Vampire Knight Overview:
One of the few anime I did read the manga of (at a friend’s insistence) Vampire Knight is the story of Yuki Cross who’s first memory is of snow and blood when her family were killed by vampires and she was saved by the vampire Kaname. Years pass and she now goes to school where the day class are human and the night class are vampires. Yuki, aided by Zero (her adopted brother) work to keep the classes separate and the fact that the night class are vampires a secret.
Vampire Knight Review:
While I accept that vampire stories and sex are more or less intrinsically linked, I think books like Twilight and Vampire Knight (the manga) have a lot to answer for in how they represent romance to teenagers. That said, I’m not one of those people who thinks things always have to have a positive message, I just find it really odd that some people read or watch these things and think they are romantic. These stories have a romance in them, but they actually end up coming off pretty creepy when you think about the context so the romantic factor gets shot in the foot pretty quick.
So Vampire Knight? It is one of those shows I think needs a reboot now that the manga is finished because you could certainly clean up a lot of the character and story issues now that they know where it is going.
Also, having rewatched Vampire Knight to do this review, the animation is kind of bad. This isn’t something I usually complain about but it was amazing how many times this anime relies on a still image with a pan rather than actual animation. While this does show off the very nice character designs, and fans of the manga know just how gorgeous these characters can look when allowed to pose, it actually makes for a pretty dull viewing experience a lot of the time.
Despite everything I’ve just said, I don’t actually dislike Vampire Knight as a story. Or rather as an introduction to a story. Much like Kaname spends a number of scenes in this first season staring at a chess board, the story itself is positioning the characters where they need to be. At times this leads to some awkward encounters and interactions but it does set up just the right amount of tension so that you know going into season 2 things are going to get explosive.
The main strength of the story is that it keeps the focus relatively tight on Yuki, Kaname and Zero as the love triangle at the centre of the story. While there are efforts to fill in other characters and organisations, these remain strictly background with the focus more on how those events impact on these three characters.
During Vampire Knight, the interactions between Zero and Yuki are really great to watch, even if I want to slap Yuki a lot of the time for some of her assumptions and feeling guilty about every single thing. Zero isn’t the best character ever written, but he is emotionally hamstrung by having watched his family die and is now turning into a vampire when he was trained to be a vampire hunter. So his angst is actually relatively understandable, more so than Yuki’s happy go lucky attitude she insists on putting forward even though inside she’s just a pit of hopeless despair.
Unfortunately the interactions between Kaname and Yuki aren’t so impressive. I get the show wants us to want these two together but he keeps Yuki at arms length most of the time and then gets jealous and possessive at others. His actions force her to distrust him and then he gets annoyed that she doesn’t trust him.
Amazingly enough when you don’t communicate and sit around and brood a lot, relationships don’t exactly work out easily which is a bit of an issue when it is a cornerstone for the plot of Vampire Knight. I know a lot of people will disagree but by the end of season 1 I’d really rather Yuki told Kaname where to go and headed off with Zero.
So yes, watching this you are in for a lot of teenage angst and the wondering if the choice they made was right and staring wistfully at the profile or back of the character they like and if you aren’t up for that Vampire Knight is not going to be your thing. Because basically everything else in this story falls flat.
The Chairman, (Yuki and Zero’s adopted father) acts a complete fool 90% of the time and is an irritant given he’s the one who set up the ridiculous school system. There’s enough moments in the show that point to him having a more serious side but we aren’t getting to see that in season 1 so basically he is a throw away character who seems to exist only to annoy Zero and cry when Yuki doesn’t call him father.
The rest of the vampires all have a serious Kaname fan club going on, and while this is explained, it means that their personalities are pretty fixed which makes them less than amazing characters in Vampire Knight. Someone touches Kaname they get super defensive. Zero says something to Kaname, they gather to go pick a fight but then walk away because actually having a fight would be lame.
Ruka gets a little bit of development as she pours out an unrequited love for Kaname but that’s a very minor side story and Aidou gets to be a complete pain in the neck as he regularly over steps the rules mostly so Kaname can show how cool he is in settling things down, but again this isn’t really a focus point and mostly makes Aidou look like an idiot.
Even the idea that Yuki and Zero are guardians in the school is kind of a throw away plot line to explain why they are wandering around at all hours and not abiding by a sensible curfew. While Zero can fight due to his hunter training, he isn’t really interested in looking out for the interests of the school and regularly exacerbates issues between the vampires or stirs up the day class with his cold attitude.
Yuki on the other hand is useless for pretty much Vampire Knight’s entire run. She has a weapon (Artemis) but in season 1, the three times she draws it she pretty much never actually hits a vampire and almost always has the weapon either taken away from her or drops it. About the only purpose Yuki actually serves outside of the romance is bait because every time she steps outside she literally gets attacked by a vampire. Again, this plot point will be explained later, but it makes for a really silly story during the early stages where you just feel like she has to have some sort of vampire magnet attached to her.
Before I finish though, a point needs to be made that the opening and ending themes to season 1 of this show are fantastic. Definitely exactly what the show needed and they keep you hooked. While the animation of the show is less than impressive, the visuals themselves are really detailed with repeated visual motifs to be found and plenty of other interesting details and symbolism if you pay attention. Plus, the colour scheme works really well for the show.
Basically, if you don’t mind watching three teenagers in a love triangle with the occasional vampire attack thrown in and some back story about a school trying to build peace between humans and vampires, you will probably find a lot to enjoy here. It is strictly set up for the events of season 2, but it paints an interesting picture of the characters and sketches in the world they live in enough to keep you on board for the story.
While not my favourite story by a long shot, I don’t mind the occasional rewatch of this, though part of me still wishes that Zero would actually use his gun on some of the vampire students earlier in the show.
I’d love to know your thoughts on Vampire Knight if you’ve watched it and hopefully you will check out my review of season 2 out later this week.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
29 thoughts on “Vampire Knight Series Review: Tortured Teen Love Triangle With Fangs”
I do have a little soft spot for Vampire Knight, mainly because of Zero and my teenage love for him when I watched it many years ago. But now I’m older I completely agree with all your points!
This show definitely hits a spot with teenage girls. I was probably too old even when I saw it the first time to really appreciate the drama of it all.
Definitely agree about the OP.
It’s been years since I’ve seen any of Vampire Knight, but most of my memories involve Yuki looking like she’s just staring cluelessly into space.
That sounds about right.
Yuki was THE worse. I can’t take it. But I did like this anime. One of my guilty pleasures hahah
I wonder if there are any Yuki fans out there. I know there are Zero and Kaname fans, but does anyone like Yuki?
I never met anyone that liked Yuki. Even my sister watched his and said she hated her. Zero was my favorite. The other vampires were pretty cool too. I kind of didn’t care too much for Kaname. He was just really cute haha
I agree. I liked Zero in this first season though Kaname was better looking. Though, by the end of season 2 Zero had definitely worn through some of my patience.
Yes, I agree he was getting kind of depressing in the second season
So Twilight without the werewolves?
Vampire hunters but no werewolves. And yeah, pretty much.
I recently said that I came to the startling conclusion that besides Castlevania, I have never actually watched an anime that involved Vampires. I sometimes feel like I’m the worst animefan ever 😢
Don’t really know if this is the one I would start out with to correct that flaw, but it does sound pretty interesting despite some of the flaws. As always, great review 😊
Go with Shiki if you want to do anime vampires or Owari no Seraph. Both have flaws but do vampires very well .
Thanks so much for the recommendations 😊
I just want to say that I love your title! Gave me a good chuckle. I keep starting and stopping this anime. I think I’m about halfway through… Not really sure. I kept hearing about how amazing it is but I agree with what you are saying. It seemed like they couldn’t focus on a plot.
Vampire Knight fans are serious about their Vampire Knight and I do agree the characters look very good so if that is what you were after in a story this show has you covered. However, the plot is very repetitive in this first season with Kaname doing something mysterious, Zero brooding and Yuki just feeling guilty about everything and wanting to help which usually ends up with a vampire attacking her and someone needing to come to the rescue.
Yay anime Twilight lol
More or less a suitable description of it. Yuki is more interesting than Bella though, even if I did want to slap her occasionally.
I completely agree with your review. It’s a very… well, disorganized story for the lack of a better word…
Maybe it was just overly ambitious with the number of things it tried to have going on in the background when really it just wanted to focus on good looking vampire boys.
I watched this anime some years ago aand I don’t remember a lot, but from what I can remember I agree with you (overmost with the wanting to slap Yuki from time to time! 😉 ) but I never read the manga… maybe I would read it, sooner or later 🙂
The manga is at least finished and it isn’t excessively long so it can actually be read fairly quickly (about the only reason I agreed to read it given my disdain for this type of story and my general dislike of reading manga was because my friend showed up with the set in a bag and forced them on me and I realised I could probably knock the whole thing off in one weekend). I kind of enjoyed it (though I won’t tell her that) and it did clarify a few things I found a bit odd in the anime. It also actually ends the story which is something season 2 of this doesn’t quite manage.