Vampire Knight. How so many love to hate you.
I have always been a fan of anime. Always. However, during my 20s, I was busy raising my child and kind of let my interest in anime fall to the wayside. I went a good decade without watching any anime.
My memory is pretty fuzzy, but it was around 2016-2017 when I started regaining interest in anime. At this point in my life, my son was in high school and with his ever-growing independence, I was able to start pursuing my own interests again. Vampire Knight was one of the first anime that jumped into for no other reason than it was available on Netflix.
My name is ChibiChonk and I love Vampire Knight.
If I had to summarize why that’s an unpopular opinion, it would be because it is a series that has two things that people seem to despise: Romance and Vampires.
Exhibit A is Twilight. Now, to be fair, Twilight is pure trash. I can say this. I have read all of the books, and indulged in all of the movies. The writing was very cringe-worthy, and it definitely ran true in the movies as well, but I still liked them. Why? Because I, like many, have a fascination, dare I say, attraction, to forbidden relationship stories. There is something exciting about falling in love with someone you shouldn’t. The amount of love you have to possess to fight such a huge obstacle is appealing to me, and I think, for a lot of people. It fulfills our basic needs of being wanted and needed, and that bothers some people. Like, really, really bothers some people.
The General Plot: Vampire Knight is considered a shojo anime. While most shojo anime follow very happy, flowery storylines, Vampire Knight goes down a much darker path. Vampire Knight follows our protagonist, Yuki Cross. She attends the mysterious Cross Academy and serves on the Disciplinary Committee with her adoptive brother, Zero. They are tasked with maintaining the peace between the “day class” and the “night class”. The “day class” is blissfully unaware that the “night class” they view as idols are actually vampires. The school goes to great lengths to maintain peace between humans and vampires. Standing at the head of the “night class” is pure-blood vampire, Kaname. Vampire Knight weaves a story of tragedies lining up to one very surprising reveal that might leave you a bit speechless. Woven in the budding love story, Vampire Knight introduces secret societies and devious plots that made this anime enjoyable to me.
POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW. DO NOT READ PAST THIS IF YOU WANT VAMPIRE KNIGHT TO REMAIN UNTARNISHED!
I’ve read quite a few reviews of this anime, and I feel many of them are being unfair to the anime and/or missing some crucial points. So, I thought I would pick some of the more widely occurring opinions and clarify my opinion on them.
Yuki is helpless and weak. I really take issue with this argument. When did it become mandatory for every female character to be strong? I find that totally ridiculous, because not everyone can be totally awesome all the time. I think we should tell stories inclusive of all walks of life and find the beauty in flaws. I can’t rightly accept the opinions of people that feel an anime is only good if the characters are overpowered and flawless. I actually like the fact that Yuki is clumsy and unable to fend for herself. I don’t see her character as making her a helpless woman. I see the juxtaposition between a human and a vampire. If you suddenly woke up in a world where vampires actually exist, male or female, you would be helpless and weak. If we take vampire lore to be true, only those who have trained diligently in the art of specifically hunting vampires wouldn’t be weak. Let that sink in for awhile. And, guess what? That is exactly what Vampire Knight does.
Yuki is annoying. I also take issue with this argument. When did it become mandatory for every protagonist to be likable? She is in high school. Enough said. All teenagers are annoying in their own way. Is it true? Yes. She did have some annoying qualities, but that made her feel more “real” to me. But, I get it. If your enjoyment is drawn from fantasy over being able to relate to the character, I get it. I just don’t agree. I can’t condemn a whole show because the main character is flawed.
I hate the art. Okay. I will NEVER in a million years understand this argument, either. Yes. Vampire Knight uses an older animation style. In fact, it is very close to the style the manga uses. To say you hate an anime solely based on the art style is asinine. If you don’t like the art style, I can understand that, but to judge the entire content of a show based on that style…I don’t get it. I have watched many a show where I very much disliked the animation style (Looking at you Dragon Ball Z), but never would I dismiss its content because it wasn’t “pretty” enough.
It’s the wrong kind of vampire. Wait. What?! I am putting this one out there because I was pretty dumbfounded. Gave the anime a 1 star review because it was the “wrong kind of vampire”. Excuse me? Basically, this person wanted a more sex-oriented vampire show. I want to go on the record and say this is not that kind of anime. If you’re looking for that kind of sex-charged blood feeding kind of show, check out Diabolik Lovers.
What did I like about Vampire Knight?
The love triangle. I was absolutely all about the love triangle. Generally speaking, shojo anime have a clear, cut winner and it is always NOT the childhood friend. Give me one anime where the childhood friend gets the girl. Name one. Like, seriously. Name one. I’d like to watch it. Leave it in the comments.
In all the anime I have watched, not one has had me as conflicted as Vampire Knight and that says something. Usually, we can tell that Potential Lover A is ill-suited for Protagonist because of X incompatibility. There is always this glaring flaw that leads us to accept that Potential Lover A and Protagonist, while suited for each other now, won’t be for long.
Yuki, Kaname, and Zero are so intertwined, it is hard to say which Yuki should choose. On one hand, she has loved Kaname her entire mortal life. We later find that she is actually Kaname’s sister, fiance, and a pureblood in dormancy. Before her memories were taken and given a mortal life, Kaname and Yuki made a promise to become lovers and continue their bloodline. While that type of relationship creeps people out, were are talking about fictional vampires here. Apparently, mating with your sibling is acceptable in the vampire world, so it doesn’t bother me. Sometimes, you have to accept the rules of their world and try not to pass judgment on their actions.
On the other hand, we have Zero, and I feel like he is also very well suited for Yuki. I feel like their love story is a mortal one. Their relationship is not based on some supernatural duty to procreate, or driven by blood lust. Her feelings developed for him organically and, honestly, the only thing getting in the way is this small matter of being a vampire.
In the end, she chooses Kaname.
How do I feel about that? Analyzing it from my point of view, I am Team Zero. Am I surprised she chose Kaname? Hell, no. They followed the typical “childhood friend” doom flag.
Why do I feel like Zero is the better choice? Their love came with no attachments, and I think that is what true love is. Kaname did a lot of shady things in the name of their love. Some might find that romantic, but I find it not very genuine. I feel like Kaname forced her to choose him. We learn that when vampires fall in love, their thirst can only be quenched by the one they love. I feel like Kaname/Yuki’s love is not pure based on this “physical need”. I try to keep the “Vampire Knight” glasses on and convince myself that is how it works in their world, but I can’t get passed the fact that physiology is responsible for their well being. That doesn’t sit right with me. They have no choice but to become dependent on each other.
One can argue that that physiological need is present with Zero and Yuki, but I still argue that their love is more pure.
Anyhow, thanks for reading. I hope you give Vampire Knight a fair shot if you’re into shojo manga/anime. Does it have its flaws. YES! I think all anime does because we all have different expectations. If you think you can get passed the dated animation style, the fact that the protagonist is a bit annoying and helpless, you might find the story a bit more compelling. Let me know if you’re Team Zero or Team Kaname in the comments!