Japanese Culture: Vampire Knight

Vampire Knight: Japan’s Vampires

What is the most fascinating and feared creature of the darkness of all? The answer is simple: the Vampire.

Vampires are often thought to originate from inland Europe, but many do not know that there exists a race of vampires that actually comes from Japan! Vampire Knight is a manga series that draws on this.
ヴァンパイア騎士 (Vanpaia Naito) is a manga series that was written by Matsuri Hino. She is a true expert in the shōjo-gothic genre and this series of her’s debuted on the January 2015 issue of the magazine LaLa. The artist uses an extremely romantic image for her vampires. Beautiful in the eyes of humans, they are different from the commonly horrifying “bloodsuckers”.

They, too, have blood running in their veins as well, and drinking the blood of a beloved person is a sign of devotion like no other that will quench the thirst of the vampire who does it.

The Cross Academy

In an obscure world out of space and time, the protagonists of Vampire Knight dwell in a prestigious private school with an unusual class structure. Students are divided into two different sessions; the Day Class, attended by normal people that take their lessons during the daytime, and the Night Class, whose students hide a secret while attending classes after dark. To the Day Class students, the Night Class students seem like an elite class of geniuses, but they are, in reality, vampires. Only three people from the Day Class know the truth about the Night Class: the school director and the two “Guardians”; Yuki Cross, the protagonist and Zero Kiryu.

Around them, we find among others the characters of Shiki Senri, Hanabusa Aidou, and Takuma Ichijo, mysterious and charming noble vampires bounded to the Pureblood and head of the Night Class, Kaname Kuran by a strong friendship and obedience imposed by the hierarchy.

A thrilling story full of twist and turns takes place within this setting. The panels, that were skillfully drawn by the artist, have a touch of darkness through which the protagonists communicate the anxieties of their souls and the pathos they live day after day.

The vampires depicted here are creatures surrounded by a natural sensuality. Like in the best literary tradition, even the goriest of scenes is magically enveloped by an aura of charm and refinement. All this contributes to making every kind of fight less gruesome.

Eternal love and damnation

The characterizing theme of Vampire Knight is Eternal Love, the internal struggle of the characters to conquer what their heart truly desires, the will to withstand even the most painful choices.
Considering these aspects, Kaname’s personality is the most complex of all; authoritative especially with his classmates of the Night Class and merciless toward his enemies. He is rarely seen smiling or letting himself loose, but his personality changes in front of Yuuki. He shows all his tenderness and the great sense of protection he is capable of only with her. The metaphor of tormented love, an emotion that entails despair, pain and inner struggle. All of this embodies in the character of Kaname the determination, the strength and the ability to overcome every boundary in order to reach his objective.

Anime, CD Drama and Novels

A story like this certainly couldn’t be left only printed on the paper. The first episode of the anime series of Vampire Knight was produced by Studio Deen and was aired on TV Tokyo on April 8, 2008. Its success convinced the director Kiyoko Sayama to work on a second season, Vampire Knight Guilty. It was aired on October 7, 2008, and a third one aired during 2014. Unforgettable are the opening themes of both seasons, “Futatsu no Kodō to Akai Tsumi” and “Rinne: Rondo”, together with the ending themes “Still Doll” and “Suna no Oshiro”, that was included in the soundtrack album consisting in 30 tracks composed by Haketa Takafumi.

In addition to that, 2 CD dramas were released. One is “LaLa Kirameki” released in September 2005, while the second volume “Vampire Knight Midnight CD-Pack” was only available through online order.

Moreover, Matsuri Hino, in collaboration with Ayuna Fujisaki published two Light Novels in 2008. Both were not specifically based on chapters of the manga but are side-stories about certain characters featured within the original story.
In November 2008 an official Fanbook was published too, “Vampire Knight Fanbook: Cross”. This latest work gives further information on the characters and also includes detailed images of the author’s storyboard.

And the story goes on…

Photo credit: Google images Vampire Knight wiki;