Matsuri Hino: Vampire Knight

Wow, Vampire Knight. I don’t think there’s a Shoujomanga I’ve heared so much about and it was always positive. People seem to love the manga to pieces, even before Twilight became an instant hit, this manga had a huge fanbase and for a long time I was interested in it, but never read it. That is, until I was searching for a good shojomanga and tought: “Let’s try Vampire Knight.” I really wanted to see if it’s as good as so many people say. I wanted to see, if it can live up to it’s praise.

It can not.

I fought myself through 15 chapters, until I gave up. 15  chapters… that’s a little more than 3 volumes and adds up to something around 500 pages, so don’t kill me because it doesn’t sound much, it’s a monthly manga and has long chapters. So… well, I would love to say that it was physically painful and it actually would have been, if the boredom wouldn’t have made me so sleepy that I actually forgot about the painfulness.
I’ll ripp this manga apart: the story, the art, the characters, the enjoyment and at the very end I’ll talk about my overall opinion and let me spoil you: it’s not going to be good. I’m reviewing this, because for a change I wanted to review something that I don’t like and Vampire Knight is such a good manga to do so, because everyone else seems to like it. I can take my sweet time to dig up every single part of this manga I don’t like, to show you the exact reason why I hate this manga so much.

Story
First of all, let’s see what the description on MyAnimeList.net says about the story of this misfurtune of a manga. The setting and the main characters are described, but that’s not the story. This is what acutally is being said about the story: “Can vampires and humans co-exist, even in the strict setup of the Cross Academy? Only time will tell.” So, MAL makes me want to believe, that this manga is actually about the problem of humans and vampires living together without killing each other.
Okay… So much about this. In the 15 chapters I’ve read, the whole human/vampire living together-thing is not really the key to this manga. It’s more an excuse to create a love triangle between 3 vampires. The purpose of this “story”, is just to create an opportunity for the main characters to meet. Considering all of our main characters will be vampires at some point, the human/vampire-problem is a complete waste of time.
From my point of view, the key in this story is this: two guys want the same girl and everything around it is just decoration. A lot of points regarding the school just don’t make sense. It’s full of plot-holes. For example: one guy and one tiny girl are supposed to keep a whole school of crazy fans in control? Fans so desperate they’re willing to climb up a wall to give chocolate to someone a few hours earlier than they’re allowed to. A whole school full of idiots like that and two first year students are supposed to keep those crazy idiots in place. I really don’t understand how that’s supposed to work, but apparently it does and it’s completely beyond my understanding.
Also, there are some explanations that turn out to be a complete waste of pages. Zeros tattoo on his neck can stop him when he runs wild. The principal explains Yuki how it works and gives her the necessary ring to use it. It’s just that she never uses it! It’s like: “OMG, he’s running wild and is attacking me, I’m so afraid! … *exposes neck* COME ON! BITE ME!” She doesn’t use this way to “tame” him, but instead agrees to let him feed on her pretty quickly, so this method of stopping him is of no use at all.

Another problem this manga has is, as simple as the story is, it’s too predictable. This doesn’t just include obvious things like… Yuki being told she shouldn’t go to the vampire-dorm alone and two pages later this is exactly what she does, so Zero rushes by her side to rescue her. It also includes major plot points like Zeros transformation into a vampire. His whole family has been killed by a noble vampire, apparently the only vampires who can turn humans into vampires. I still think this is just an excuse so Zero can feed on Yuki without the risk of turning her into a vampire by accident, although that’s impossible, because she already is one. Netherless, the possibility that he survived this incident without a scratch is pretty much below 1% or so? I mean: his family has been killed, every single person. He’s been covered in blood, but hasn’t even the smallest scratch? Sure…
Turning Zero into a vampire is a pretty bad idea in terms of the story and character development. We’re going to talk about the characters later, so this’ll have to wait. About the plot: now, both of Yukis possible love interest are immortal vampires and a romance between a human Yuki and a vampire has to overcome two major problems: 1) Yuki, and her super-special-blood that makes vampires surround her like flies surround a pile of shit. Going out with a vampire would mean being in contact with the vampire-society on a constand basis, resulting in the constant danger of being bitten. 2) She will die of age, leaving her partner to moan over her all eternity. We’re a shoujomanga, we can’t do that. Conclusion: She has to be tunrned into a vampire by some point, or is already one. Simple as that.

And while we’re at it: Matsuri Hino isn’t really concerned about hiding the fact that Yuki is a vampire. In chapter one, she breaks the pricipals desk in two by slamming her hands on it while angrily complaining about something. No average human girl ist THIS stong. Thanks for telling your readers probably the most important plot-twist in the first chapter. This way, Yuki is pretty much introduced as a vampire.

Another plotpoint I really don’t like is the fact that vampires get stronger if they drink the blood of a more noble vampire, because this explanation, together with Yukis super-special b lood, are also a slap in the face to “hint” Yuki is a vampire. Good grief, foreshadowing? You’re doing it wrong! You fail! It’s so easy to see, when it’s discovered Yuki is a vampire, it’s even a surprise anymore. In fact, I’ve only read 15 chapters, this fact hasn’t been exposed yet. This is bad.

You know, from my point of view, it would’ve been much better when the story would’ve really involved the problem of vampires and humans living peacefully together as it’s main plotpoint. Another idea I’m interested in would’ve been the human boy who has to fight against the superior vampire in his love for the girl, winning her over in the end although all odds are against him. Cliché? Yes, but still better than 2 vampires fighting over the 3rd one.

Art
There’s not this much to say about, because it’s actually pretty decent, I just don’t like it this much. The faces look flat and the eyes are ugly as hell. The main problem is that Matsuri Hino seems to have problems when it comes to vary different characters outlook appreance. Or in other worlds: Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the characters aparat. This seems to be a problem in general, but especially when it comes to the vampires. They’re all exeptional goodlooking, that’s nice and helps to hunt humans. This is the reason they’re goodlooking, but this doesn’t explain why most of them are blonde, although they still seem to be Asian. This also doesn’t explain why it seems there’s one pattern of how a goodlooking guy has to look like, so every other goodlooking guy has the same outlook appreance.
All the guys with blonde, curvy hair look exactly the same. The only way to tell them apart, is reading the text and hoping somebody is calling them by their names. Luckily, this is pretty often the case, but it really annoys me I have to guess who’s the character in front of me until someone finally tells me his name.
I’m nitpicking a bit, but I think the curvy hair is ugly drawn. Kaname constantly looks like he doesn’t wash his hair resulting in a greasy appreance.

And… I don’t like the backgrounds.

Characters
Well, first of all, besides the three main characters the rest of the cast is pretty much useless. We have the vampire slayer, who might become somewhat important and we have the principal, but that’s it. Everyone else is exchangeable and the characters who’re important, are extreamly stereotypical.
Yuki, she’s your shoujo-stereotype: the cute, small girl, who’s incredible naive and not really smart. She tries to change the word and believes in the good nature of vampires. She seems to be strong-willed, but when it comes down to it, she just does what the male tells her to do. She has the childhood-friend who’s in love with her and the mysterious guy who’s also in love with her, whom she has a crush on herself, but doesn’t know about his feelings. She has this big secret about being a vampire and doesn’t even know about it herself, resulting in a tragic past or something like this (the tragic past is actually just a guess).

She’s so annoying! *headdesk* Her belief in the good nature of vampires is beyond everything and she’s too naive to understand what’s going on around her. She doesn’t really think about the trouble she causes by her actions and has to be rescued all the time, while she is actually the one who has to play guardian for other students. Yeah, because you can’t even protect yourself, you can protect other persons. She’s too good-natured and stupid like bread. Why are those hot guys having a crush on her again? I seriously can’t understand why… I highly suggest the only point where she has to go through some character development, is when she learns that she’s a vampire and has to handle the situation. She was pretty cool about Zero being a vampire, pretty much accepting it on the spot… “You just turned into a bloodsucking monster who can’t control his desires, but who cares? Vampires are nice beings after all and all I have to do is letting you suck my blood.” Stupid bitch.

Then there are Kaname and Zero, who’re also walking clichés, like I already said: childhood friend and mysterious guy. While discussing the story, I’ve said that Zeros transformation into a vampire is also negative in terms of characters. The point is: as long as he’s a human, Kaname is superior to him in pertty much every aspect. He’s stronger, he’s more dangerous, he has more influence, he’s noble, you know the rest. He’s Mr. perfect. If Zero stays human, he has to overcome his weaknesses as a human to “fight” him equally and this requires a huge amount of character development, including excepting a hated vampire as a superior being, respecting him, but at the same time acknowledging him as an equal when it comes to love. Right now, all he does is looking down on vampires as brutal monsters.
By turning him into a vampire, he’s not equal to Kaname, because he’s still a noble, but Zero actually comes closer to him without any effort and his relationship with Yuki also improves and becomes more initmate, because she offers him her bood by her own free will.
Also, it’s easier to accept vampires as something positive when you’re a vampire yourself. The only thing he has to do, is accept himself as a vampire. I don’t say this is an easy task, but he’ll naturally accept some positive points in other vampires at the same time, if he wants to or not. So, I think it’s easier for him and it requires less character development to overcome his hatred for vampires when he’s a vampire himself, instad of being a human. Besides, being a human and learning his love interest is one of those hated vampires, is much more tragic than learning shes the same as you, what can actually turn out to be more like a relief than an acutal dramatic turnaround.

About Kaname… I don’t really think he has to go through character development at all, he seems like Mr. perfect, doing everything in favor for Yuki and respecting her and her wishes so much, he even distances himself from her. What is there for him to learn? He respects humans and wants to live with them in peace, even helping the principal with the other vampires, he loves Yuki and I’m pretty sure he’d do quite a lot for her. He’s not really cruel, although Yuki thinks it’s such a barbaric thing to hunt down the low vampires who lost their sanity to prevent the townspeople from being bitten and killed…
There is the chance that Kaname is doing all of this just because he wants Yuki and in reality, he’s a selfish evil bastard, but the other vampires follow him because they respect him. I don’t think they would respect him, when he’s an asshole, so even if he’s not as nice as he seems to be, he can’t be a complete douchebag.

Enjoyment
No enjoyment at all. This shit is boring as hell, because it’s way too predictable and the characters are either stupid, or too perfect and the only character who has to go through development, can take the easier route by being forced to become a vampire. It’s just no fun to read at all, because there’s nothing really unexpected happening. When the new female Night Class student came to the school, I was pretty sure she’s the murderer of Zeros family the first time I saw her and guess what? I was right again.
There isn’t even an interesting story that could turn this misery around, because the human/vampire-problem is just there for decoration anyway. All the plotpoints and plottwists are clichés and they never go beyond the love triangle. This love triangle is the whole story, no wonder surprisingly new stuff can’t come up, because this plot has been done a million times before. You need something exiting around it to make it interesting, but there’s nothing here. It’s so full of chliché, there’s no room for innovative ideas and that’s what makes it boring.

Aside from some plotholes and things that just don’t make sense, it’s not completely bad. It’s just that absolutely nothing happens and that’s not enjoyable. I can play Super Mario World for the 3000th time and it would feel less like a waste of time than this manga does. I can’t really root for certain characters either, because they all behave like itdots. There aren’t even interesting side characters, the side characters we have, are as flat as a sheet of paper. In Fullmetal Alchemist, we have an awesome supporting cast, supporting the plot and adding some exitement to the story. We don’t have anything like this here. The other vampires are either brainless monsters, or nobles who only exist to have the desire of biting Yuki. And the other humans… are there even other human students who have some roles aside from being vampire-fangirls?
We have very few characters everything is about and you can forget about the rest. After 15 chapters, I’m already sick of seeing the same faces over and over and over and OVER again. Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter has a lot more depth than these main characters.

So like I said, no enjoyment at all, it’s just boring as hell for me.

Overall
This manga is clearly aimed for an audience younger than me. I’m not super-smart, well, I’m not stupid either, but I’m not exeptional smart, but all this manga wants you to do, is to love the goodlooking guys and root for one of the pairings. That’s all. It tries to be a romantic love triangle, but it’s not even romantic. It tries to add drama, but doesn’t affect me at all, it tries to be mysterious, but I can see right through it. It failes at everything. Even the bishounen look all the same, the manga gives you a bunch of guys you can fangirl over and that’s all there is to it.

It’s so incredibly simple, you have to switch off your brain to be able to enjoy this. Sorry, I can’t do this. 13-year old girls who fantazise about god-like vampires can probably do it, but I can’t understand how this manga managed to become so popular. I’ve read reviews by adults praising this manga as a great romance and an exiting story, so good you can’t stop reading it. I’m sorry, this manga forces me to stop reading, or else I might fall alseep in front of my laptop.
You can’t tell me I didn’t gave it a serious try. I’ve read it out of my own free will, because I thought it could be nice to read. I even read through 15 chapter before giving up. Usually, I stop reading after 3 chapter and don’t even bother adding it to my list, but I seriously tought this could turn into something good. Well, obviously I was wrong.
And I hate it when people say: “But it gets so much better later! You just have to read a few more chapters and you’ll love it!” If this manga fails to entertain me trough 3 whole volumes, I declare it bad. Even if it gets better later on, it doesn’t change the fact that the beginning is aweful and if the beginning is so aweful it makes me stop reading, then it’s a sign something went seriously wrong.

For example: Katekyo Hitman Reborn started off pretty boring, but it was still readable. After 60 chapters it suddenly turned a pretty good and interesting shounenmanga. That’s the thing: you can fail at the beginning, but as long as you don’t fail too hard, you can still make a comeback. Katekyo Hitman Reborn is such a case. Vampire Knight is just so uninteresting I don’t even want to see it getting better.

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