Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Vampire Knight, vol. 2

As I mentioned in my first review, I started reading Vampire Knight midway through its run in Shojo Beat.

The story: In this volume, Zero shares portions of his past with Yuki as he comes to rely on her more and more. Zero's old master, Yugari, also pays a visit to Cross Academy and has a few things to say about how his student has changed. Meanwhile, the Night Class celebrates Takumi's birthday. And it seems that Kaname has plans for Yuki, which is why he excuses the increasing amount of time she spends with Zero.

Reaction: There's action, unresolved romantic tension, beautiful vampires, horror and, at times, even humor. But, the tragedy that's mentioned is almost expected and seems fairly clich├ęd. However, Matsuri Hino has a way of revealing just enough tidbits of the characters here to keep me intrigued. But, with such a large cast of characters, it's sometimes difficult to keep them all straight. Oh, and the implied love triangle between Kaname, Yuki and Zero is entirely too predictable for my taste. However, I can't say that this series isn't a guilty pleasure for me -- I did start reading it midway through its run in Shojo Beat.

Deep thoughts: I found it interesting that the blood tablets developed by the Night Class aren't entirely tolerable for those vampires who used to be human. While some medications are not tolerated as well by certain people -- perhaps due to allergies or other sensitivities -- health disparities and the effect of medications on different populations are still a relatively understudied area of medicine. Only recently have researchers and funding agencies like the National Institutes of Health sought to examine the differences between various ethnic groups and their tendency to develop certain maladies and chronic conditions.

Artwork: Wow, talk about screentone overdose! It's used to imply blood, color emotions, for shadows, in scenery and almost everywhere else. But, the action scenes are fast paced and well designed, employing "action" streaks or cross-hatching that show movement to great effect. Panel shape and design also plays a role here, too, for when there are action scenes, the panels become jagged and oddly shaped, moving the reader along quickly and instinctively. During "normal" scenes (or as normal as one might see in a vampire high school manga), the panel design is much more sedate and traditional. Of course, Hino also has an all-too-deft hand at character design, making characters distinctive and attractive.

The verdict: If only... This series is my guilty pleasure for a reason—it has little to no depth to the storyline early on and, on its face, is simply filled with "beautiful people." The situations that fill its pages are, at times, all too expected, but intriguing nonetheless, even for the ever-tired vampire tropes it recycles within its pages. Vampire Knight is available in the U.S. from Viz.

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