Built upon a sturdy foundation of shoujo clichés and pretty animation, Vampire Knight Guilty is a lot of fun without being particularly elegant. Moreover, as the second instalment in a successful dark shoujo series, it brings the story of mysterious vampires and tragic love to an agreeable conclusion.
For most, VKG’s main attraction will always be its contrivances, clichés, and ham-handed delivery of the romance. Consider the corniest scene involving vampires possible (OMG he licked her neck! *squeal*), then set it to repeat across several episodes. Throw in hints of homoeroticism for extra tang and some half-baked lore, and VKG gives the impression that it’s not so much animated as churned. Indeed, the series makes no claim to originality or wit, but it manages its cheese surprisingly well, and, on balance, turns out to be more interesting than irksome.
Nevertheless, buried amongst all the silly love triangle stuff, there’s still that core of well-executed mystery keeping the story afloat. Crucially, VKG knits together much of the political threads left hanging by the first season: after lurking in the shadows so long, the Vampire Council finally takes centre stage, as does a newly kick-arse Headmaster Cross, and Kaname’s true intentions become clear in a gasp-worthy twist.
One true disappointment, however, is that, despite wishing to portray a violent clash between the various factions, VKG’s battles look and feel anything but. The static sequences are usually over before they’ve begun, and attempts at spicing things up with flashy gimmicks just look forced. Even the finale can’t escape this flat-lining of tension as everything generally happens too fast and too easily.
As a final note, ardent fans of the manga should brace themselves for a slight but significant reinterpretation of Zero at the end. No doubt, it will send a few spitting in rage.
Like Vampire Knight, VKG looks very pretty, with lush colours and attractive character designs perfectly catered towards the shoujo lovers. Regrettably, it also adopts VK’s disregard for movement. While VK is predominantly drama-based, VKG relies on fighting sequences during some of its climactic moments; the insufficient number of frames, straightforward camera angles, and uninventive choreography, therefore, only lessen their impact.
The cheap pop opening and closing themes add nothing to VKG’s charm. The score, on the other hand, though mostly generic (aimless tinkering on a piano, queer string instrumentals, that kind of thing), still holds one or two surprises. The most useful additions include the sound effects subtly used to heighten the spooky ambience; for example, the sudden rush of cymbals during particularly tense exchanges goes a little way to enrich the viewing experience.
With fewer comedic scenes to add colour to Yuuki’s personality, the effects of her clueless vulnerability and passive nature leap from uninspiring to outright disgusting. Taking the initiative and driving the story on her own merits is certainly beyond her as she stutters and sighs her way through every conversation. Most irritatingly, she’s the kind of contradictory character who speaks of saving others whilst constantly needing protection herself.
As such, providing entertainment falls to Kaname and Zero. While Kaname wields his mysteriousness like an expert by throwing a dark and truly unexpected spanner in the works, Zero escalates his catalogue moping (seemingly, just because he can). Neither ventures from his archetypal pigeon hole, but both remain engaging, nonetheless, because of their anguished backgrounds.
The other good news is that Kaname’s previously nameless hangers-on get fleshed out and become more relevant to the plot. In particular, I find the exploration of Aidou’s friendship with Kaname to be an interesting addition to the character development.
VKG will prove the perfect fix for fans addicted to a sugary diet of bishies, immature angst, and romanticised horror themes; competent central mystery aside, those elements are its forte. For anyone looking for substance and/or action, however, the show will leave a distinct ‘Is that it?’ feeling as anticlimactic fight scenes and an insipid cast dog the plot. On the whole, VKG may not feel as fresh and exciting as its predecessor, but it remains at all times a fun and easy romp to follow.
Having recovered from the injuries he had sustained, Zero returns to Cross Academy to resume his role as prefect. Though, not long after he resumes his role, members of the Supreme Vampire Council ambush Zero with the intent to execute him for the murder of the pureblood, Shizuka. Luckily when Kaname intervenes, he sends the council away and insists that they stay out of school affairs. However, whilst Kaname continues to hide the truth about Shizuka's death, there are others who grow suspicious of what happened that night and what the dorm president is hiding. Meanwhile, Yuuki begins to have flashbacks, leading her to investigate her blood-stained past: what will she find, and will she continue to be tempted by an offer from Kaname?
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