Reviewby Casey Brienza, Aug 2nd 2009
Increasingly tormented by her blood soaked hallucinations, Yuki reaches out to Kaname, suspecting (quite rightly) that he knows something about her sealed memories. Kaname, for his part, decides to give Yuki something she did not know she wanted in lieu of giving her what she actually asked for: He tells her that he loves her! As it turns out, though, forbidden love with a vampire is the least of Yuki's problems. Rido Kuran has possessed the body of his son, Night Class member Senri Shiki, and he will stop at nothing to claim the vampire throne, presumably even if it means disposing of Kaname. As the danger grows ever greater, Kaname realizes that keeping Yuki's memories sealed for her own protection may be in fact be putting her in danger...
Why are vampires so popular with the teeny-bopper set? Here's one armchair theory: Vampires are sexy without being conventionally sexual. Furthermore, their sinister, forbidden cravings (for blood) mirror a girl's simultaneous anxiety about and desire for the onset of adolescence and the uncharted terrain of adulthood. If indeed this is the appeal of vampires—and really, who knows for sure?—then the seventh volume of Vampire Knight, among the strongest of the series published thus far, hits all of the requisite fangirl squeal buttons…and then some.
The major focus of this volume is its heroine, Yuki Cross. This is not the obvious matter of course that it would seem; previous volumes have focused primarily upon Zero's slow descent into Level E. And while Zero, along with his twin brother, who shows up to crash the proverbial party once more at Cross Academy, does get some fanservice-worthy page time with Kaname, the object of the discussion is Yuki. Volume seven is, in short, all about Yuki.
Yuki, you see, has lost her memory. She does not remember anything prior to the time when she was a little girl and Kaname rescued her from a marauding vampire. In the previous volume, evidence of a cover-up was mounting, and she is wracked with both frustration and fear. Suspecting, quite rightly, as it turns out, that Kaname holds the key to her past, she seeks him out. He does not at this time give her fulfillment—and yes, you should read into this all of the sexually-charged undertones you could possibly wish—but he arguably gives her something that will leave the readers swooning nevertheless. I will not spoil it outright, but suffice it to say that he finally tells Yuki a long awaited something that the readers probably already knew or suspected.
Throughout much of the rest of the volume, you have Yuki and Kaname doing a delicate political dance, with Yuki resolving once more to ask Kaname about her past and Kaname gracefully sidestepping the stuff he does not want to deal with quite yet. Unfortunately, events beyond the Pureblood's control may force him to play his remaining hand. Night Class member Shiki Senri's body has been possessed by vampire named Rido Kuran, and this Rido claims to be The One Who Ought to Be in Charge. Needless to say, his plans at present are left suitably and sinisterly vague, but it's surely safe to say that whatever plans he's cooking up means bad news for the other Kuran we all know and love.
By the end of volume seven, Kaname, well aware that Yuki has been suffering from waking, blood soaked nightmares, decides that it is no longer in her best interests to keep her memories sealed. He does not want her to go totally insane under his watch, after all. Naturally, explanations are deliciously, tortuously deferred to the next volume, but before closing the book on the book, as it were, mangaka Matsuri Hino indulges readers with a nearly full-page pinup of the classic vampire/damsel swooning embrace. Vampire Knight fans are sure to swoon along with Yuki.
Indeed, Hino's artwork in this volume is looking especially lovely. The eye candy starts with the cover, Zero and Ichiru locked in a suggestive embrace and a misty, purple two-shot of a protective, glowing Kaname hovering over a sleeping or unconscious Yuki in the foreground. The interior artwork likewise looks especially good, with the usual batch of brooding bishoujo and bishounen perfect for the increasingly darker subject matter this series is fast descending into. Forget the glowering pretty boys without a cause that so populated the silly Merupuri; this manga series is a near-prefect marriage of style and subject matter. The artist has really come into her own.
Given the cliffhanger ending, it seems unlikely that readers with the remotest of independent interest in the series are not going to want to stop now. Fortunately, they will not have to, and for all we know Vampire Knight might be one shoujo series that lives as long as its cast of vampires.
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : A-
+ A near-perfect marriage of subject matter and style that seems to have hit at just the right cultural moment.
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