The third disc improves a bit with a return to more emphasis on Kaname, Yuki and Zero, with Zero in particular getting a real fleshing out as revelations come out which end in a legit epic cliffhanger...
What They Say
The students at the prestigious Cross Academy live between two worlds - the human Day Class and the vampire Night Class! Human Yuki Cross serves as a Guardian protecting the classes from each other, while her friend Zero has just transferred to the Night Class, doomed to a life of bloodlust as a newborn vampire!
After being sent on his first mission as an official vampire hunter, Zero must now face the mysterious appearance of Maria, a new student at the school who looks all too similar to the vampire who turned him! But as Zero starts descending into a terrible madness, Maria offers Yuki a choice - surrender her powerful blood or watch her friend slip into sanity...
Can Yuki find a way to save Zero? Find out in the third exciting volume of Vampire Knight!
For this disc and the upcoming 4th disc, I will review one in English and one in Japanese, and went with English for this one. Again, can't fault this release in terms of sound, the 5.1 for all to hear is superb and there were no problems for audio transition in combination with the visuals and the subtitles, and making it a near flawless audio piece, helped more so with some exciting scenes (particularly in episode 10) to really showcase the power that threatened to split my speakers.
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. No problems with the subtitles in correlation to the audio, and the animation with this combination of screen effects (the ball shots are simple for example, but drawn and showcased superbly) without any disturbances I noticed make it for a top quality release. 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 the same as discs 1 and 2, 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.
Vampire Knight has been an up and down series so far, especially as I've been a fan of the manga '" at times it's really strong and gives some emotional scenes, but other times it's either been rather boring, or they stretch the focus out of the main characters to make you care about other things going on, when it's doing the reverse. Fortunately, this disc seems to begin to pull it back to what it should have been, discussing the world through the eyes of Kaname and Zero, and manages to pull a pretty cool episode at the end with some real surprises'
Episode 8 focuses on Kaname who seems to be in a depressed mood and not exactly wanting visitors after his altercation with Zero. It doesn't help that it's revealed a member of the Vampire Council, Takuma's grandfather plans to visit the Academy.
Who in turn tries to drink Kaname's blood.
Two of the more seen vampires that aren't our leads, Aido (the Kaname fan) and Ruka (the only really significant female vampire of note) manage to stop him, explaining the interesting fact that attempting to draw blood from a pureblood vampire is taboo. You can see Aido and Ruka easily becoming the more interesting of the side characters due to their interesting takes of devotion to Kaname '" Aido is quite obvious about it, both as the comic relief and at times, the only true sane voice Kaname will listen to, whilst Ruka does appear to have a crush on Kaname, but silently seems to be realizing Kaname has some true interest in Yuki '" shown when she tries to offer Kaname her own blood. Ichijo like other characters doesn't seem to do much despite seemingly being an important figure, but it leads to Kaien getting to know him, and sending Zero out to hunt a Level E vampire. Yuki follows him, and more Night Class members also get involved, but whilst it seems Zero and Yuki are being relegated a bit, a girl watches them and announces she wants to get involved with Cross Academy...
...and that little girl suddenly makes the series the best it has been so far. The girl in question is named Maria Kurenai, a princess like girl who joins the Night Class, who at first seems just like a minx, her upfrontness with Kaname in particular surprises the team. However, Aido (who is slowly becoming my favourite character) is the one who notices she resembles another woman'one who was briefly mentioned in the previous disc, a vampire woman named Shizuka Hio'the one who murdered Zero's parents'and coincidentally the day Maria transferred in, Zero dreams about her...
Whilst all this is going on, a ball is being arranged where students of both the Day and Night Class which causes a lot of excitement for the Day class, but the real excitement is when Zero meets with Maria. Zero is scared of her uncanny resemblance that he instinctively points his gun at her, but is caught in two minds'Aido again is the one who brings the surprise when Zero is wondering if Maria is Shizuka, when Aido points out the blood bond term in connection with each other. And with Maria seemingly getting a more delicious interest in Yuki...
The final episode of the disc however finally ends on a note not only bringing stuff together, but making the show truly good to watch. We get a flashback to Zero's past, and about his brother Ichiru who he didn't know if he escaped Shizuka. Coupled with Maria entering the academy and her interest in Yuki, Zero is doubly concerned, and his closeness with Yuki is explored to a point that she is his reason to live, just simple things like helping Yuki to study is enough for him. One thing I like about Vampire Knight is that they haven't really explored anything romantically with Yuki either between Zero or Kaname, as she seems to be part of a bigger jigsaw puzzle, (Yagari even mentions in this ep to Kaien that he doesn't understand why Kaname is so kind to Yuki, which definitely suggests something major) so she is like a forbidden fruit that is tempting both men, who are just content to watch from afar, or just sample the jam, whether it's erasing her memory or trying to avoid drinking her blood. Kaname confronts Maria, which leads to Zero attempting to fight Maria, but is unable to attack her. Maria unlocks Yuki's memory of Zero's fight, and offers to save Zero from becoming a Level E if she helps her. However, the big finale showcases that Shizuka is a pure blood, and finds the shocking final piece of the puzzle between Shizuka and his brother...
The big climax at the end I knew because of the manga, but it's the first time I felt the anime really hit the mark in comparison because it told the story wonderfully. The addition of Maria was a real spark because it doesn't become obvious of who/what she truly is, and her messing with the minds (in particular Zero's) combined with Kaname's involvement with her is really something, because it showcases that Kaname is interested in Zero, but whether it's hate over Yuki or something more suggests there is plenty more of the story to come. The biggest enigma though is still Yuki, because whilst she didn't play a vital point in the story, her character is still figured into the plotline simply because she is literally in between both Kaname and Zero and we don't know what her role is. The biggest surprise however is that Aido was such a focal point in being Kaname's foil/fanboy/protector. He genuinely seems to see what is going on between Kaname and Zero (and even showed hints of that in disc 1 with his confrontation with Yuki) so whilst the focus on the main characters can be a bit sporadic, Aido's character in this disc was surprisingly welcome.
My main problem is still the fact Vampire Knight is throwing so much at us that a lot gets lost in the pile. The fact that Kaien got barely a mention, Yagari is still pretty much forgotten, and then hit us with a ball which seems to have eventually little consequence and then add Maria with the Level E plot, it can be quite confusing. Fortunately, the end of the disc does somehow manage to fit everything in quite well, and with the Shizuka arc with the big plot involving Ichiro, Zero's brother in a literal hangover means that this time, I'm really looking forward to the final disc.
Vampire Knight 3 is the best of the bunch so far. Whilst there are still problems regarding the lack of characterization outside the main three (Aido being a welcome exception), it manages to get around this by managing to get all the plots together and manage to unleash it into a gripping cliffhanger. The comedy is limited but at least the story is now becoming way more interesting and the promise of some true action combined with the revelation about Ichiro and what Maria really is and how she relates to Shizuka seems to showcase that the ending will be interesting. Still some doubts, but Vampire Knight is slowly becoming rewarding.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 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.