Friday, December 25, 2020

#IReadsYou DVD Review: VAMPIRE KNIGHT Volume 1

VAMPIRE KNIGHT Volume 1 (2010)

• Rated ‘T+’ for Older Teens • MSRP: $19.97 US / $28.99 CAN •
DVD Release Date: July 20, 2010
Studio: VIZ Media
Format: Animated, Color, DVD, NTSC (Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1)
Number of discs: 1
Language: English and Subtitles: English
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Running time: 96 minutes; Rating: Not Rated

Contents:  Vampire Knight anime – Episodes 1-4

Vampire Knight is a shojo manga written and drawn by Matsuri Hino.  It was published from January 2005 to May 2013 in the Japanese comics magazine, LaLa.  VIZ Media published an English-language adaptation of Vampire Knight as a 19-volume paperback graphic novel series from January 2007 to October 2014 under its Shojo Beat imprint.

Japanese animation studio, Studio Deen, produced an anime series “Vampire Knight,” based on the manga.  It aired in Japan for two series in 2008.  VIZ Media and Warner Bros. originally released the “Vampire Knight” anime in English via a series of DVD releases, including 2014's Vampire Knight: The Complete Series.

In 2010, Warner Bros released the first collection, Vampire Knight, Vol. 1, which presents “Vampire Knight” Season One, Episodes 1 to 4.  The episodes are as follows:  #1 “Night of Vampires,” #2 “Memories of Blood,” #3 “The Fang of Penitence,” and #4 “Trigger of Condemnation.”  Back then, VIZ Media sent me a copy of Vampire Knight, Vol. 1 for review purposes.  This is an updated version of that review I wrote over a decade ago.

Vampire Knight is set at Cross Academy, a private boarding school.  Cross Academy has two classes:  the Day Class (the human students) and the Night Class (the vampire students).  At twilight, the Day Class students return to their dorms and cross paths with the Night Class on its way to school.  The Day Class doesn’t know the school’s dark secret that the Night Class students are vampires, but the Day Class girl students are madly in love with the boys of the Night Class

The story focuses on Yuki Cross, the adopted daughter of Headmaster Kaien Cross.  She partners with Zero Kiryu, a human student who struggles with the vampire’s thirst, and the two are the Guardians of the school, patrolling the hallways and school grounds to protect the Day Class students from the vampires.  Yuki and Zero form a kind of love triangle with Kaname Kuran, a pure blood vampire who is basically the unquestioned leader of the Night Class.  The series follows various intrigues related to the conflict between human and vampire, and the story also delves into the pasts of the three leads.

The four episodes included in this first DVD release introduce the plot, setting, characters, and mythology of Vampire Knight in such an easy and friendly way.  It will not be long into the first episode that the viewer will believe that she is well on her way to knowing and then loving these characters.  The series favors the Night Class over the Day Class, which seems to exist to praise and worship the Night Class.  The vampires are beautiful, sexy, and sassy, and their air of confidence is infectious.  The Day Class cast of characters is mostly dull.

The star, of course, is Yuki Cross.  In a series like Vampire Knight, what is needed is a character that is probably more nosy than curious and also brave enough to go where others will not go.  That will make viewers want to follow her quest and investigations, and Yuki will have the viewers hanging onto her.  The two male interests, Zero Kiryu and the vampire Kaname Kuran, are also quite good.  Their aloof, cocky natures are attractive, and if it is possible for an animated character to have a screen presence, they both have that.

The quality of the animation is good.  It emphasizes style and stylishness over movement and features vivid colors, lush background details, and elegant sets.  This look is perfect for the Gothic moodiness and romantic melodrama that defines the look and feel of Vampire Knight.

Vampire Knight, Vol. 1 will reveal some secrets, expose Zero’s affliction, and give viewers a shocking look at a kind of vampire that isn’t a sexy, laid back student.  While aimed at young women, Vampire Knight is a surprisingly engaging melodrama and will please anyone interested in soap operas – with vampires.  This is a cool take on vampire fiction similar to the tales of vampire romance that readers will find in Young Adult book series such as Twilight and Vampire Kisses.

EXTRAS:  This is a no frills DVD without any extras, although viewers are offered the option of watching episodes in Japanese with English subtitles or dubbed versions with voice actors providing English dialogue.

7.5 out of 10

Updated review:  Thursday, December 17, 2020: by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

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