A silly start turns into a blood inducing end as Vampire Knight starts off with fangs at the ready.
What They Say
The series Vampire Knight takes audiences to Cross Academy, which is attended by two groups of students: the Day Class and the Night Class. At twilight, when the students of the Day Class return to their dorm, they cross paths with the Night Class on their way to school. Yuki Cross and Zero Kiryu are the Guardians of the school, protecting the Day Class from the Academy's dark secret: the Night Class is full of vampires!
As a rare one disc review, with my new routine of watching half in Japanese and half in English, I still continued to do so by watching the first two episodes in English and the second two in Japanese. The audio was sublime - the first major thing you will get is that you don't get much difference between the two languages in terms of audio quality despite it saying 5.1 for English and 2.0 for Japanese; it's hard to tell the difference. There were no problems for audio transition in combination with the visuals and the subtitles, and it packs a really good punch in a show as atmospheric as this. Any dramatic music (especially when Zero reveals his true nature) in particular really showcases how well this comes out in both audio tracks, as it is a very solid audio release.
The video quality like the audio is superb, being one of the few releases that manage to intertwine both full screen and widescreen effects effortlessly without drawing attention the viewer that the change actually has happened. As mention, no problems with the subtitles in correlation to the audio, and the animation with this combination of screen effects without any disturbances I noticed make it for a top quality release. This is best illustrated in episode 3 during the only true battle sequence so far, and in episode 4 when Aido talks and semi-threatens Yuki down the stairs of the night dorms. I didn't get any problems switching menus from the main screen or subtitling issues so overall, a very good release.
There was no packaging for this test disc.
The opening menu is quite flashy, with background animated shots of the disc with Kaname and Zero on either side on a black/red background - almost like they are watching Yuki in the shots before them. The screen is very basic though with the selections for play, audio and episodes - with no scene select screen.
There were no extras on this disc.
Let the blood spill, as one of the more popular recent franchises sinks it's fangs into the UK. Vampire Knight is a rare single disc release in a turmoil where box sets have been the main things being reviewed, so this release is hoping that because of the show's popularity that it can do well in these conditions. But does the show warrant such attention? Well so far, not bad. Mostly straight-forward and no real surprises despite the shows attempts, but the hints of action, drama and romance are already there ready to be lapped up for future episodes.
Ironically though, it doesn't begin that way at all. In fact, the first two episodes are quite light-hearted. We first see a little girl in the snow, about to be attacked by a hungry vampire. In a flash, another vampire surprisingly saves her, and looking at the girl with pale beautiful eyes...
...cut to 10 years later, and that little girl has grown up to be Yuki Cross, adopted daughter of her school's headmaster Kaien Cross, where the school is also named after him. She is a student of the day class, and also a representative and 'guardian' to keep order at the school'mainly because of the mysterious yet handsome and beautiful students across the academy known as the night class. Of these includes someone familiar to Yuki'the same vampire who saved her 10 years ago, Kaname Kuran '" a handsome young man who appears to be the ruler of the night class where all the other vampires seem to do his bidding.
Yes, the night class is literally a school for vampires. They certainly don't seem to fit your typical vampire edge though - attractive, fun loving, silly, serious, they have the personality of your typical human. However, when the scent of blood comes'in particular for some reason, Yuki's blood, the vampires can't seem to resist. Which leads us to our third main character, Zero Kiryuu, a mysterious young man also adopted by Kaien, who is grumpy and gruff and seems to like teasing Yuki but with a frown on his face'yet he has a real hatred of vampires due to his unfortunate past.
We get little bits and bobs of the trios relationship - Yuki is clearly in love or great admires Kaname, Kaname seems to care for Yuki deeply almost like a sibling, whilst Zero has great distrust of Kaname but is willing to tolerate him for Yuki's case. He works as a guardian like Yuki, owning a gun called a Bloody Rose, which has the ability to destroy or damage vampires.
The first episode is mostly introductions, whilst the second episode seems to be quite silly at first '" with the day class trying to celebrate their version of St. Valentine's Day. It leads to some fun with Yuki having to arrange lines for the girls to give their favourite night class student a chocolate. However during it, you notice something about Zero as he seems to try and avoid Yuki, clearly distracted by her. When Yuki discovers some tablets which were designed to have blood inside them, two and two are beginning to pull together...
More explanation of the types of vampires are explored, such as the Level E type, weak vampires who were formerly humans - Yuki encounters one, but is saved unknowingly by Zero and then later by Kaname, demonstrated some incredible power. But it all leads to the big, if not really difficult reveal'that Zero is in fact a vampire. It appears Kaname knew of this beforehand, but at the same time was tolerant because if he was there, Yuki was safe. A vampire who hates other vampires and actually lives in the day dorms and has apparently been hiding these impulses for over 4 years, even vomiting up blood tablets supplied by Kaien. Zero eventually yields into his vampire impulses and bites Yuki's neck. I get the feeling there must be a reason why Yuki's blood is so tempting, as both the character Aido and Zero were only after her blood, and the scent of her blood when Zero bites her was way too tempting for the night class, before Kaname, the only one seemingly not strained by this, manages to calm them down.
The last episode begins to really delve into Zero's character, as Kaien and Kaname have had a talk about this before, he explains that Zero's family was killed by a pureblood vampire, Kaname also being a pureblood. Purebloods have the ability to turn humans into vampires, but will eventually descend into Level E's, leading to their destruction from humanity. Learning this, Zero demands that Yuki kills him, but she can't bare herself to do that. She also goes into the night dorm when learning that Kaname wants him transferred to the night class, and she gets confronted by Aido who wants to learn about the relationship between her and Kaname. There's a lot of story here which has barely began to touch the surface, and with a 13 episode anime (albeit with a sequel) you wonder if they will be able to tell it all.
What Vampire Knight does good, it does good. Its main strengths are the later half of the first disc, when exploring Zero's character. It's quite clear he is complex in more ways than one, being a vampire who kills other vampires, controlling his urges for 4 years, and wanting to kill himself after he learns his fate. Yuki as well is very interesting, being the peacemaker for both Kaname and Zero '" her blood being too tempting seems to be a sub-plot, so I get the feeling she is linked more deeply into this as well. The opening disc does well into drawing the audience into the crux and complexity of the main two characters, without making one outshine the other, and balancing them out quite well.
The first half tries to balance out the darkness with it's comedy, which seems to resolve around the character Aido and his subsequent beatings from Kaname, whether from drinking Yuki's blood, or simply being a comic stalker'to Kaname. The problem is that aside from Yuki and Zero, very few of the other characters are yet to be interesting enough to really care about them. Kaien has potential, part comic relief 'daddy' to Yuki and Zero, and part badass as he seems to know about the problems at the school, and has a history with Kaname. At the end of the first disc, there appears to be a new character which should be interesting where it goes, but the fact is that the third lead Kaname, is simply not yet interesting enough for fans to really root for him over Yuki and Zero if you wanted to pick a pairing. He seems too perfect, too strong, and you get the feeling that whilst there is more to him than meets the eye (especially the revelation that he's a pureblood), at the moment he's not someone you really care about. That being said, Vampire Knight has huge potential as various stories are opening up, and characters like Kaname, Kaien and the other vampires can definitely become more developed as long as the show continues on its way.
Vampire Knight is a good start. Whilst majorities of the cast are kind of brushed aside, and the comedy elements don't really fit in with the type of the show it's creating, it has immense potential. Already lots of little stories are mixing, the character of Zero is already very well developed and how Yuki deals with the new issues is definitely going to be quite interesting. Combined with an excellent release of audio and visual quality, and a plot waiting to explode, Vampire Knight is so far, so recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV '" Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers '" Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.