Sun, 19 October 2008
Manga review of Vampire Knight Volume 2 by Matsuri Hino. Translated and adapted by Tomo Kimura. Originally published in Japan by Hakusensha. Published in US by Viz Shojo Beat, $8.99, Rated T+ for Older Teen.
There was a pretty startling revelation in Volume 1 of Vampire Knight when we learned that Zero Kiryu, vampire hater and hunter, was actually a vampire himself, and had been fighting against his urges for a couple of years. In addition, the blood tablets that the vampires have been using to sate their thirst for blood do not work very well on former humans, so Zero has become more and more unstable. In Volume 2, we find out that Zero is classified as an "Level E" vampire. Yes, that's right, there's a pecking order, or should I say, a "biting" order even in the vampire world. At the top are the Level As, or Purebloods, who are the only ones that can turn humans. Then at Level B, we have the Aristocrats. Both Level As and Bs are the rulers of the vampire world. At Level C, we have the Commons. Level Ds are former humans. This is where we start to have problems. Eventually, Level Ds begin to go crazy with bloodlust and become nothing more than blood-craving maniacs, which are known as Level Es. The "E" stands for "The End". The Level A and Bs are responsible for keeping the Es in check, and sometimes they even kill them when there is no other option. Unfortunately, what this means is that Zero will eventually lose control of himself and turn into a Level E. He has even asked Yuki to kill him if this ever happens. Yuki has a special bracelet, a controlling mechanism a la Inuyasha, that she can use to keep Zero under control. Zero's former sensei, Toga Yagari, a powerful vampire hunter, is brought in as a temporary teacher to keep an eye on Zero.
I have a hard time figuring out why vampires are seen as erotic seducters. To me, they are simply superhuge leeches or humanoid mosquitoes. So when Zero takes a bite out of Yuki's neck, I feel a bit of revulsion and disgust, not gothic romanticism. I mean, in the end, vampires cannot live without sucking the life essence out of a human. But I guess humans aren't any different. We have to eat other life for us to have life. It's just meat and vegetables instead of blood. So I'm not into the current fad of urban vampire/werewolf/female detective/student novels/manga. But I do appreciate the characters in Vampire Knight. Sure, it can sink into melodrama at times, almost like a higher stakes Peach Girl, but Zero, Yuki, and Kaname, rise above the material. It also helps that Matsuri Hino is surprisingly adept during action sequences. It makes for quite an intriguing series. I am very curious to see how it all works out and if it has a happy ending.
My Grade: B+
Listen to my podcast of Volume 1: