Reviewby Michelle Yu, Jul 20th 2011
Vampire Knight Guilty
At prestigious Cross Academy, there are two sessions of classes, the Day Class and the Night Class. Yuki and Zero keep watch over the Day Class and must also protect the secret of the Night Class: they are all vampires! The leader of the Night Class, Kaname, to whom Yuki owes her life, saves Zero, whom she wants to protect. The triangle becomes trickier as Yuki remembers parts of her forgotten past, and secrets to be revealed.
I had the opportunity to watch and review the first volume of Vampire Knight and now, Vampire Knight Guilty which is essentially the second season. It appears that quite a lot has happened in the course of the first season. In this first volume of Vampire Knight Guilty, it became apparent that certain characters had been introduced and killed off. In addition there have evidently been some major development in the plot, but luckily the second season can still be followed reasonably well even with some major gaps in my Vampire Knight knowledge.
Vampire Knight Guilty begins with a shift away from the romance and focuses more on the mental, emotional, and (to an extent) physical plight of the human-turned-vampire Zero. This follows on from the events of the latter half of the first season, and the first episode includes a bit of a crash course in the occurrences of late. It is not particularly hard to follow, especially when the characters Yuki and Zero both seem to possess the ability to project every detail of their inner thoughts onto the screen. This is useful in educating those viewers who may not have followed the first season closely; however it can also become tedious. In addition the 'clunky' mental dialogue simply does not sit well when so much is going on plot-wise.
Furthermore, there does not seem to be any particularly interesting developments in the character of Yuki. She now appears to be more confused and conflicted than in the first season, but at the same time she is the exact same teenage girl - flaws and all. Having said that, it is pleasing to see that the writers have acknowledged that novella-esque romance is not enough to sustain an entire series; even though the Yuki-centric love triangle is still firmly entrenched in the plot. Viewers are treated to a glimpse of some characters' pasts and back-stories, but it would be nice to see more depth in the background of characters such as Kaien Cross. As the headmaster of Cross Academy as well as a former vampire hunter, there is a lot of potential in further developing his character particularly given his position within the scope of the series.
Many viewers who watch a lot of anime (myself included) tend to prefer watching with Japanese voices supplemented by English subtitles as opposed to English dubs. It was not as noticeable in the first season, but in the case of Vampire Knight Guilty the English voice of Kaname Kuran seems quite monotonous compared to the Japanese counterpart. The character is supposed to be ever-composed and softly-spoken; however this did not seem to translate into the character's English dub voice. Furthermore, the ambiguity of the Japanese language can at times give rise to alternate meanings to phrases when it comes to English dubbing. For example, the Japanese expression 'daisuki' is literally translated as 'I really like…' but is often used in conveying something to the tune of 'I love…'.
This is not a particularly onerous issue if the phrase is used in the context of an inanimate object - because it would thus simply be a figure of speech describing satisfaction. However in the context of humans or in this case a character in a story, this can influence viewers' perception of relationships between characters and potentially be a mechanism in steering the plot in a particular direction. Whether or not the ambiguity was intentional is unclear, but the dubbed version of Vampire Knight Guilty seems to have ignored this and chosen to translate as 'I love you'. More of the series will have to be watched in order to ascertain whether this was the right move on the part of the translators, but at least it gives yaoi fans something to ponder about until they see the next volume.
Since Vampire Knight Guilty is simply the second season of the Vampire Knight series, my opinion on the art and animation remains the same. Although I appreciate the artistic style in its entirety, there is nothing particularly innovative or ground-breaking here or in any other recent supernaturally-themed anime series targeted at females. In addition, I preferred the opening and closing theme songs in the first season over those in the second. Both the opening and closing themes in Vampire Knight Guilty have similar mainstream J-pop/rock sounds which unfortunately render them both equally forgettable. But it appears that what is lacking musically may be compensated by developments in the characters and the plot.
Considering I found myself (unexpectedly) enjoying the first season of Vampire Knight, I am inclined to give Vampire Knight Guilty a chance to prove itself should I have the opportunity to watch more of the series. It may be that the weaknesses identified in the first volume end up being rectified later in the series. This however, remains to be seen.
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B+
Animation : B
Art : B+
Music : C+
+ Plot and character developments.
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