home to two types of students: humans and vampires. Pacifist, Headmaster Cross, decided that humans needed to learn more about vampires and vice versa in order to live together in peace. The two classes are designated as the Day Class and the Night class accordingly. The classes are separated and monitored by Disciplinary Committee members and students, Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu.
Yuki was adopted by Headmaster Cross after being attacked by a pure blood vampire ten years prior. She is sweet and completely devoted to helping one guy and secretly crushing on another. Her best friend, Zero,was also attacked by vampires. He was the lone survivor of a vampiric attack four years ago. Zero’s family were vampire hunters. They were killed by a pure blood and ever since that attack, he’s sworn revenge on all vampires and the woman who took his life and led him into darkness.
Meanwhile, Headmaster Cross takes in Zero and manages to keep quiet about Zero’s attack; he even provided Zero with blood tablets to off-set his chances of becoming what he hates most: a vampire. Needless to say, Zero’s thirst for blood had become insurmountable as his body rejects the blood tablets; eventually he becomes the monster that he despises. One of many story arcs follows Zero as he teeters on edge of control over his bloodlust. Zero comes close to becoming a level E vampire, and such vampires are usually hunted and eliminated by vampire hunters because of their uncontrollable bloodlust.
Night Class president, Kuname Kuran, was the one who saved Yuki that fateful night four years ago. He has become her friend and a romantic interest. Kuname is a powerful vampire and a pure blood. He follows vampire customs and traditions. He is aware of Zero’s secret and decides not to act against him as per vampire law. Kuname makes a bargain with Zero: he tells Zero to watch over Yuki and shield her from danger; it is this directive that keeps Zero alive according to Kuname (vol.3). Needless to say that Yuki is well aware of Zero’s secret and inner turmoil and vows to save him. Helping Zero, she finds herself in the middle of vampire politics and power play. There is a triangle of sorts between Zero, Yuki and Kuname; both men are in love with Yuki or at least find themselves attracted to her. I actually like both characters and don’t have a particular favorite.
In vol.3, there were several new plot developments. The Cross Academy had accepted a new transfer student named Maria Kurenai (vol.3). Readers had learned that the vampire that killed Zero’s family was still alive. Since attending the Academy, she causes a quite stir with the Night Class and seems to share a past history with Zero (vol.4). We learn that Maria is the vampire who led Zero into darkness and killed his family and that she has a blood bond with him that thwarts his attempts to kill her. Volume 4 explores that history further, going into details of that fateful night, with Zero’s parents and realizing that Zero has a twin brother.
This entry (4) has a surprise ending of sorts that ends with a cliffhanger as usual. This installment does move the plot along, further fleshing out Zero’s internal conflict and resolving a bit of it. It also introduces more complications for Zero, Yuki and Kuname. A bargain has been struck to sacrifice one life for the other and I will not elaborate further. I do have some complaints about this entry. First, the beginning of this graphic novel was quite busy and somewhat confusing. There was just so much going on in each of the frames that it was hard to follow the narrative. /end of complaints/. There is the usual power struggle and politics within the vampire culture that plays a significant role in this series that I find quite entertaining. After four volumes, we learn that Kuname has enemies and that Zero has a twin; and then there is the question mark ending that I can’t make heads or tails of and will have to wait till volume 5.
Overall, good entry as far as learning about Zero’s past and keeping readers on edge. There is the love triangle that is still somewhat unresolved and subtle within the framework of the plot and the artwork, as usual, is good. Yuki’s actions thus far are quite repetitious and predictable and I hope the author mixes things up a bit in future volumes. B. Note: This is a great series in which to start for readers looking to dip their toes into the genre if you enjoy romance, vampires and loads of angst and beautiful men. ^-^
[tags]Vampire Knight, Manga Review, Matsuri Hino, Vampires[/tags]