Vampire Knight is a 13 episode shoujo anime about vampires, with the obvious splattering of romance featuring bishounen (beautiful boys). At a glance it looks like a typical shoujo anime and I was debating whether this was worth my time to watch. Since I’ve given shoujo a chance before, I decided to give it a go. Crucially, the story seemed initially predictable, but was this worth the watch?
I know this anime is available in 720p, though I got the dual audio version due to some high profile voice actors used. I did try it out in 720p and it looked much better. Goes to show what something as simple as HD resolutions can do. I was honestly tempted to scrap the dual-audio and watch it in nice HD. But I something to explore between both of the audio options and animation quality isn’t the most important thing for an anime. Especially as the last anime I watched had worse visual fidelity, yet it still managed to be a great anime to watch due to the other factors.
As for the animation style, while it didn’t look like the average general anime, the style looked run of the mill as far as shoujo anime is concerned. The female lead and the trademark bishounen all had ‘sparkly’ eyes, the bishounen/pretty boys looked androgynous and the female lead was a dark haired girl with a petite body, so that Japanese girls would be able to relate to her/imagine themselves in her shoes. Also the female lead had unrealistically large eyes, which actually detracts from the ability to relate. I can’t complain much about the animation style, since I don’t watch many shoujo anime, but it wasn’t as over the top as other shoujo anime I’ve seen. Yet the last shoujo anime I watched (actually the last anime I watched) managed to portray a romantic story without any of this androgynous ‘pretty boy’ nonsense style.
Being a shoujo anime, there’s no fan-service in the traditional sense (slutty girls), especially since the only cast of actual female characters is small and is mainly just the lead, who has the figure of a normal teenage girl so she can be associable. There is mild man service, one particular pretty boy was topless quite a bit in the first few episodes. But get this… and I found this funny, there’s no such thing as nipples. That lack of realism also put me off a bit, it was weird looking a topless guy with no nipples. While usually the mannequin effect is a good thing, effectively preventing nudity on topless chicks and preventing full-frontal nudity on both genders when used, here it just feels wrong. Why can’t a guy have his nipples? Oh and there’s plenty of blood, since this is a vampire anime. At least they do that properly, people don’t bleed sparkly stars or pink blood here.
The intro music didn’t stand out as amazing, but it wasn’t bad either. Now the outro seemed suitably creepy for a vampire anime. It reminded me of the intro to Another. There’s even some appropriate creepy imagery to support it. The music in the anime itself didn’t stand out much. It’s just the typical creepy music associated with vampire media and a few other things.
This anime is available in both English and Japanese. I was going to get it in Japanese-only, since the last dubbed shoujo I watched was terrible, though that anime was just terrible regardless of the audio. But then I saw the cast of English voice actors, they’ve got some well-known and high-profile folk here. Thus I had the expectation that they’d perform as amazingly as they do in other anime. Well then let this anime be a lesson that getting good voice actors doesn’t make good anime/vocals all of the time. It could have just been the overall atmosphere of the anime and the visual quality (DA was only 480p) that primed me with negative options, but it felt off. It is also possibly due to the mix of voice actors as two of the main characters are voiced by unfamiliar folks who don’t have much experience. Yuki especially sounded a bit off. Perhaps stick with the Japanese with this one, don’t always be tempted by the good names like Vic Mignogna and Troy Baker. Or perhaps that’s just my opinion and you might like the dub.
Without further ado, the English cast. Yuki is voiced by Mela Lee (Yui Horie in the Japanese version), who also voiced Rin Tohsaka in the Fate series, Darry Adai in Gurren Lagann and a few minor roles. Kaname is voiced by Ethan Murray, who’s only other interesting role is Mao in Code Geass. Zero is voiced by the aforementioned Vic Mignogna, the voice of Yukito/Sora in Air, Broly in DBZ, immediately recognised as Edward Elric in FMA, Spirit Albarn (Maka’s dad) in Soul Eater, Fay in Tsubasa Chronicle and Ryouta Iijima in Yumekui (Dream Eater) Merry. Akatsuki’s voice was recognised as Troy Baker, who voiced Schniezel in Code Geass, November in Darker than Black, Frank Archer in FMA/Greed in FMA Brotherhood, Excalibur/White Star in Soul Eater, Kusanagu Shiyu/Dr Kyle Rondart in Tsubasa Chronicle and Count Kinkell in Tsukuyomi Moon Phase. Of course I must mention he was Booker in Bioshock Infinite and Ocelot in the upcoming MGS5. I must mention Laura Bailey (Lust in FMA/Maka in Soul Eater) voicing Maria Kurenai, Carrie Savage (Mokona in Tsubasa Chronicle/XXXHOLiC) as Rima Touya, Wendee Lee (Bulma in DBZ) as Shizuka Hio and of course Spike Spencer (Shinji Ikari in Evangelion) as Takuma Ichijo. Good cast of voice actors, bar two of the mainest characters, who don’t seem experienced.
The main protagonist in this shoujo anime is Yuki Cross, a teenage girl who attends a mixed school for vampires and normal humans. As a member of the disciplinary committee from the day class, it is up to her to keep the peace at school, prevent the truth about the night class being vampires from being exposed and to control the hordes of fan-girls who seem to desperately want the boys from the night class. She seems to be useless with her signature weapon, a long stave. The backstory is revealed right at the start, she had no memory of who she was or who her parents were and was attacked by an evil vampire as a child. She was rescued by Kaname and became attached to him as a result, she feels indebted to him for saving her life. Afterwards she was adopted and named by Kaien Cross. She’s a fairly normal girl, and I mean normal, no unrealistic body or anything. The same goes for her behaviour, she’s used to being around vampires, but she still seems to admire Kaname. Being in with the night class students also garners jealousy from the other girls of the day class. She’s also very concerned about Zero and there-in a faint love triangle appears.
Kaname Kuron (pronounced Ka-na-meh) is a vampire student of unknown age and dorm president (essentially student council president) of the night class. He is a pureblood vampire, descended from one of two families of purebloods. These pureblood vampires are feared by other vampires due to their superior commanding presence and powers. This includes the ability to exert their wishes and control other vampires, which Kaname never needs to use and also turn humans into vampires when bitten. But most of all, purebloods are vampires of vampires, they seem to exclusively drink the blood of other vampires, this might have something to do with maintaining the purity of their bloodline. He is referred to by other vampires as Lord Kaname, to indicate their respect and subservience out of free will for him. Like every other vampire in this anime, Kaname is perfect, he has good (but androgynous) looks, he’s smart, he comes from a rich and noble family, etc. The good thing is that Kaname is a sensible individual wanting to keep the peace at Cross academy. Thus he will berate other vampires for bad behaviour and keeps them in line. He has also known Kaien Cross for a long time, who has left him in charge of the vampire students due to his pureblood status. He doesn’t get along with Zero.
Zero Kiryu is a teenage boy and a student of the day class. He is the other member of the disciplinary committee, along with Yuki, especially since he comes from a distinguished family of vampire hunters. When he was living with his family, he and his brother were often under the care of another renowned vampire hunter, Touya Yagari, who was their mentor. His backstory is also revealed early, he was the sole survivor of a vampire attack on his family, having been bitten, which is a partial reason for his hate towards vampires (as well as the fact that his family are vampire hunters and hate vampires anyway). He is supposed to be hiding a big secret, but this is very obvious to the viewers, the vampire that bit him was a pureblood, thereby turning him into a vampire. He is tormented by this, keeping distant from Yuki since he fears he may attack her for her blood. He obviously likes her, but hates how close she is to Kaname. Kaien and Kaname know this secret, while Yuki is kept in the dark about it. He doesn’t get along with the vampires who don’t know about him being a vampire too, his signature weapon is a pistol of vampire-slaying he keeps chained to his jacket. He is driven by revenge to kill the vampire that destroyed his life.
Other characters aren’t as important. Kaien Cross is Yuki’s adoptive father, who is also the headmaster and founder of Cross academy. He acts childish and always fails to get Yuki to call him dad/father. He wishes for a world where vampires and humans can peacefully co-exist, thus he starts with Cross academy. Touga Yagari appears later and becomes an ethics teacher at the academy, he also doesn’t get along with vampires since he is a vampire hunter. He lost his eye to a vampire attack. All students of the night class are from noble vampire families. Takuma Ichijo is Kaname’s best friend and his vice president as a student of the night class. He serves Kaname by running errands concerning the night class and his grandfather wishes to use him to get close to Kaname. Ruka Souen is a girl of the night class who has unrequited love for Kaname. Akatsuki Kain is a somewhat stoic guy in the night class, he is often found supporting his best friend Hanabusa. Hanabusa is the school idol and a student of the night class. He’s reckless and likes to joke around, he’s slightly aggressive, often picking fights with Zero and obedient and defensive towards Kaname. He also is aggressive in that he tried to drink the blood of day class students, since he doesn’t like the blood tablets. Senri Shiki and Rima Touya are students of the night class who are best friends and happen to be models. Maria Kurenai is a sickly girl who transfers into the night class and is disliked by everyone due to her disregard for the rules and creepiness.
In cross academy, there are two groups of students. The normal human students are the day class, while the night class consists of the rather nocturnal vampire students. For safety reasons and because the consumption of human blood is forbidden on school grounds, they are not allowed to mix and this is enforced by the disciplinary committee and Kaname. The vampires have an abundance of charm, thus most of the girls of the day class fancy the various boys of the night class. These students are also unaware that the night class are all vampires and are generally unaware of the existence of vampires, bar a few essential cast. The vampires take blood tablets, an artificial blood substitute designed to quench the vampire’s thirst for blood. Though as mentioned, there can be vampires with whom the blood tablets do not work.
My first complaint about the story is how predictable it is, they try very badly to hide things and make it interesting, yet the fact that Zero is a vampire is as obvious as day. Not much really happens in the first half of the anime, bar some tension between Zero, the vampires, the introduced Touga and Yuki. Then there’s the whole romance thing, not only is it a love-triangle, but then Ruka also loves Kaname. In the second half, the mysterious Maria Kurenai is introduced and brings a whole lot of problems with her. Zero’s revenge story gets explored a bit more. Overall, it wasn’t all that amazing, it didn’t invoke any emotion or though from me.
It may just be the fact that I’m not the intended audience for this anime, but it didn’t stand out as worth watching. But it also wasn’t completely terrible either, a great deal of shounen anime is a lot worse than this anime. The most important thing were the characters and story and they just weren’t that interesting. Outside of some predictable things, the story didn’t progress in an obviously manner. It felt to me like nothing happened. But not like harem anime, at least this shoujo anime has a plot. Thus I’ll only recommend this anime to fans of shoujo and vampires, who can tolerate a slightly predictable story. Fans of pretty boys may be upset at the lack of man-nipples. I thought only girl nipples were rated mature and not allowed to be shown in most anime. I guess man nipples are the same in shoujo?
Family-friendliness Rating: 2/5 Man-service, minus nipples via the mannequin effect (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 6.5/10 (higher is better)
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