Japanese Title: Vampire Knight & Vampire Knight Guilty
Related: Vampire Knight Guilty (sequel – included in review)
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 26 episodes (13 per season)
- Nice French architecture.
- Poorly constructed and creepy relationships filled with empty romance.
- Dialogue so bad, you have to wonder if the writers have ever heard a real conversation.
- Makes no use of the human-vampire school premise.
- A Mary Sue here, a Mary Sue there, Mary Sue everywhere…
- Worst exposition writing techniques available.
- Tries to be sexy, but comes off as immature and disturbing.
- Double deus ex machina in the finale.
- Mediocre animation quality with an inconsistent frame rate and stiff motion.
Readers of Twilight and young adult supernatural romance are familiar with the casseroles of slop that flow through the pages of literature these days. Every medium has its El Supremo bilge genre, and literature’s bled into anime with Vampire Knight.
Like all vampire romances, this takes place in high school. Cross Academy is a boarding school with two separate schedules: Day Class for humans and Night Class for vampires to foster peaceful relations between the two races. The humans think the night class students are just rich hotties, as both classes are kept isolated, only crossing paths at sunset. Bella Yuuki and her adopted brother Jacob Zero work as guardians to keep the fangirls away from the vampires, who want a drink. Yuuki is incompetent at her job, can’t fight, and goes weak in the knees when a vampire so much as brushes her. She’s all that stands between humanity and becoming vampire fodder? We’re boned. In truth, pure blood vampire Edward Kaname keeps them in line. He’s the soft-spoken, brooding type, who spends his nights posing like a model on his chaise lounge – he seriously does nothing (like Edward).
This love triangle is the same as Twilight’s. Rich, handsome vampire admired by all with an ordinary human girl, but has something ‘special’ about her, plus another guy who has a hidden supernatural power and hates vampires. Even the narrative beats of the love triangle are the same. Vampire Knight does its best to outdo Twilight with creepy relationships. Instead of pedo-wolf, there is pedocest and pseudocest; frankly, by the time you reach the standard incest, it seems normal.
Vampire Knight’s greatest crime is the writing. If you want to have creepy relationships, at least write them properly. No one bats an eye here. Furthermore, even ignoring the creepiness, these relationships wouldn’t work. Taking a page, or several hundred, out of Twilight, Yuuki and Kaname have nothing in common beyond sexual attraction. To establish a believable romance, one that we’re told is deep and meaningful, the couple has to be friends first, lovers second. Ask yourself if any given couple would still be friends if they weren’t attracted to each other. If the answer is ‘no,’ then the relationship has no longevity, as is the case here.
The supporting cast is hollow too, with the humans passing as no more than fangirls and the vampires as mannequins in the window. You wouldn’t believe how many slow pans they have across the vampires posing for a photo-shoot. Sure, they each possess a special power…that they use maybe once, just like in, you guessed it, Twilight. At least they have fangs and don’t sparkle.
Much of the dialogue goes into exposition, which could explain why there were no words left for development. Characters will actually sit down and tell each other information they both already know. For example, the headmaster tells Kaname that he is a pure blood and goes into detail on what a pure blood is to the pure blood. “Hey reader, you are a reader, and right now you are reading this review. I bet you didn’t know that, did you?” Such amateur writing. Then they tell each other how vampires turn and die, which they both already know, given one is a vampire and the other is an expert on vampires. There’s a scene like this every episode.
Even when not expositing, the writing is rubbish. An opening line is “What’s snow? It’s something that’s not red.” I can imagine the translator in agony, unable to edit the worst writing in anime.
So the question is if this is as bad as Twilight. That’s difficult to answer. Vampire Knight is decent enough to play some of it for laughs. The fawning girls are so over the top, it’s amusing. Not all vampires are super cereal, joining in the comedy, particularly Aidou (often called Idol since he’s charming and popular with the girls), who collects all the junk broken by Kaname’s power in anger. However, once the second season, Vampire Knight Guilty, saunters in, it drops all humour for incest. The writers weren’t skilled enough for serious narrative and could have been successful with a comedy. A reverse harem would have been better, not good, but better.
Interestingly, Vampire Knight and Twilight started around the same time, though Twilight concluded five years ahead, which is why Vampire Knight tries to one-up Twilight’s convenient resolution via demon baby. You thought Vampire Knight forgot about that? Oh, n-n-n-n-no, not at all. You aren’t ready for Vampire Knight’s equivalent to that monstrosity in the manga.
Art – Medium
I like the French architecture used for the school. The character art is decent to make appealing vampires. A drop in animation during chibi comedy is acceptable, but in the action, it’s inexcusable. Even the opening sequences, where they usually go all out in visual quality, have noticeable stiffness. Where are the transition frames?
Sound – Medium
Right choice of instrumental music – organ, piano, etc. – though it does sound close to stock music. Despite the atrocious story, they didn’t skimp on the voice talent. We have the likes of Mamoru Miyamo (Rintarou in Steins;Gate) and Fumiko Orikasa (Riza in Full Metal Alchemist) in Japanese, and Troy Baker and Vic Mignogna in English. Shame the terrible dialogue cut them in the throat.
Story – Very Low
Vampire Knight hits every cliché, every creepy moment you can expect from tween vampire romances. With pedocest, incest, Mary Sues, and Deus ex machina, Vampire Knight has it all.
Overall Quality – Very Low
Recommendation: So bad that this is a must watch. Vampire Knight has done it. It has managed to bring Twilight to anime, and it is awful.
Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)