Saturday, August 22, 2009
Vampire Knight, vol. 3
The story: This story starts off innocently enough with a visit from Moon Dorm Vice President Ichijo Takuma's grandfather. Unfortunately, Ichijo is afraid of his grandfather, as he's an old and powerful vampire and holds a seat on the Vampire Senate. Thankfully, Kaname intervenes before a serious disaster ensues. Later, flashbacks abound of Kaname's and Yuki's time together when Yuki was younger. In more recent memories, things change when Zero, the sole surviving member of the vampire-hunting Kiryu family, joins Yuki and the Chairman. In the present day, Zero struggles with his growing vampiric tendencies, but follows orders when the Hunters Society sends Zero on a vampire-hunting excursion in town. Thinking that Zero is running away, Yuki follows him to near-disastrous results. At volume's end, a mysterious new student has joined Cross Academy and it seems that Kaname has been expecting her.
Reaction: It was great to see the history between the three main characters—Zero, Yuki and Kaname. The set-up really helped me understand the complicated relationship they share and explains the hostility and animosity between Zero and Kaname. Thankfully, their disregard for one another is not based on Yuki per se, but they do get along because of her. I also like the way Matsuri Hino lays this all out—while some manga seem haphazardly running along, especially in the first couple of volumes, there's a real sense of deliberateness in Hino's storytelling. It makes the connections and mystery behind all of these characters that much more satisfying to follow.
Deep thoughts: As I mentioned in my review of Millenium Snow, I always find it interesting when authors create their own vampire mythology. While the basics of blood-sucking, nocturnal creatures seems to hold constant, there are always small differences between each author's interpretation. For example, long-standing folklore has always held that vampires burn alive in sunlight, but not all authors include it in their stories. Then again, I guess it would be hard to write a love story (Vampire Knight has always been said to be a tragic love story) if humans and vampires couldn't spend some daylight together.
Artwork: Hino is just as good an artist, if not better, than she is a storyteller. And that's saying a lot considering that this isn't your run-of-the-mill vampire love story—there's also intrigue, conspiracy and plenty of action. I also really enjoyed this volume art-wise because of all the younger depictions of the main characters. They're not simply chibi-fied renditions of the adult characters, but true, childlike depictions. There's also a lot of emotion that Hino seems to easily capture, in both the adults and children throughout the volume.
The verdict: Highly recommended. While Vampire Knight started as a guilty pleasure for me, I can't help but enjoy this volume on a deeper level. I think it's the best of the first three, providing extensive background and revealing bits and pieces of Kaname's as-yet-unseen plan. While I know I'm being led down an intentional path, I'm more than happy to follow along. Vampire Knight is available in the U.S. from Viz.