Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vampire Knight Guilty – review

dvdDirector: unknown

First aired: 2008

Contains spoilers

Vampire Knight Guilty is the second series, following on from Vampire Knight. We are back at the Cross Academy where the day time students are human and the night students are vampires (though none of them seem overly bothered by daylight, it has to be said).

We left off, at the end of the last series, with school prefect and son of slaughtered vampire hunters Zero (Mamoru Miyano), turning into a level E vampire – a human bitten and turned by a pureblood vampire who becomes a ravening beast. The only cure is for him to drink the blood of a pureblood – in this case the blood of Kaname Kuran (Daisuke Kishio), who is the night school president and his rival for the affections of his fellow prefect Yuki Cross (Yui Horie).

Shōjo anime elements are apparent early onThe first series was very much a Shōjo anime, in other words it is an anime aimed primarily at a female audience age approximately 10 to 18 but mostly the teen section of that demographic. Whilst those fan-girlish aspects were still evident at the head of this season they quickly vanished leaving us with a story that dripped in melodrama.

Kaname is a purebloodAs things progress through this season the plot begins to twist and turn like a twisty turny thing, with plots and counter plots, familial secrets and betrayals. There are incestual themes introduced and these are based heavily on the vampiric lore and it is within the lore backstory I found myself a little disappointed. We discovered in the first series that vampires could be split into three levels – the purebloods, the vampires who had human and pureblood ancestry, and level Es. To keep themselves pure it is not unknown for siblings in pureblood families to marry. Pureblood vampires, and this was a frustration, appeared at the point when humanity was on the edge of extinction… How? For what reason? We had a glimpse of a concept that was a throw away line and I wondered why we didn’t get more.

the night schoolBut these unexplored glimpses did not spoil the show for me, the frustration was minor. The action aspects of the series are sparse – even in the finale, compared to boy's animes at least – and it relies on plot and drama. The only problem with that is the dripping melodrama as the main characters become more and more devolved into a depressive cycle – can we say über-emo. However, if you can live with that then there is much to be gained plot wise.

chibi style still encroachesThe main animation is beautiful and, I felt, slightly more washed out in colour than the first season – adding a coldness to the animation that works rather well. There was, unfortunately, a continued use of chibi style that I still do not feel works in something that is pretty much comedy free – okay headmaster Kaien Cross (Hozumi Gôda) doubles as a comedy character but his antics are less apparent and we see more of him as the legendary vampire hunter he used to be.

Zero, one of the central charactersStrong drama, but overt melodrama might put some viewers off and the chibi style is misplaced to me. 6.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is, at time of review, for season 1 only but, for reference, can be found here.

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